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Presently, as in the late 1970s, graffiti remains an anti-establishment, clandestine, public and illegal form of expression; what’s best, the number of women in graffiti is growing. Thus, we give you the low down on the women who have earned their place in the street art world.
We could not let International Women’s Day go by without honoring the life and trajectory of these graffiti artists. Many of them formed crews to make their graphic creations visible on the streets and show that graffiti is not only a man’s gig. Hence, women also adopt it as a lifestyle.
We start this list with a veteran of Ecuadorian descent who grew up in Queens. Her graffiti career began in 1979 because of her boyfriend’s deportation to Puerto Rico. Therefore, she began writing his name all over the city and subsequently adopting the pseudonym Lady Pink.
By the age of 15, Lady Pink was already painting with crews like TC5 (The Cool 5) and TPA (The Public Animals). For her, graffiti represented a form of expression and female empowerment. In 1980, she created a women’s graffiti crew called Ladies of the Arts.
In addition, that same year she was part of GAS (Graffiti Art Success) exhibition in New York City. The defining moment was her first solo show entitled Femmes-Fatale that same year. She currently teaches art classes at Queens schools.
These two women are also some of the pioneer graffiti writers in New York. The number in their nickname usually refers to the street number they lived on. They left their tags all over the city, as much or more than some of the top male graffiti writers of the time.
Although there is little information about them, we know they began in 1974. And many of their pieces were tagged on New York trains. These graffiti writers chose wild style and tags.
From Vigo, Spain comes the work of a graffiti writer who experienced the creative possibilities of aerosol. We’re talking about Sax, a girl who began in her teens, creating sketches that she would later start to capture on the walls in the form of bombs.
Her style, like Lady Pink’s, is based on the use of colors, textures, and themes that allude to femininity. A way to emphasize the presence of women in a discipline dominated mostly by men. Sax is one of the most representative veterans of women’s graffiti in Vigo.
Claudia Walde is her real name and her work is exceptional. In fact, she is considered the most successful graffiti artist in the world. She was born in Germany and formally started doing graffiti in 1996. Later, she would continue in this world after reading the book Graffiti Art Germany, which would give her the necessary inspiration to paint.
Her name is a combination of the nickname she had in school “the little mad.” She took up “Mad” and added the first letter of her name to it. She got worldwide recognition after collaborating on the 700 wall project. Her artworks on canvas were exhibited in various galleries in Germany and in different parts of the world.
As if that were not enough, the artist published two books called Street Fonts and Graffiti Alphabets, both published by Thames & Hudson. They gather the work of a wide variety of writers to exemplify the great diversity of typography and styles in graffiti. Her work is governed by a motto: A “traditional” theme is recontextualized into a completely new visual language.
To speak of Lady K is to talk about guts. She creeps through the streets of her native Paris to decorate its walls with her tags. She is part of the 156 and CKW crews. Her career in graffiti dates back to 1997. However, she began creating sketches and tags since 1991.
You will most likely find a can of spray in her bag as well as permanent markers. Her work is one hundred percent wild style, since she is a writer born on the streets. In addition, she was recorded with Kenza for the DVD magazine “PAINTERZ” in a video where we can see her in action.
Straight from Guadalajara, Diba started doing graffiti when she was just 15. Since she was little, she remembers she loved going on the bus, watching the street and its tags. Additionally, she always carried a notebook with her to try and imitate what she saw: letters and the idea of “deforming” them.
It’s been difficult for her as a woman to be in graffiti, as it is in all areas “led” by men. “I have been discriminated against and belittled many times for being a woman,” she comments. However, her passion for graffiti empowers her every day: by taking a can and demonstrating what she does best. She is undoubtedly one of the representatives of women’s illegal graffiti in Mexico.
She’s Brazilian and an illegal graffiti lover who’s been painting on the streets of Brazil for more than 10 years. Consequently, she uses a wide variety of bombs and tags that have positioned her as one of the most renowned exponents of wild style in her country. Thus, she has achieved what many male writers have.
In 2018, the Street of Styles festival was held in Brazil, an event that brought together national and international street art and graffiti personalities. Venus was part of such an important event for the first time.
“I’m happy to see women doing this, because we’re always a minority, (…) this reveals how important inclusion is in our field so that we’re not such a low percentage,” Venus explains of women in graffiti. She is currently still painting.
Melody proudly represents illegal graffiti in Mexico, painting on the streets since the age of 16. Her track record in graffiti is underpinned by perseverance. Additionally, her level of execution has evolved over the years. She is currently 26 years old and continues to invade the city with tags and bombs.
As for her style, we can say that her stroke is precise, filled with a lot of color contrast. Hence, her typography is at the level of any professional graffiti writer with very careful cuts. Desik has made a name for herself among the prominent women in illegal graffiti.
Lastly, Martha Cooper’s work deserves a special mention. She has devoted herself to documenting the work of these graffiti women, like Lady Pink, and other veterans of the streets.
This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
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