Famed graffiti writer REVS detailed many an illegal ‘mission’ in his first self-published opus – the caveat is you needed to go underground in the New York subway tunnels to read about them. That was a few decades ago but even today when certain train lines are stalled between stations, which happens less frequently than it did in the ragged wild 1970-80s when many New York graffiti writers like REVS began, passengers can look out the window and read a portion of a diary entry. Over time people searching for these works discovered that this artist turned out to be a writer in more than one sense with his self-aware observations, opinions, memories, and aspirations inscribed in a personal/public voice along darkened subterranean passageways. Prolific and determined, he is credited with eventually some 230+ entries on walls that appeared during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Each are now a series of moments frozen in time, receding into New York and graffiti history.
Today the writer expands his reach, compiling with XSOUP and ARBOR the stories of many graffiti writers into a bound volume that will become an instant classic in the largely anonymous and underground realm of practitioners as well as with the growing cadre of researchers, academics and historians studying graffiti/street art/urban art today. With this new passion effort by REVS and a small team, these stories are preserved and documented, ensuring a greater understanding and appreciation for the interconnected/alienated paradox of the graffiti writer’s life and practice.
‘We preserved each individual’s truths, opinions, exuberance, pride, joy, and grudges in an effort to depict the gritty complexities of this scene we inhabit.’
Author and REVS documentarian Freddy Alva below tells us about the upcoming small-run book release that has become a hot ticket for the New York graff (and street art) scene this week.
There’s a book release in Brooklyn on Saturday, September 10, celebrating ‘Life’s A Mission Then You’re Dead’; a comprehensive 510 pages book of blood, sweat & tears-soaked stories by 100 NYC Graffiti writers. REVS and XSOUP, with help from ARBOR, compiled this loving insiders’ oral history of an idiosyncratic street culture that few are privy to.
From the introduction:
‘The history of writing, style writing, or graffiti, is brief but nebulous. Generations turn over every couple of years, scattered across the city’s many neighborhoods and extending to most places on earth. The histories of these small, fluctuating groups are mostly recorded in memory and recounted through word of mouth—some to larger audiences and some reaching only a select few. Outsiders curious about writing have been responsible for much of its documentation… The voices of many writers could together offer a more intricate, nuanced view of the world of writing… We preserved each individual’s truths, opinions, exuberance, pride, joy, and grudges in an effort to depict the gritty complexities of this scene we inhabit.’
Each cover is individually drawn by REVS with images by NYC street photographer Matt Weber aka MALTA. Book design is by Eric Wrenn with editorial assistance by Polly Watson. This is a self-published endeavor with no online link to order at the moment, limit one copy per customer and cash only at the release event 11-6pm on September 10 at: Low Brow, 321 Starr St Brooklyn, NY 11237
The following writers have stories in the book:
VINNY 3YB, RIFF 170 INDS, REMO BTB, SKEME, TAP, PEAK VIC, BONES, JESTER 1, FALSE, ALL JIVE 161, DESA MTA, LASK V05, VFR, CHAIN 3 TMT, EGOR, P13 TMD SS CW, YES 2, RD 357, QUIK, DELK TST, NOXER DOD, EKO TKC, BRAZE 1 BC TF5, MISS 17, TATU XMEN, DUKE 9 TOP, HOY 56, VIL XBS, PJAY, BH ONE TB, DUEL MCI RIS, JOE 188 / ROCKET, TRAP IF, SNAKE 1, XSOUP, CHINO BYI, JEST TVT, CHRIS 217, BAN 2 OTB/ DELI 167, CECSTER, STAK, FEC TFV, EZO CUKILLZ, COMET 1 TC5, KET ONE, BOOTS 119, JICK, GIZ MTA, PART ONE TDS, MAP, KAVES, TR 3 “THE RICAN” DTA, SP ONE, CES, DINK PBS, LSD ॐ, KROOK TBK, SHARP, PK, SMITH, MR. R MOD, ROGER, RENKS, TKID 170, KEV TM7, ANT, REVOLT, CYCLE, CRIME 79, DUMAR M NOV, NET, DERO TFA, SKUF YKK, TRIKE GND, STAFF 161 TED, CORE 2 IMOK, SONIC BAD, SADE TCM, TRACY 168, RATE TV, BOE RTWOW, DEMO TPA, TYKE/TIKE, KIT 17 MGS, HOW/NOSM, DJ NO XMEN, SPAR 1, CAVS SV, STRIDER BC, SES DOG, FLASHER, BUTCH 2, SERIF, INCA ONE, SANESMITH, PEO SIS, ANSO.