Characters are both the most easily accessible and neglected area in graffiti culture. They are the figures that stand by the side, drawing attention to the graffiti writer’s name. After Dokument Press’ first coloring book, the Graffiti Coloring Book, art expert and PhD Jacob Kimvall thought it was time for characters to stand in the spotlight. “I’ve always been fascinated by the characters of graffiti. They add playfulness to the poetic quality of the letters, and help to open up the pictures to the viewer. But they also have an artistic language of their own. At the same time, letterers have always enjoyed the highest status among graffiti writers,” says Jacob Kimvall.
Mouthy B-boys and B-girls with athletic bodies, spray cans and boom boxes, comical figures with clear cartoon features and realistic portraits. All the characters in the Graffiti Coloring Book 2: Characters were created by graffiti writers known for their unique styles and expressive characters with attitude. Many of them are among the world’s most famous graffiti writers. New York legends like Revolt, Part One and T-Kid get to meet younger writers from all over the world. Kimvall’s large network within international graffiti culture has been of great help, but gathering material has still been hard and time-consuming. “It’s been an exciting project. Mainly, I’ve realized how important the personal encounter is when gathering material, even in our apparently digital age. Like when I met the two legendary writers Tack and Nic707 at a MacDonald’s under the Harlem subway Line 1 – a meeting that yielded not only two fine drawings, but a visit to the Metropolitan Museum as well.”
“Graffiti is for kids,” said the American graffiti writer Tracy 168 in the early 80s. And even if the oldest writers are now approaching retirement age, graffiti is still a playful art form created by children and youths, as editor Jacob Kimvall writes. In graffiti culture, the black-and-white drawing is both a model for a graffiti piece and a work of art in its own right. Similarly, this book is both a toy and an art history document.