Tags 'R' Us - graffiti superstore

  Metlink_Melb Junior Train Controller

Tags 'R' Us - graffiti superstoreCHRIS TINKLER, CARLY CRAWFORD and ANDREA BURNS
January 07, 2007 12:00am

Exclusive: A GRAFFITI vandals superstore is operating under the noses of authorities in Melbourne.

The shop, called Giant, specialises in graffiti paraphernalia, even offering an out-of-hours service.
It boasts "Melbourne's largest range of aerosol paint", as well as nozzles designed for illegal scrawls.

Authorities are powerless to stop the trade under current laws.

The store also stocks graffiti magazines showcasing thousands of tags and scrawls on trains in Melbourne and around the world, as well as hooded and masked vandals brazenly posing as they deface public property.

Vandals profiled include two leaders of the notorious crew 70K, whom the Sunday Herald Sun has learned have extended their tagging spree to Britain.

A Giant store attendant told a reporter yesterday: "Fat caps (nozzles) are for illegal stuff like spray painting the sides of trains, when you are in a hurry.

"Obviously, this store is geared more towards graffiti than street art. Melbourne has a large underground graffiti scene for its size."

The North Melbourne store advertises itself on two of the city's biggest pro-graffiti website homepages. One shows more than 5000 acts of vandalism across the city, including 450 train attacks, and the second highlights scrawlings suburb by suburb.

The Giant shop's phone message includes a mobile number for people to call if they need paint in the night -- by appointment.

Giant owner Clarke Aaron admitting to advertising on graffiti websites, saying street art was a "great medium".

"We supply art materials. I'm not responsible for what people do with them. I'm not saying, 'Go paint graffiti'," Mr Aaron said.

State government spokesman Geoff Fraser said: "We do not support anything that encourages graffiti."

But he said that selling spray paint was not illegal.

As the annual graffiti clean-up cost approaches $100 million, calls are growing for stores to hide spray cans and ban their sale to under-18s.

RAGE (Residents Against Graffiti Everywhere) founder Steve Beardon said the Giant store should be closed.

"This is totally unacceptable," Mr Beardon said.

"The authorities need to take a stronger stance and stamp out operations like this which enable vandals to wreak havoc across the city."
At a "graffiti jam" in the CBD's Caledonian Lane yesterday, where businesses allow their walls to be painted, youths with spray cans did not want to be photographed at work.

A youth covering his face with one hand and brandishing a paint can in the other charged at the photographer, saying: "You can't take photographs -- some of what we do is illegal."

British police are closing in on two of Melbourne's worst graffiti vandals, who have fled the country and launched an international tagging spree.

Victorian and British police are tracking the leaders of the 70K graffiti crew, who are responsible for up to $1 million in graffiti damage.

The duo, who use the tags "Stan" and "Bonez", left Australia in late 2005 as anti-graffiti police prepared to arrest them.

Public comment is being sought on a government plan to tackle the graffiti scourge, including clamp-downs on people carrying spray cans on and near public transport and on private property.


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  Mickelaar The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: At the layout, tinkering.
The part I dont understand, they claim to not promote grafitti, yet sell magazines of grafitti? They're contradicting them selves there. They even sell illegal nozzles that are designed for spray painting! Come on, how much more obvious can one be! I mean they advertise on grafitti websites. How can authorities not be able to stop this! What ever law need changing... ferchrissakes change it!

And selling paint at night on special order... Again, making it easier for them. I cant see why the authorities can not shut this down immediatly. They ARE promoting vandalism!

I tried to google this place quickly to hand out their details, but both that and the white pages online failed to turn up anything.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I'm appalled Exclamation Puke
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

I wonder what their attitude would be if they suffered a severe 'tagging'?
  Mickelaar The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: At the layout, tinkering.
I wonder what their attitude would be if they suffered a severe 'tagging'?
ARent graffiti vandals in gangs? If it did happen, they'd probably band together and clean it themselves, then blame some authority, calling it an attack on art or some jargon, and start a vandalism war. It's OK for them.
  Autopenguin Assistant Commissioner

I tried to google this place quickly to hand out their details, but both that and the white pages online failed to turn up anything.

