Inside the museum: MTA train Door(Circa 1984-5)
While early graffiti received its notoriety from street tagging it was New York City’s trains that proved to be the perfect canvas of choice for writers looking to see their names fly across the city. While the exterior graffiti dashed by commuters in a blur the subway interiors afforded writers a captive audience and the attention of other writers who would also compete for available surfaces. It was within the trains that hand styles would reign supreme and allow writers to hone their skills before they attempted a masterpiece on the exterior.
The conductor door on display at the Museum illustrates a variety of tags in various mediums from spray paint to broad tip markers. Each distinct marking represents an individual’s alias and each applied perhaps over a series of years. The build-up of tags on the conductor door suggest the state of both the transit system and city governance. The door further shows that the overlapping tags express authority or disregard for other writers, this type of rivalry would instigate cross-out wars (among the writers) and leave the train interiors in a dismal state which then prompted the public and city officials to call for an all-out war on graffiti writers in order to eradicate the chaotic look that was present.
The variety of markers used on the door highlight the use of specific types of writing tools, for instance, KM uses what’s known as an Ultra Wide Uni, a broad tip writing instrument used in Japan for poster advertisements, whereas the RAZ tag was written with a pinned needle to soften and broaden the tip of a wide-tipped Pilot or Marvy marker.