Letterform Archive announces first-of-its-kind exhibition capturing the innovation and community of graffiti
Subscription to Mischief: Graffiti Zines of the 1990s
May 6, 2023 – Jan 7, 2024
Date & Time
May 4, 2023, 9:30am–12pm
SAN FRANCISCO, California, April 13, 2023 — Letterform Archive announces Subscription to Mischief: Graffiti Zines of the 1990s, a new exhibition exploring 1990s indie graffiti zines and original works by graffiti writers of the era, on view beginning May 6, 2023.
Subscription to Mischief is co-curated by Kate Long Stellar of Letterform Archive and guest curated by Greg Lamarche (Sp.One), Kel Troughton, and David Villorente (Chino BYI). The exhibition draws from the collections of Letterform Archive and of Greg Lamarche, creator of Skills Magazine; a seminal ’90s graffiti publication. It will feature 40+ zines, as well as letters, flick trade photos, and submissions which document various pieces, throwups, and handstyles by both prominent and lesser-known graffiti writers of the era including: Amaze/ Josh Lazcano, Jocelyn Superstar, Power / Tim Treacy, Raven / Allen Benedikt, Reas / Todd James, Sacha Jenkins, Shepard Fairey, and many more.
“The Skills archive captures a pivotal moment in graffiti history, documenting a time when practitioners transitioned into publishers, which helped the artform take root around the world,” says co-curator Greg Lamarche.
During the 1990s, as graffiti became increasingly criminalized, writers found another way to show their work: by using photocopiers and personal computers to print small-run zines that reached audiences far beyond their own cities. Independent graffiti publications became highly coveted, gave writers a place to showcase their work, and created an avenue for practitioners to become documentarians of their own culture. Subscription to Mischief is a time capsule of graffiti letterforms and a tribute to the community formed through snail mail. 12oz Prophet, Can Control, Graphic Scenes & X-plicit Language, and IGTimes are among the groundbreaking publications featured in the exhibition.
“Beyond dedicating our gallery to their innovative work, this show is an exciting opportunity to welcome the graffiti community into a wider circle of calligraphers, lettering artists, and type designers,” says Kate Long Stellar. “These makers all have so much in common, but don’t always get to share the same space.”
Lectures, gallery tours, and other special events—both in-person and online—will accompany the exhibition throughout its run. For those who are not able to visit the gallery in San Francisco, Subscription to Mischief will join Letterform Archive’s first two shows as a rich online exhibition. The website will be available to all for a limited time and permanently accessible to Archive members. Complete details will be released on the Archive’s website and through its mailing list.
$10 for adults; $5 for students and seniors (65+); Archive members and children under 12 free. Free to the public on Thursdays. Advance tickets available at https://letterformarchive.org/visit.
Regular Exhibition Hours
Thu, 1–8pm (free admission); Fri–Sun, 11am–6pm; closed Mon–Wed.
About Greg Lamarche (Sp. One)
Born and raised in New York, Greg Lamarche began writing graffiti on the streets and subways in 1981, and published Skills, a seminal graffiti magazine, in the early 1990s. Lamarche has worked as both fine artist and graphic designer since 2000, and has been featured in numerous publications including the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Print, and Juxtapoz. His work is also featured in several books, including Graffiti New York (Abrams 2009) and The History of American Graffiti (Harper Collins, 2011). Lamarche created the cover graphics for World Piecebook (Prestel, 2011).
About Kate Long Stellar
Kate Long Stellar is the Librarian at Letterform Archive, where she leads the collections department, helped launch the organization's Online Archive, and serves on the curatorial team. She earned her MLIS from Drexel University. Stellar has co-curated six exhibitions from the Archive's collection, and her design writing has appeared in the Archive's blog and Adobe Create Magazine.
About Kel Troughton
Kel Troughton is a type designer, lettering artist, graffiti writer, and educator. He works with Letterform Archive and Kate Long Stellar to collect graffiti magazines, drawings, and books. He started writing graffiti in 2000 and has continued to add interests that are letter related ever since. His company Overlap Type focuses on type design that utilizes ideas from his graffiti experience. In short, Kel is a letter person.
About David Villorente (Chino BYI)
David Villorente is one of the foremost practitioners and ambassadors of graffiti culture in the world. His reign as the eleven-year editor of the "Graf Flix" feature in The Source magazine helped cement his position as an important arbiter within the global graffiti community. Villorente has co-authored numerous books on graffiti culture including; Mascots & Mugs (Testify Books, 2007), Piecebook, Piecebook Reloaded, World Piecebook (Prestel, 2008–2011) and The ABC's of Style (Testify Books, 2018). Villorente was also the co-curator of the critically acclaimed 2013 exhibit Write of Passage at the Red Bull Studios New York, and co-curated the groundbreaking Beyond the Streetsexhibition.
About Letterform Archive
Based in San Francisco, Letterform Archive is a nonprofit center for inspiration, education, and community. It preserves important artifacts in the history of letterforms and graphic design, and it strives to actively share them with the public. Since it opened to visitors in 2015, the collection has quintupled in size through the generosity of donors, and now includes over 85,000 items related to the letter arts. Lovers of letters will again have hands-on access to the collection when its new reading room opens in summer 2022. The Archive serves a global community through social media, publications, and the Online Archive, and offers a full-year postgraduate certificate program in type design as well as public workshops in calligraphy, lettering, and typography. Additionally, the Archive curates local and international exhibitions, organizes lectures, and hosts salons to showcase collections.Learn more at letterformarchive.org.