Of all the well known and skilled graffiti artist in the world, which is in the thousands, there are a handful that I still to this day are admired for their uniqueness. Since graffiti is a limited artform in the sense that it is confined to an alphabet, it can be easy for artists to get stuck within certain perameters. There are guidelines one pretty much has to go by in their letter structuring so that each letter keeps the integrity of its original shape, so it is not mistaken as another letter or an abstract design. This is a difficulty many novices have in trying to create more intricate or wilder styles; they don’t know how to make their letters distinguishable as an alphabet is designed to be. And personally, im bored with most graffiti because it is influenced with our society’s need to get it right, right away, for the sake of fitting in with the herd; graffiti is greatly stagnant and dead. And some people say “graffiti is dead” because the NYC trains aren’t running, or because everybody’s doing it. But I have a deeper view of it; graffiti is dead because the artists have not tapped into the life within themselves with which they can inject into their artwork. They are slaves to their egos in their rebellion against formality.
In the beginning this leads to a need to copy other peoples styles to figure out just how to make some sort of “acceptable” and appealing graffiti. In the long run, this can end up in a limit of an individuals lettering style because it has been so heavily influenced through the need to cling to the pack and do as the “others.” As I mentioned, there's a few graffiti writers I still admire. One of them is “BATES “ from Copenhagen, Denmark.
The reason I love Bates graffiti is because he plays with his graffiti. In most of his pieces, even though they all read “BATES” (sometimes only to the trained eye), they are all tweaked a bit and have their own style and flare. Bates is an explorer. And what other is the point of making art than to explore yourself, your tools and play and have fun?
Another thing that I like about his artwork is that his themed murals seem to never have that overly serious “im too cool for school” hip-hop vibe, that bugs the sh*t out of me. Even in a mural where there's a quote bubble “we got the magic touch,” which would be expressed in a cocky manner by many writers, in this one the quote is being said by a cartoony purple witch for the play on words. And this is not to say his work is all cute and silly. A lot of his pieces have a “sickkkkk” or “badassss” feel to them. The guy's got skills. Check out this short video that shows an array of styles, and also his website http://greatbates.com/ (Great is his painting buddy)