People tend to want to brag about an achievement. And there is nothing wrong with wanting recognition for something you aspire to do. But at what point does the ability to boast about something, rather than the goal you are aiming for, become the sole motivator for undertaking the goal in the first instance?
All I can think of is being fourteen, sitting in the city library watching a VHS copy of Style Wars with some friends, being able to relate to doodling on the paper, or being there and bombing it. Back then in Perth, we had the one writers bench in the middle of town. If you were a writer, regardless if you just scratched windows occasionally or if you painted pieces every night, you'd go sit there while your photos developed, tried to sell acquired electronics to other writers and in general just hang out. We did however have the luxury of having one graffiti shop masquerading as an automotive paint store. If you saw a piece that wasn't painted with a chisel, you knew they had gotten the paint from Monty's. The community was very small. And in some ways, the styles that were born of that era reflected that. There were two handstyles, the "junkie" handstyle or the artfag handstyle. If you had mastered both, you were a king. You could always tell just from looking at a tag when someone was from the Fremantle line or if they were from the Midland line.
But like everything, the scene changes. You either move with the times or get left behind. The saying "You're not old school, you're just getting older" comes to mind. Herald the rise of the internet, social media and the Perth Rail Unit's mind maps of who was lining out who, and who got arrested together.
You didn't have to sit at a bench to see photos, hell, you didn't even have to be in the same city as them to see something that was done the night before. It got harder to tell where someone was from, everyone had seen Dirty Handz 2 or Area 08. You could tell who was in a crew together just by looking at their top eight friends. The cliquey element of graffiti, which was always there, got a lot more apparent and lines were drawn.
But it helped in other ways. Like a piece with seven hundred arrows, connections you couldn't see became tangible. If you wanted a new stainer recipe, jump on the internet. Need an interstate hookup for your next welfare cheque sponsored tour? Jump on the internet. Want to work out the freight timetables? You didn't have to sit in a frosty cold bush worried about getting bitten by a rent-a-dog, just Google a civilian rail devotee forum and troll for content. A new breed evolved. Graffiti had become a more mainstream concept and had attracted people that were otherwise not inclined to participate. Graffiti had always been a contact sport, but now the people watching from the sidelines had every opportunity to become players. Which again, isn't a completely bad thing.
Which brings us back to motivations. When did the flick of a piece, whether it's posted to Instagram or not, become more important than the piece itself? At what stage did passing your blackbook around become less collating styles, and more collecting autographs? The Id, the Ego and the Super-ego, conflicting ideas of self, style, anti style, box cutters, Nike Tailwinds, North Face jackets and foil lined booster bags all lead one to a conclusion.
If you don't click like, we've got beef.