It’s a small, harmless-looking, soft cover, just over 100 colorful pages. For better or worse, its contents have become a source of inspiration. It has been pocketed from bookstore shelves, reappearing in crime scene photographs alongside spray cans and markers. The images on its pages have been studied like hieroglyphs and copied on surfaces across the globe.
Mr. Chalfant and Ms. Cooper realized that their different perspectives complemented each other and combined their work in a book prop. They attribute anti-graffiti sentiment to the book’s rejection by every American publisher to whom they submitted it.
– Mr. Ogburn
“Their book changed our art history. You can go to Sudan or go to Italy and see graf because of that book. It otherwise would have stayed right here and died.”
“Subway Art” has sold over half a million copies worldwide. It is also rumored to have been one of the most stolen books. “It was very much a how-to book, which I think accounted for its popularity around the world,” Ms. Cooper recalled. “Now kids could really have a blueprint if they wanted to do it.”