From Gritty to Glossy :
The Graffiti Zine Explosion

The graffiti zines of the 1990s were first and foremost fanzines. Advances in one-hour photo-processing and access to office equipment helped facilitate graffiti’s transition from the wall to the printed page. Many indie publications also adopted analog means of production, such as collaging and hand-lettering. As graffiti demonstrated its commercial potential, writing mags graduated to the mainstream.

Though editors began receiving submissions from all over the world, many magazines remained dedicated to reporting on their home bases. Regional style varied widely, and magazines were the best way to see new and innovative work before the Internet.

Each magazine is a time capsule of graffiti and twenty-something male culture at large, ranging from toilet humor to savvy political advocacy. Together, their output makes up another chapter in twentieth-century independent publishing, building on the counterculture mags of the 1960s and ’70s and the punk zines of the 1980s. As a whole, graffiti zine makers were deeply creative, and many of these publications served as launchpads for successful art and media careers.




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