Good-Bye Graphilly

Everything has a beginning and an end. As the summer season draws near, my spring semester at Rowan University is about to come to an end, and with it my postings here on Graphilly.

When I first started this blog I had no previous knowledge of Philly street art nor the city of Philadelphia itself. Now, after three months of getting acquainted with the city and its street art scene, I feel as though I’ve developed a special bond with Philly’s graffiti and street art culture. The next time I go back to Philly it’s going to be hard for me not to have my camera on me, scanning the area for throw ups and pieces.

But who knows, maybe this will become a hobby of mine in the future. I’m still going to leave the blog up because I feel that it will be a helpful resource to anyone else who has a curiosity in Philadelphia graffiti and street art. As for me doing posts, don’t expect to see anything new for a while, if anything.

As I move on to the next phase of my academic career as a journalism student, here’s a look back at five of my favorite posts on Graphilly:

Isaiah Zagar: A Man’s Thoughts Demanding Life

Isaiah Zagar Speaks on His Inspirations and Mentality as an Artist

Top Picks: South Philly Graffiti

Graphilly Asks Local Philadelphians If They Think Graffiti’s a Problem

Two Must-See Graffiti Spots in Philly


Two Must-See Graffiti Spots in Philadelphia

Since most of my explorations in the Philadelphia street art scene have been concentrated near and around Center City, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone this past Sunday. This time out I was in search of some real raw and authentic graffiti pieces.

I found just what I was looking for.

The walls at Fifth and Cecil B. Moore and the pier near Richmond Street – two incredibly marked up spots full of intricate pieces, including wildstyles and burners – are virtually less than a couple miles apart from each other.

These sites are home to some of the hidden gems of Philly graffiti.

Fifth & Cecil B. Moore

The Olde Kinsington neighborhood is a special location in North Philadelphia being that it has permission walls that run along the sides of its roads. This area has an interesting history of property owners allowing graffiti writers to display work on their property, which dates back to the 80’s.

Immediately after I got out of my car to take a few snapshots of the graffiti, a pickup truck pulled up behind my car. A man hoped out of the truck with a camera and started taking pictures beside me.

Mike Good, 43, drives around the neighborhood every Sunday taking photos of the newest graffiti additions as a hobby.

Good has lived in North Philadelphia his entire life. So I asked him how long the art has been on the walls.

“Ever since I grew up it’s been like this,” Good said. “They’re allowed to do graffiti on certain surfaces like these walls at Fifth and Cecil B. Moore.”

He mentioned that the pieces on these walls are unique to North Philly and aren’t necessarily the styles of graffiti you would be able to find in Center City.

The graffiti here includes a dedication piece to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School, some pieces alongside a mural of the late rapper Big Pun, as well as plenty of sick wildstyles – all of which can be viewed in the slideshow below.

Graffiti Underground

My next destination landed me in a parking lot behind what appeared to be a vacant industrial complex off Richmond Street. I had to park there in order to walk over to an abandoned loading pier people call “Graffiti Underground.”

Ironically, these abandoned areas were full of life.

The parking lot was inhabited by groups of people standing by their cars and watching bikers ride up and down the parking strip doing wheelies. At the far left corner of the parking lot there was an entrance to a dirt trail leading towards the pier.

No longer than a couple minutes of walking down the path and I found myself in graffiti paradise.

The pier extends out into the Delaware River and consists of two concrete structures with rows of support beams, and almost all of the spaces on these structures have been occupied by aerosol paint.

Some repeating patterns could be found on the support beams, giving the impression that the structures had been used for practicing. I came across thousands of various styles of graffiti and quite a few people too.

Some young teens some how managed to find a way to the roof of the first structure could be heard running along the top of it. At the very end of the pier, past the second structure, I found about eight men fishing and a woman reading.

On my way out, I met three teenagers writing graffiti within a few feet of the entrance of the second structure. Nineteen-year-old W.P., who refused to give me his real name, told me they came there to work on their technique.

