While finishing the “Bring Beef Lose Teef” production up in San Francisco, I got a call from Roger Gastman asking if I would be able to paint a BLADE tribute on the side of the MOCA museum and have it done within a day and a half. This whole project was a last minute decision to cover up the half ass buff job the museum put over the internet sensationalized KATSU extinguisher tag.

photo: © Martha Cooper

I wondered if KATSU had not done the tag, would they still have done a tribute for BLADE? If so I felt they should have planned it better. With the deadline so tight I had doubts on anyone doing a proper job for one of the most innovative writers in graffiti history.

Blade in Scandinavia, in front of a revamp of his 1980 wholecar

After some back an forth agreeing on terms, I jumped in the car on Tuesday afternoon, driving 6 hours straight and arriving at 11pm that night. Knowing I had roughly 34 hours to complete the job before Thursdays press conference, I decided to do everything with fat caps and with an updated treatment.

FREEDOM was the one who took on the task of designing the layout of the BLADE wall. He arranged BLADE’s characters from past trains across the top of a remodeled version of BLADE’s 1980 wholecar…

photo: © Martha Cooper

When I showed up to the museum Roger Gastman had arranged for FREEDOM’s sketch to be projected on the wall. RISK, DAME & CON were there carefully marking it up…

photo: © Martha Cooper

The hope was to save on time in getting the proportions right. Using projectors has been something that I have frowned on and even thought of as cheating. Mid way through this process I took over and loosely sketched in the missing areas. I did not want to depend too heavily on the first sketch and had plans to make changes in the painting process.

On my trips up and down on the lift, I used the FREEDOM sketch and a copy of BLADE’s train in SUBWAY ART as a reference. I reworked the shapes of each letter, giving the piece an updated look. I particularly enjoyed reworking the “A” and “D”. The first painting session lasted from 12am Wednesday up until 8:30 am. The only reason I stopped is because the lift I was using ran out of gas. In that time I managed to finish off the letters and the bottom half of the wall (CON painted in the lower cityscape)…

After a few hours rest and some around the town bullshitting, I returned to the wall and started painting again around 6:30 pm. The goal was to paint straight until done. All I had to do was paint 6 giant characters!

While painting the characters I added in some “Joe isms”, giving some more exaggerated looks, hands, patterns, and even decided to turn BLADE’s “party time” character into a drippy slice of pizza. I stopped looking at the references about 1/3 through and just relied on whatever I thought worked.

By 9am the next morning, everyone started to arrive for the press conference. I was just about done when the rental company came down to take back their lifts. Fucking around after the all-nighter, I decided to add in some fish and a COMET throw up in the lower right corner. Tired but satisfied I felt the job was accomplished.

photo: © Martha Cooper

BLADE thanking me for painting the tribute…

photo: © Martha Cooper

photo: © Steve Grody

Went out to the car, changed my shirt and shoes and caught the start of the press conference…

photo: © Jaime Rojo

Just after the press conference I was introduced to TAKI 183 and started chatting to him about graffiti’s evolution and areas of New Jersey. He told me that he only painted graffiti for two years and was unaware of much of what was going on in graffiti worldwide. I took him over to show him what I had painted for BLADE. He praised what I did then asked if the pole was part of the painting? I told him it was up for grabs…

TAKI 183 posing in front of a quick tag…

photo: © Martha Cooper


  1. jeffrey deitch installed a camera infront of this piece the other day. i guess he hates graffiti jajaja

  2. Pingback: “Art in the Streets” – LA Style « Oaktown Art

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