Photo Kings was a crew in New York city the documented the last years of graffiti on the New York city subway system.
Name: Queen Andrea
Crew: AOK, WKS
City / Country: New York City, USA
When did you start writing: I became fascinated with graffiti as a young kid, growing up in downtown Manhattan. Some of the NYC trains were still bombed then and the city was always full of hardcore vandalism and production walls, all over the five boroughs. I started practicing at age 14 in the early 1990’s. As a downtown kid, I was lucky to became friends with some of the most notorious NYC writers and piecers who I would hang out with in my neighbourhood, which helped me to develop my own unique style and technique. I love letters and I love writing my name even more. I’ve stayed focused on graffiti, and also graphic design and art, for my entire life since my early days.
What’s graffiti for you: For me, graffiti is about non-status quo, extremely rebellious self-expression, and becoming a master of personal style, along with strategies to make your work stand out and gain fame in a vast urban landscape. I was always attracted to the physical act of writing my name over and over again, even from when I was a young teenager, tagging all over my school notebooks. After hanging out with hardcore bombers in the early 1990’s, I decided that I wanted to become a master of letters and not only a vandal. It took years and years of practice for me to develop a strong piecing style, and then I expanded into large scale typography murals. My passion for letters runs deep and I also work as a typographer commercially. In the streets, I never paint the same outline, so that each piece is unique and I push myself to constantly paint new letters, color schemes and techniques. My large scale typography murals are another way that I push the boundaries, painting different phrases, letter styles, art backgrounds and effects.
Influences: My graffiti influences include the New York City crews TFP (The Fantastic Partners), AOK (All Out Kings), RIS (Rocking It Suckers), XTC, WKS and West Coast crews MSK and AWR. On the fine art side, my favorite artists are Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Murakami, Kaws, Todd James, Espo, Doze Green, and many others. Quantity vs quality: I prefer great quality graffiti, but I paint a lot of walls so I pursue quantity also. For me, detailed and unique burners push our graffiti culture to new levels, but so do very hardcore bombers, I love both. Whatever you do, “Go Big or Go Home” is a great motto that I try to live up to.
What keeps you still writing: I love graffiti to death! It was the first artform that I fell in love with, it really grabbed me from a young age. Whenever I see super vandalised walls, they’re like art to me – I carefully identify all the tags and handstyles, it’s an insane, chaotic mess that I enjoy. I’m a New Yorker, and the graffiti in my city is some of the best of the best, I’m constantly inspired by the bombers and piecers around me. I’m always motivated to practice new letters, hand styles and to seek out new spots to paint, it’s just a passion of mine.
Future plans: I’ve been developing my fine art and typography for quite a few years now, along with large mural commissions. I still paint in the streets often, but I’m shifting my focus to the galleries and brands that I collaborate with. I’m launching my own clothing brand called SuperFreshNYC, zines, prints and big murals. I love what I do and I enjoy working really fucking hard at it. Big Ups SprayDaily!!
Mesh from the old AOK Crew that used to bomb the New York subways back in the 80’s has a website. Here you have some of the raw and gritty analog images from back in the days! Visit his site for more pictures.
This is super-rare 80’s film footage of the All Out Kings: Mesh Reas and Ven bombing the 57th Street lay-up in New York City around 1989.