“I didn’t do it, but if I did – I was drunk”
The opening statement of The Grifters Code is a fitting one, when considering the brands infamous history in graffiti over the last half decade. Feverishly documenting the many facets and inner workings throughout the European graffiti scene, The Grifters founder Good Guy Boris (or President Boris to some), has skewed the idea of graffiti to many, by presenting the lifestyle of a writer, with honesty, via a modern portrayal. Whether it be by void of the art, blatant exposure of the practice or simply assisting writers and having their work be available as a product, The Grifters have always worked by their own ideology in this always (respectfully) traditional landscape. Having spread their energy across a number of projects over the years, The Grifters Code Book provides a curated and personal backstage peek into the unique mind of one of modern day graffiti’s biggest ambassadors, as he offers a retelling of some of his biggest projects and the code of conduct in presenting them. Dressed in the same hi-vis uniform shared between writers and those who hunt them, this finely crafted record, is a noteworthy piece of graffiti history, one which should be welcomed on any paint covered bookshelf.
Having famously shared the exploits of writers like: Utah & Ether, 1UP Crew and Moses & Taps over the years, it’s clear that Boris & co. have an affinity with the unwarranted corners of graffiti writing. Starting with it’s origins and ethos, The Grifters Code Book is a selectively thorough insight into this ongoing enterprise, one that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Through writing this review, I’ve jungled a number of words to describe just what The Grifters is: A brand? An online journal? A video series? Curators? I’m not quite sure, but what I do know is that The Grifters represents the current state of how graffiti should be presented in this day and age. For many, graffiti is simply: the act of writing on a surface, but that doesn’t do this lifestyle the justice it deserves. From the time consuming scouts and the heavily planned out journeys – along with the possibility of everything going wrong in between. These cities don’t revolve themselves around these acts, but minor changes in time, unrelated events and maybe even a bit of drinking beforehand, can make any mission quickly turn sour. Dividing itself among 4 written chapters, readers get a look into these inner-workings, as the images supporting them extend on the words laid across a number of pages. Despite having all the tools to do so, this contemporary way of openly sharing such projects, is still quite rare, yet they are important opportunity, as they say more about those who participate, as opposed to what is produced in the dark of the night. The same can be said about the author: Boris, as he extracts the many downfalls and triumphs of curating The Grifters, a task that may seem easier in comparison, but one that holds its own list of challenges and caution. From following said writers as they perform these acts, to the holding of criminal footage, followed by the responsibility of making it engaging to an (always critical) audience. In these cases the author holds as many much risks as those supplying them, making his involvement just as important as the act itself. While some may argue that this form of documentation shields the spotlight from the writers themselves, The Grifters Code’s case by case anthology shows that their involvement and constitution to capsuling graffiti today is as essential to what is released.
Many books have shared the unthanked efforts many writers have applied over the years, but few allow those around them to tie together their efforts as well as Boris does. Tightly formatted and a pure joy to read, The Grifter’s Code Book is not only a document of one of the graffiti world’s biggest characters, but it also serves a line in the sand for how we perceive, present and share the culture in the evolving future. Graffiti will always be a cornerstone of youth culture, as its energetic freedom correlates with its many rules and pleasantries, but as steadily pace toward a new decade, we must also choose to evolve and embrace new avenues to share this ongoing phenomenon, with The Grifters being a prime example as how and why.
- THE GRIFTERS CODE BOOK: DOCUMENTING MODERN GRAFFITI is available now, exclusively through The Grifter Online Store (linked below)
- Click here for more work from THE GRIFTERS via The Fourth Walls
- Click here for more from GOOD GUY BORIS via The Fourth Walls