Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise September 4, 2014

September 4: Graffiti.

Graffiti can mean many things. The first thought is often of gang tags, shoddy throw-ups. Or perhaps artists you've seen portrayed or covered in the media like Banksy (whose piece is pictured above). If you think Twist, Espy or Ewok, you probably already have a dozen stories to tap into and can get those wheels rolling in the back of your brain. Or maybe you're super into archaeology and when you hear graffiti you think of cave drawings. Or you are raising a little boy right now and have scrubbed more than your share of his crayon graffiti off your wallpaper.

I linked to a really cool page called Wall to Wall, from Cave Painting to Graffiti, if you're not super familiar with graffiti check it out. If you become interested, I'd also recommend the book Graffiti LA. It's a great coffee table book with tons of large photos and interesting text, plus a bonus cd.

For today's writing exercise pick a version of graffiti and put yourself next to it. Whether you're the artist/vandal, someone looking at it either with disdain or appreciation, or something else entirely.

A couple questions to consider/decide upon (just write the a, b, c etc and the answer in your notebook):

a) What type of graffiti is it? Cave painting, ancient Egyptian tomb pillager, a subway car with spraypaint pieces, an abandoned building with a very intricate 'piece', did a kid write the f-word on the wall like in Catcher in the Rye? Did a small child get a hold of a marker, crayon, pen, paint can, chocolate cake? Is a rebel partisan sending a message to the dictator or other rebels?
b) Are you cleaning the graffiti up, placing it there, or just viewing it?
c) What do you think of the graffiti. If your first inclination is to dislike it, try to find a way that you might like it. If you enjoy or like the graffiti, bring in the destruction issue sincerely.
d) What is the graffiti portraying or saying? Why did the artist/you feel so strongly about that statement, or is it a passing bit of juvenilia?
e) What's the weather like? Just pick something, even if it's not important to the story at all.

g) What colors are used in the graffiti? What type of pigment? Ochre, spraypaint, crayon, marker, knife/key?

Have fun, write away. If you have trouble deciding what to do, just pick something and go. Don't worry about the finished product, if it's going anywhere or has any arc or plot. Just write a little bit. That's what notenooking is all about. If you have extra time, here are a few more resources for graffiti: the 1983 documentary Style Wars, a huge reserve of artist links at Art Crimes, a PBS video/article about graffiti called ‘The History of American Graffiti:’ From Subway Car to Gallery about a graffiti history book, and here is Norman Mailer's "The Faith of Graffiti" from the May 1974 issue of Esquire thanks to hi-resolution scans by Test Pressing.