Street Art & Graffiti Atlas: 85+ Essential Artists from Around the World

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About the Author
Darryl McCray, better known by his tagging name "Cornbread", is widely considered the world's first modern graffiti artist. Born in Philadelphia in 1953 and raised in Brewerytown, he and a group of friends started "tagging" the city around 1965, writing their nicknames on walls and developing a distinct, non-gang related style. The movement spread to New York and gave rise to the modern graffiti movement, which reached its pinnacle in the U.S. in the 1980s and then spread to Europe, but it all started with Cornbread in Philadelphia. His first big project was "Cornbread Loves Cynthia", a declaration of love for a girl in his class at Strawberry Mansion Junior High School, which he tagged everywhere along their route home. This would later become the inspiration for the world-famous mural series "Love Letters" that adorns 50 rooftops and walls across West Philadelphia. In 2007, documentary filmmaker Sean McKnight made a film called Cry of the City Part 1: The Legend of Cornbread. In August 2013, McCray was honored at the Graffiti Hall of Fame in East Harlem for his contribution to hip-hop culture. His work is included in the seminal exhibition "Beyond The Streets" curated by graffiti historian Roger Gastman. Among his most spectacular graffiti feats are tagging a touring jet carrying the Jackson 5 after it landed in Philadelphia and sneaking into the Philadelphia Zoo to tag an elephant, an act later "borrowed" by world famous street and conceptual artist Banksy. Since his tagging days, McCray has developed a close relationship with The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, using his platform and fame to advocate for young, local Philadelphia artists who share his passion for art.