A bit of Googling on my own part turned up this:


Not just Giant, but four other graffiti paint stores in Melbourne alone.

Have a look around that site, by the way: this is a company that manufactures paint for the specific purpose of graffiti use. They even supply their paint with an "outliner" nozzle!

Of course they're so socially responsible:

"We believe graffiti art is a legitimate artform, which is why we have interest in supporting it when done legitimately. We cannot be held responsible if our product is misused."

Funny, then, that the "competition winners" pictures on their main news page all appear to be massive murals done illegally on other peoples' property...
  PaxInfo Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Funny, then, that the "competition winners" pictures on their main news page all appear to be massive murals done illegally on other peoples' property...

I wonder how the store's owners would feel if rail passengers  (or some militant gunzel sect) did to their cars and homes what some of their customers apparently do to our trains and rail infrastructure.  

I suspect they'd be the first to (rightly) accuse them of vandalism and phone the police.  Funny how people change their squirt when the can's on the other nozzle Wink

  lordofthesheep Train Controller

Location: Where facts are few and experts are many, Vic
Funny, then, that the "competition winners" pictures on their main news page all appear to be massive murals done illegally on other peoples' property...

Not that I in any way condone vandalism, but the mural could have been done on their own property, or property owned by someone who wanted I done. Occasionally, there are shops and such that actually have a quite nice look from the paintjob. The prize should not exist however, but if it really is proper and legal art, rather than 'tagging', then I think it's ok if it looks good.

By the way, the old signal box type building on platform 1/2 at Burnley actually looks ok with graffiti art style pant work.
  northbritish Chief Train Controller

I hate graffiti and its creators with a white hot rage. This store is the arsenal of the enemy and is therefore a legitimate target. A 600ml bottle of petrol tipped in the right place and introduced to a lighter would cause a certain "hot" reaction even more so if it was a concerted attack by several anti graffiti folks.


Not that I condone any violence or damage to graffiti mongrels /sarcasm off

  Metro Transit Minister for Railways

Location: Error.
It's totally disgusting, these people have no respect for public property, and then they go ahead and open a graffiti superstore, these places should be illegal and they owners should go to jail.
  The Met Chief Commissioner

Location: 37.55-S /145.01-E
I still like my idea, of allowing under 18's having spray paint (though, numerous 'above' 18 also vandalise with paint)

And have a restricted allowance, like some sort of permit. There are other pro's to having some kind of permit or an induvidual.. etc..

But anyway, the war isn't over yet.
  comeng_2006 Junior Train Controller

Location: Frankstoned Line
I agree that the old signal box at Burnley plat.1&2 looks good, that sort of graffiti I believe is ok because there has been thought put into it by owners and other community groups, not just people who are bored and want to tag because they think its cool. There needs to be harsher penalitys for illegal tagging.
  Torykins Chillaxis of Evil

Location: Scum Albans
People should quit lumping 'tagging' and actual art created through the use of aerosol cans into the same category. Whilst tags are mindless 'territorial markings' of sorts that pre and post-pubescent 'rebels' rely on to portray themselves as hip and edgy with tonnes of street cred, actual 'graffiti' art is perhaps one of the most amazing things one could ever lay eyes on. Sure, it's often done on other people's property, but it attracts attention to that propety - something that would be very beneficial in the case of a business.

Most graffiti art murals are done with careful consideration of artistic elements and are eye-catching. They break up the monotony of the landscape and give people something to look at and think about; generally these murals raise political and social issues whilst remaining rather surrealist at the same time. Tagging and graffiti are polar opposites and, whilst both rely on the use of aerosol cans, one is done mindlessly for image whilst the other is created for our benefit.

If graffiti murals were created using oil paints or gouache, they'd be considered masterpieces and be kept sacred - don't assume they're trash just because of the medium used.
  n0rks Beginner

Location: Brisbane
Ahhhh, now this is something I just gotta throw my hat in the ring about. I guessed it was an appropriate time to actually get involved instead of just lurking about, heh.

