By Tom Dare
A SERIES OF FASCINATING images showing the creative process behind train-based graffiti from across the world have been featured in a new book which seeks to document the art form.
Pictures from ‘Graffiti Artists: United’ by Paul Stenzel show balaclava-clad graffiti artists taking their spray cans to the sides of trains in Germany, while another shows an artist perched in between two train cars while carrying out some spray-painting.
Further shots show a faceless artist spray-painting the side of an American subway car, with yet more images showing one man prizing open a train door from the inside while his friend decorates the outside of the carriage.
The book features work from artists from across the world, with contributors from America, Germany, Italy and Holland all taking part in a project aimed at bringing graffiti artists from across the world together.
The book focuses exclusively on illegal train graffiti for this project, and contributor Miserable Face says it’s the rush that comes with the art form that most excites him about it.
“I’m interested only in illegal graffiti,” he writes in the book.
“Everything started with painting trains, capturing the moment, the atmosphere, the vibe, the action, without even a photo of the finished piece. Later, those things were joined by the desire to take photos but with an emphasis on the finished piece and capturing the traffic in a way that would make the piece look its very best.
“The whole thing was evolving and it was a matter of time before the desire to take photos won the battle over the desire to paint trains. I started getting less interested in letters and more and more interested in everything that was all around me ¬ the emotions of the writers, the atmosphere on the spot, the light, preparing the action, etc.
“When people started asking me what story I wanted to tell with these photos I replied with all the stuff above and things like: for me the best bit about graffiti is that moment when you run from the tunnel after painting a panel, try to find some shop to grab a beer and your camera strap still smells like that panel, when you manage to run from the metro security even if they close the only exit from the layup, when you meet new people who show you places that you couldn’t find by yourself, and that by simply painting some stupid trains you forge friendships that last for years or even longer.
“Now let’s move on from all that, I don’t want to get all ideological or philosophical. I see it as a way to spend my free time or an opportunity for personal progress, of course in some way. There are few exceptions to that and I could talk less or more about it but basically I don’t feel the need to explain “why?”
“The longer I’m doing it the harder it gets to find some rational reason as to why I’m still doing it. Maybe there is no reason? Maybe I just like to do it? Some things don’t need to be explained.”
Graffiti Artists: United by Paul Stenzel features photos from Miserable Face, Kevin Schulzbus in Berlin, Phil America in Los Angeles, Dpplhand in Cologne, RDJ in America, Peter Stelzig in Berlin, Riky Kiwy in Genova, Peter White in Berlin and Mjay in Rotterdam, is published by Seltmann + Söhne, and is available for purchase from Amazon on October 28 here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Graffiti-Photographers-United-Paul-Stenzel/dp/3946688233