London Burners book (Prestel) | graffiti book by Jete Swami

Another day, another new graf book. Can anyone else recall when there were only a handful of books on the subject? ‘Subway Art’, ‘Spraycan Art’… a few obscurities from the ’70s and early ’80s… and a small selection of foreign language books. That was about all my library consisted of, at least until the early ’90s. In the past couple of years there have been some substantial publications, at last moving back to the hardcore graf subject as opposed to art gallery catalogues and stencil guides. There’s been some serious horseshit put onto the bookshelves in the past 10 years, so it’s nice to see a return to quality again.

And, on the topic of quality, we’ve got ‘London Burners’ here. I only found out about this book when Amazon threw it up as a suggestion based on my previous purchases. With so much crap out there, my interest in graf books has waned slightly over the past few years, but this one seemed to stand out above the torrent of street art nonsense that was presented to me. The cover alone – daytime full-colour Tube panels – had me nudging towards the virtual shopping basket.

The publisher’s blurb on the back cover sells the book as a ‘photographic project’, which is true to a certain extent. But whilst the photos are pretty consistently good throughout, it’s the graf inside that will have you drooling. No wall pieces, no pages wasted on crew poses or paraphernalia: it’s almost 100% pure London train action. Plenty of action shots are included, but the bulk of the imagery inside consists of pure train panels. Steel, steel, steel throughout.

It’s a fairly concentrated representation of the London graf community – one main crew dominates the majority of the content – but that’s no bad thing, as the pieces on the whole are top notch and haven’t been plastered in other books or magazines. The text in the book is minimal, preferring to have a few pages of missions, chases and opinions rather than in-depth interviews or profiles – but what’s included is cool to read.

Another worthy addition to your bookshelves, ‘London Burners’ will sit nicely between Crack & Shine and London Handstyles as the spotlight on homegrown graf continues to shine. At around £12 from various online places, you’re much better off spending the money on this book rather than a £15 ‘graffiti magazine’.

Now, where’s Skore’s book got to?

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