Anyway, I must say, this thread actually hurts me. It breaks my heart. But then, I guess that's only to be expected given everything. But I just have to ask this... how many of you have ever supported companies such as Billabong, K-Mart, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Rockstar Games, General Pants, Channel V, Optus, Sony Ericsson, and even Sony? If you have, then... I hate to break it to you, but you've supported companies who have paid to have this exact same thing you're trying to damn produced for them, and they've paid extremely well. The irony really coming in being that the majority of people who have posted here already can't actually define what Graffiti even is. Sure, it's 'tags'. And sure, they're mostly hideous. And sure, it does create a breakdown. But what the majority of people are failing to realise is that that is a minute niche of the movement. That's all that you guys get exposed to, and even then it's incredibly biased away from the arguably good side of it. There is a massive underground movement that someone outside of it will never see, nor ever actually understand.

A little background: I participated in this movement from age 10, up until I was about 15. That included a huge number of walls, highways, drains, pavements, fences, roofs, and even a few bins. While I never painted a train during that time, I did have the knowhow. What I did do, was meet some incredible people, and picked up the knowhow to create some incredible works using a media most people consider to be reserved for two-bit thugs and heartless bastards. With that skill, I've gone on to participate in internationally-recognized excellence in art awards hosted by the education minister of Queensland, in which I did incredibly well. A work of what is arguably "graffiti" being on display in a gallery and being well-received? What's this? That cannot be!

As for the comment about Ironlak being purely Graffiti, open your minds a bit kids. I recently spent $280 on aerosol alone, the majority of which was Ironlak, not a single drop of which has touched anything in an unlawful manner or mode. To boot, I also spent approximately $50 on these supposed "graffiti-intended" caps, again, none of which have been used unlawfully. Also, the statements about illegal graffiti being on their site is false. The murals are done legally, and good logic will approve this. What company which has struggled tooth-and-nail to get incorporated is really going to blatantly advertise illegal usage of their product? It doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to work this out.

Choke train buffers like a headlocked Ed Koch
Nurture the craft of concrete visionaries
Cave painters screaming "Loosen the cuffs!"
Cave paintings get the natural history feather dust
Pick a lust.

Grafiti isn't just these scrawls you see downtown on the walls. Graffiti is a living, breathing global community, and it won't be stopped. Not now, not ever. So, my suggestion to you is find a way to deal with it properly, otherwise you're going to be suffering it for an eternity, my friends.

Hat tip: http://newklear.org/blog/memoirs/2006/08/05/understanding-graffiti/
  S 301 Chief Commissioner

Location: in front of the computer
I've seen in plenty of places this 'graffiti' showing history, especially when it's showing something like a train going through a station with the old signs. They had on one of the current affair shows the other night, a guy standing in front of a very well done station sign that was being portrayed as 'graffiti'. When I lived in Mitcham we were going to get a mate (Who knew of people who did this sort of thing) to paint a big train mural on our back fence. Nothing ever came of it though Sad

On the other hand you have tagging. Even our house (Well front gate) has been hit by this graffiti. Upper Gully, Upwey, Tecoma, Belgrave, Selby, Menzies Creek have 2-4 gangs of vandle, that include taggers. My school has even been hit. Both by tagging and rock throwing.

I still believe that graffiti artists should be given somewhere to create their art, eve a wall for the taggers (Or even both if need be, the artist can have some fun overwriting the taggers at the same time Very Happy ).

Just my 5c worth.
  Jason R Chief Commissioner

Location: Socialist People's Republic of Yarra.
n0rks, I think you will find that most members here will have few qualms with legal graffiti art, such as the Whitelion mural at Burnley Station. Sure, some may feel it is aesthetically displeasing, but you can't please everyone.

It is the illegal and unwanted graffiti which we hold disdain for, particularly on trains.
  42101 Banned

Location: Banned
No just shoot the losers who are nothing but parasites and tosser scum.
Graff tossers are NOT artists.
  EvanC Chief Plonker

Location: Bayswater, Victoria
No just shoot the losers who are nothing but parasites and tosser scum.
Graff tossers are NOT artists.
That's rather narrow-minded.