“We come out and bomb this place every now and then,” W.P. said. “We really just came here to experiment with some new ideas and chill.”

I was able to take a few snapshots of W.P. in the act of bombing. He had no choice but to go over other artists’ previous work due to the limited space.

Photos from “Graffiti Underground” can be viewed below.

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Graphilly Asks Local Philadelphians If They Think Graffiti’s a Problem

The ethics of Philadelphia graffiti has been a longtime discussion that has sparked much controversy in the city. Many see it as a intricate art form which is part of the city, while others view graffiti as damaging to the city, especially the gang sign related tags. To get a better sense of what the community thinks I asked a few locals their opinion on the matter.

Center City Street Art Map

Philadelphia contains more public art than any other city in the United States. Center City in particular is a special place in Philadelphia that has a diverse collection of street art. Whenever you turn a street corner you never know if you’re going to stumble upon something new. Murals, tags and throw ups rule the streets, but even pieces and wheat pastes can be found if you look hard enough. Here’s a map that pinpoints some of the basic street art destinations in Center City.

All-City Aggregation: KEECH, Steve Powers, K!d Hazo

Photo Courtesy of Crab74

Photo Courtesy of Crab74 on Instagram


If you’re familiar with Philly’s graffiti scene, or you just happen to regularly commute through the city, it would be nearly impossible for you to miss the huge and often colorful tags and throw ups done by KEECH. Within the last couple years or so, KEECH has reinstated himself as one of Philadelphia’s premier graffiti writers. LOLadelphia! recently caught up with KEECH for an in-depth interview you can read here.

Steve Powers

A few years ago, Steve Powers embarked on a creative conquest called the Love Letter. With the help of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Steve Powers painted messages from his love letter in the form of giant signs all throughout Philadelphia. He did similar Love Letter projects in NYC and Syracuse as well. You can see all of the finished projects in detail here. Watch Steve Powers talk about his transition from graffiti writing to sign painting in this video interview he did with VICE.

K!d Hazo

Philadelphia-based street artist, K!d Hazo, is on the come up with signs that actually don’t involve paint. He or she is using high-quality aluminum to make signs that look just like everyday traffic signs, and then is posting them on street sign poles. So far K!d Hazo has put up three new signs in less than a month with the latest installation telling citizens “No Ghost Ridin’ Tha Whip” on South Street. You can see the signs at K!d Hazo’s website.

Amy Johnston Speaks on Behalf of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Amy Johnston, Mural Arts Program Information Specialist, was able to give me the inside scoop on the workings of the Mural Arts Program. In the audio clip below she distinguishes the main difference between mural art and graffiti art, gives a brief explanation of the program’s operation, and notes the success of the program even on a global scale.

April Forecast: Pretty Chill

Crystal Snowscape JSJ

Crystal Snowscape ©JSJ

This serene mural done by David Guinn and embedded on a building in South Philadelphia depicts the cozier side of the wintertime. After a long and cold winter I’m not saying we should expect to have anymore snow this April. My point is that David Guinn is just one of many Philadelphia Mural Arts Program staff artists who has embellished the streets of Philadelphia with articulate work like this. This spring I plan on meeting with a special surprise mural artist to discuss the humble beginnings of the Mural Arts Program to where it has sprouted now.

Things will get even cooler next month as you should expect to see a post about Philly native Steve “ESPO” Powers and the ICY sign mechanics. Powers’ graffiti name “ESPO” actually stands for “Exterior Surface Painting Outreach”. Powers and his ICY crew stopped writing graffiti in 1999. They now pursue mural painting as well as creating signs as a trade. Their signs usually consist of clever double entendres similar to the corny one I’m using about weather for this post. You can see their icy signs here.

Also, be on the look out for a video towards the latter end of the month. This video will feature some of Philly’s street art meccas along with the city’s very own citizens who will voice their opinions on the street art scene.