This project would have been impossible without the support and cooperation of the many people who have helped me and put up with me along the way.
Thank you to Stephanie Keller for first suggesting the idea of a book about the internet and street art and for coming up with some of the questions that I wound up asking in interviews for this project. Without Stephanie’s urging, I may have had some of the ideas that I have explored in this book, but they would have been mentioned in passing on Vandalog over a number of years and the necessary research to flesh them out would never have been done.
Researching and writing this book has kept me glued to a keyboard for countless hours for two and a half years, often at the expense of spending time with others. Thank you to my family, friends, and especially my partner Caroline Caldwell. They put up with my odd hours of work and my habit of sleeping in until 2pm and were tolerant of all the days and nights I was tucked away working instead of spending time with them.
I conducted the bulk of the research for this project and wrote the first chapter during the summer of 2012 thanks to a Tri-Co Digital Humanities Research Fellowship, so I owe a huge thanks to everyone at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, Swarthmore College, the Tri-Co Digital Humanities initiative, and The John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities. Not only did the fellowship allow me to swap living with my parents and a job serving coffee for a summer of writing and researching, but it also forced me to realize that this project was real thing. Without the fellowship, I’m sure that there would be no book.
Another early believer in Viral Art was the visionary Paulo von Vacano of Drago, who has always supported my writing and said yes to me when everyone else was saying no.
Two of my professors deserve special thanks. First, Professor Laura Holzman, who allowed me to explore some of my ideas about what could constitute street art and public art in her class Public Art in America at Swarthmore College. My final project for that class acted as a rough outline for what would eventually become this book. And of course, Professor John Muse of Haverford College, who helped me to organize my thoughts when this project was in the early stages. Professor Muse has also been instrumental shaping my conception of art both during his class Art After Conceptual Art and over the course of our friendship that has developed since then. I use what I learned in his class almost time I think about art, and what I learned from him was invaluable to this project as I had to think about just what the hell it means for something to be “street art.”
The decision to release the text of this book under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License was made largely as a result of a period of reflection and mourning following the tragic death of Aaron Swartz.
Thank you to all of the people who took the time to speak with me or sit down and type out answers to my questions. There were over 50 interviews conducted for this project. As you read further, you’ll notice a few people whom I’ve quoted or referenced extensively, but many of my interviews were helpful in less obvious ways, helping to develop my thoughts and better understand some of the critiques I will soon face. The following people were interviewed or otherwise provided input: AVOID pi, Banksy, Blek le Rat, Brian Adam Douglas aka Elbowtoe, Brooklyn Street Art’s Jaime Rojo and Steven Harrington, Bruno Levy of Sweatshoppe, C215, Caleb Neelon, Caledonia Curry aka Swoon, Carlo McCormick, Charlie Ahearn, Dabs and Myla, Dan Witz, David Schmidlapp, Dennis McNett, Diego Bergia, Don Leicht, Evan Roth, Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller of Faile, Faith47, Fred Brathwaite aka Fab 5 Freddy, Gaia, Eric Haze, Ian Strange aka Kid Zoom, James Jessop, Jane Dickson, Jay “J.SON” Edlin, Jeff Greenspan, Jeice2, John Fekner, Jordan Seiler, Kaff-Eine, Katherine Lorimer aka Luna Park, KATSU, Know Hope, Logan Hicks, Marc and Sara Schiller of The Wooster Collective, Martha Cooper, Nug, OX, Pedro Alonzo, Poster Boy, Robyn Hasty aka Imminent Disaster, Ron English, Rub Kandy, Shepard Fairey, Space Invader, Tanley Wong of Arrested Motion, Tod Seelie, Workhorse and PAC of The Underbelly Project, and Yote.
Thanks you to everyone involved in making the cover of Viral Art. General Howe came up with the concept and designed it. Martha Cooper let us use her photograph of a blank subway car. The artworks on the cars are by Jay “J.SON” Edlin, Diego Bergia and General Howe.
Thank you to all of the people whose art and art documentation I have used in this book. Without that content, Viral Art would be a lot less interesting and understandable. Of particular importance are the many hobbyist photographers and filmmakers who spend a considerable amount of time and energy documenting street art and graffiti for the love of it. Please see the credits page for a full list of the people whose work has been used in Viral Art.
Finally, thank you to those who helped to edit this book. Caroline Caldwell, Rhiannon Platt, Luke McManus, Mike Rushmore, Jillian Steinhauer, Thy Vo, Kendall Whitehouse and many of the interviewees, particularly Jay “J.SON” Edlin. Without the contributions of these editors, all of whom volunteered their time, this book would be little more than the error-riddled ramblings of a madman. Maybe it still is. If so, my bad.