Many graffiti artists carry sketchbooks, called black books, and they ask crew members and others whose work they admire to inscribe their books with lettering or drawings. A few years ago, the Getty Research Institute invited artists, including Angst, Axis, Big Sleeps, Chaz, Cre8, Defer, EyeOne, Fishe, Heaven, Hyde, Look, ManOne, and Prime, to consider the idea of a citywide graffiti black book. During visits to the Getty Center, the artists viewed rare books related to calligraphy and letterforms, including works by Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci. The artists instantly recognized the connections to their own practices and were particularly drawn to a liber amicorum (book of friends), a form of autograph book popular in the seventeenth century. Passed from hand to hand, it was filled with signatures, poetry, and coats of arms, like a black book from another era.
Getty Research Institute
Hardcover, 176 pages