Having been removed from its grubby, angry natural environs and welcomed into people’s homes and art collections, the notion of graffiti has been somewhat gentrified in recent years.
However, for every Big Book of Banksy proudly displayed on a middle-class Islington coffee table, there’s scribbled black lettering tell us to ‘fuck off’, or a charming, crudely drawn depiction of a misshapen mouse.
It’s this not-so-great graffiti that is celebrated so deliciously in artist Scott Hocking’s new book, Bad Graffiti.
The collection of mostly bleak but frequently hilarious images is the result of Hocking’s travels around derelict and abandoned buildings.
Throughout the pages of this quietly witty little book, we see the ubiquity of scrawled sexual organs as a kite-mark of what makes bad graffiti, well, bad. In his introduction, Hocking says, ‘of course, adding breasts or penises to anything almost guarantee instant inclusion into the bad graffiti oeuvre – the equivalent to adding “in bed” at the end of a fortune cookie reading.
‘There are so many dicks painted on the walls of a particular vacant building in Detroit, I could easily fill a book entitled The Poorly Drawn Penises of Michigan Central Station.’
Breaking from the book’s phallus-filled pages are numerous hilarious missives that the artists have decided to impart to the general public, with nothing but a wall and spray can as their medium. We learn, for instance that ‘C-biscuit loves brisket’, ‘crack inspector coming soon’, ‘cocaine is goode’ and that ‘real hoe’s stay strong.’
Though we’re not condoning vandalism, put together with Hocking’s careful eye, it’s tags like these that perhaps act as a far more accurate barometer of the cities they adorn than a carefully constructed stencil-outline or painstakingly painted image. While they make little to no sense, these ugly imprints are a funny, irreverent and often overlooked commentary on the environments we live in.
Bad Graffiti is available now, published by Black Dog Publishing priced £9.95