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The Beginning of an Artistic Generation

There is no way to pinpoint the first masterpiece ever done.  The early writers we have spoken with, however all agree, that the first subway painting was done on an IRT Subway train by SUPER KOOL 223.  Although, there were outlined signatures traced back on the subways before SUPER KOOL 223s masterpiece, by such writers as EL

 MARKO 174, LIONEL 168, and CLIFF 159. However, It was SUPERKOOL 223’s discovery  of a larger spray nozzle


 that allowed many of his work to be filled in, at a faster pace.  The beginning concept of a masterpiece was to allow one writer to stand out from hundreds of signatures, which appeared on the same subway car.  This would introduce the era of the STYLE MASTERS. Improvements on lettering became very necessary in distinguishing one from hundreds of  writers who duplicated SUPERKOOL 223’s original approach to painting.  Writers such as PHASE 2, RIFF 170, TRACY 168, PEL, MAD 1, FLINT 707, and PISTOL were some of the first, of many who created innovative elaborate letterings.  As

a result, this became the foundation that many writers followed.  In the early 1970’s, as these letterings and styles traveled from borough to borough (such as  Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens), many from those areas copied and improved on what they saw.  Therefore, each borough developed a style they could call their own.  The masterpiece, often referred to, as “A Piece” for short, would change from different shapes and sizes (like Blockbusters, Wild Style Burners, Whole-Cars, and Top-to-Bottoms).  The Bronx writers were credited to welcoming in the era of the

 masterpieces similar to Manhattan writers, whom first introduced the  whole concept of “getting up”. Subwayoutlaws salutes the artists who have shaped this art form.  The following photographs are some of our enjoy the tour!





was the super king of the 1 line and an All-City subway killer in the early part of the 1970's.  B-1: "Moses and I started on the Broadway line with very little style to our letters, until taking a trip uptown to 149th Street. There the writers who truly shaped the art form, passed along styles to those less artistically skilled".


Rebel was a well known writer on the Broadway line, who also had great hand writing style.  Here Rebel took a typical approach to piecing that was the norm in the early 1970's.  Rebel was not only well known on the 1 line, but also very effective on the BMT's.  NOTE: Single hits (tags) done by Brooklyn legends, KILLER 1 and SUPER STRUT.


























You should have seen those trains go by...historical Graffiti legends...writers, is what we called them.  The writers lit up the trains, in flames of colors.  They were the EBONY DUKES, in all there bites of colors just soaring through the stations...single hits, top-to-bottoms, windows-down, whole-cars, little letters, big and bold throw-up's, block-busters...they were trains that floated through the sky...with clouds around them...flames bursting  out of  the sides, crowns on the tops of letters...stars, stitches, dots and bubbles.  There was the playboy bunny with the rabbit ears, one up and one down.


The Saint with the joint in his mouth, oh yes, the top-hat with gloves and cane to match.  The spray can man...The choo-choo train just passing you by. Or the pool table...the fire hydrant shooting the names across the a cannon exploding the piece, right out at you.  The world was as an "O", or the bomb, ready to explode.  ~ FUZZONE (The Dark Side Of  New York)


APOLLO - 5 (aka A-5)Nowadays, many would look at these sort of stick letterings, to be an easy task to execute.  Not many however, could keep their letters as neat and in proportion with the subway car (as you can see by the painting done, in the piece above).  It's important that many remember, that everything that was done during that time, was when the approach to painting was still in its infant stages. 




VAMM of the Bronx based writing group, THE CRAZY FIVE

CPress here, to read our interview with VAMM - Crazy five














BLADE:  P-Haze168 or Purple Haze168, would have to be one of the all time greats of the earlier era.  When I think of this guy, I think of the 3rd Avenue "EL" (elevated) train line, which he was king of, for a very long time.  Others who also ruled that line, were COKE 1 -225, HOLLY WOOD-PB, KOOL KEVIN 1, SKI 168, DOC MAGIC, RAY-B 954 and CO-CO 174.  Some of these guys specialized in single hits (tags) or others masterpieces.  Regardless these writers made an impression on people, while they were riding the 3rd Avenue "EL" in the early 1970's.Click here to see the new book by BLADE.1, King Of Kings

TRACY 168: Many must understand that we risked our lives for this art form, not so some geek 30 years later, could place it in a museum and make money on us!



Photo credits go to...BLADE, DIME 139, DON.1-MAFIA,  DANGER 59, JACK STEWART ( " Graffiti Kings ")

 and the team at SubwayOutlaws.Com ~ If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at Message@SubwayOutlaws.Com