Is there a Rosetta Stone for graffiti?

pub%20skullHDRtmvp.jpg It is no secret we are inundated with urban art, graffiti and tagging. It’s our primal instinct to leave our mark on the landscape and communicate our story. I for one am at least intrigued by their artistry. Could someone find me the Rosetta Stone for the banger’s alphabet? A pocket size would be perfect.

Seriously, I’d like to understand what they are trying to tell me. Including the meaning of the symbols would be nice. If it’s telling me that the crazy-old-gabacho-with-camera to get the hell out I would like to know.

This skull is common in the San Gabriel River that runs through eastern Duarte near Encanto Park and the bike trail. Over the last few years, even when the river was turned on and flowing, it had incredible murals and graphics that were signed DEG or alternatively DESG which I understand is the “Duarte East Side Gang”. The incredible murals are pretty much gone, painted over with large letters and then smaller letters. Only occasionally do you see the skull anymore.

A few more pics and ideas after the jump.

420 is obvious. As is fetish. After that I am lost. Am I to presume the 3 letter combos are their monogram?
OK…BUX is new in the area. He painted over TCS whomever that was. I like the paint can idea. New here and the first I have seen it in the 5 or so years I have been documenting the area. But what does “BUX XLX BUTTLE THROWER” mean?

Ingrid is easy to understand too. Must be someone important to the artist. After that I am lost on the rest, see I do need the Urban Artist’s Rosetta Stone.

All photo’s by me. Shot RAW, post processed with Photomatix HDR and Tone Mapping then converted to jpeg for here and run through Optikverve’s Virtual Photographer for the final image clean up. I do have to thank eecue for turning me on to Photomatix.

5 thoughts on “Is there a Rosetta Stone for graffiti?”

  1. There’s a fantastic book put out by a Los Angeles independent bookseller in the 1950’s that is a fantastic guide to deciphering Eastside gang graffiti, complete with overlays showing the style’s authentic roots in Old English serif typefaces. I’ve got a copy, but it’s out on loan, and I can’t remember the title

  2. Is there any reason we give these guys a break by calling it tagging instead of vandalism?

    I totally understand that graffiti is an art form, and I can totally appreciate it, when done someplace where its been requested like the murals that some businesses and schools have…but when its obscuring road signs and painted over other murals (like the olympics one on the 110) its not art, its vandalism.


  3. is all the C14 squiggle on the sidewalks, tree’s and buildings around me art? I thought it was just ugly gang graffiti marking their area, like a dog that pees everywhere. mmmmm yum

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