An Oral History of Graffiti Writing's First Generation

Graffiti: it's not just for hooligans anymore! Granted, tagging can still be easily reduced to a destructive and annoying act by just about anybody, but for the most part, graffiti has become a much more widely-accepted art form. In fact, it's often referred to by less pejorative names, and enjoys a degree of legitimacy that can be seen reflected in the careers of people like Shepard Fairey or the elusive Banksy.

Even more interesting than charting a course for how far street art and graffiti have come since there inception, though, is exploring the places where it actually had its start in the first place. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as counterculture was on the rise, various pockets of the country saw nascent communities springing up around a newly-formed combination of subculture and art form: graffiti writing.

Flint Gennari was not only one of the earliest — and perhaps most well-known — members of the graffiti writing community in late-1960s Brooklyn, but he would later go on to become one of its most highly-respected documentarians, his photography capturing the faces and exploits of the Brooklyn graffiti scene like nobody else could or had.

Inspired in part by the billboards and advertisements he saw around him in New York and in part by the secret identities of his favorite Marvel characters , Flint started etching his own slogans (things like "for those who dare") and signing them as FLINT. The nickname? He got it when he busted out a move from the movie Our Man Flint during a schoolyard fight in his boyhood.

You can check out a much more complete interview with Flint Gennari over at Dazed magazine, along with a ton more photos, and they are definitely worth your time.