I agree entirely with Jason. Legal graffiti art is fine, in my opinion. Some of it I don't entirely like the look of, but that's just my preference - I loathe a lot of that "modern art" crap they have at the NGV moreso! Keep it legal and tagfree, and I won't criticise it.

Note: my usage of legal means that permission has been sought from the property owner, and that the wishes of that person in the design of the mural have been considered. If access was required via other peoples/railway land, permission should be sought for that too, and any necessary safety measures taken.
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
The Whitelion mural looks a lot better than the 1970's graffiti on the factory on the #4 side of Burnley.

I miss the graffiti that once stood in (disused) Box Hill platform 1 - you can't forget seeing breasts painted on the wall when you're only about 8! Laughing
  n0rks Beginner

Location: Brisbane
Unfortunately, legal graffiti cannot exist without the illegal side of it. Same way that graffiti can't exist without tagging, nor without the muraling side of it either. It comes as a whole, as a single entity with a whole heap of different tangents. Take one aspect away, and the entire thing gets out of control, and manifests into something even worse.

I have grown to dislike some of it too, but I do think a lot of it is liable to an unfair collective lumping from people at large.
  EvanC Chief Plonker

Location: Bayswater, Victoria
Unfortunately, legal graffiti cannot exist without the illegal side of it.
Why not? It's not like those valid, legal, graffiti artists actually have to do illegal graffiti and tags. If they, in any case, do such things, they've lost my approval instantly.

If the cost of reducing illegal graffiti is to reduce legal graffiti, in my opinion that's a justified cost. Though I'd prefer that the legal side be unharmed.
  n0rks Beginner

Location: Brisbane
It can't exist as a single entity because they thrive off of one another. Legal graffiti occurs concurrently with the illegal side, oftentimes done by the people who create it less than lawfully. However, and this is a big however, they are generally not the ones responsible for the smeg tags everyone seems so willing to get angry about, rather, are the people who've been out creating these huge, colourful, mindblowing pieces of art (and they are, regardless of media and mode) we see scattered around. The ones people seem to have issue with are the ones who really aren't actually involved in the true heart of it all. But, everyone has to start somewhere... Da Vinci didn't paint Mona Lisa in his first week of holding a brush now did he?

Also, for knowledge sake: graffiti is a member of the hip-hop movement. Breakdance, turntablism, graffiti and hip-hop are all the same thing. Only taking it all away will be in any way effective. But then, you have to question the constitutional rights we're guaranteed it impedes on to do so.
  Torykins Chillaxis of Evil

Location: Scum Albans


Using that logic, the paintings on the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michaelangelo don't allow him to classify as an artist  Rolling Eyes
  EvanC Chief Plonker

Location: Bayswater, Victoria
It can't exist as a single entity because they thrive off of one another. Legal graffiti occurs concurrently with the illegal side, oftentimes done by the people who create it less than lawfully.
A genuine question: What is the attitude of such people with regard to the law? Ie - is it that the law is wrong, that it is irrelevant, that breaking it is a necessary sacrifice?
  n0rks Beginner

Location: Brisbane
In absolute honesty, an answer that is cut-and-dusted true for every single case is impossible. Every person I ever spoke to that was involved, is involved or will be involved has had a different take on the situation. I know a lot take the law in disdain through poor treatment over previous indiscretions, another sizable portion deem it a necessity to impede on it, and the vast majority feel it is at least sort of incorrect.

Personally, my take on it was that it was always something I was willing to live with. I was willing to risk everything for freedom of expression, and received an incredible amount of chases as a result. Ironically, I never touched a piece of private property in that time (it was all what is considered "public"). I definitely feel management of the law in regards to it is completely smeg-backwards (see the link I posted in the first post, it's a thesis I wrote on the subject), and as a result it actually *feeds* it.

As it goes, there's a lot worse crimes to be had than what is arguably making something beautiful (in some circumstances).

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