The King of Graffiti Blade created a classic graffiti piece for the 4th edition of Kings Spray, a festival curated by Street Art Today. The artwork is now on display at the NDSM Urban Arts Square in Amsterdam Noord, together with the other installations made during Kings Spray.
A fun fact about me is that, although I painted over 5.000 trains in New York when I was young -which is a big number and that’s how I earned the title of ‘King of Graffiti’- I have never went to jail for graffiti.
All the way from New York, the ‘King of Graffiti’ Blade (born Steven Ogburn, 1957) gifted Amsterdam with a classic graffiti piece. Blade has been mainly painting for exhibitions since 1984, which makes the outdoor piece he made for Kings Spray festival extra special.
Blade is one of the forefathers of the graffiti movement, which he definitely contributed to shape. He is credited with developing several classic graffiti styles, such as overlapping 3D letters and Blockbusters. His personal style, which mixes characters, lettering and abstract forms, has inspired generations of graffiti writers.
I’m looked upon as the ‘King of Graffiti’ but you don’t see me walking around with my nose high up in the sky. On the entire planet you now have hundreds of thousands of kids, from all nationalities and backgrounds, that are into graffiti writing. We should unite as one family, it could change the course of everything
Read the full interview Blade in conversation with Street Art Today’s Remko Koopman
“I enjoy being here at the festival, because it allows me to see the progress of graffiti over the last 50 years. I love the evolution of the movement, to see how it went from regular graffiti to muralist. There is a guy named Soy painting next to me, a great artist, he is dedicating a wall to me and my wife -he is making a big portrait. I’m doing a Blade bubble letter piece from 1975, so people can see the way lettering looked at that time”
Blade-inspired pieces at Kings Spray 2019
Blade’s piece is above a graffiti-style portrait of him and his wife painted by his long time friend and fellow graffiti writer Soy, which is titled “Blade and Portia kings for one day”. Soy has been tagging and painting graffiti since the 1980s, both in the Netherlands and in Switzerland, where he lives nowadays. He represents the Swiss graffiti crew R2f.
Next to Blade’s name there is yet another name writing piece by Blade’s friend and agent DOM1. This side of the installation was curated by Blade’s wife Portia Ogburn, who is also portrayed in the main piece.
“My biggest dream in my lifetime, even though I’m 62 now, is to see graffiti art accepted by the rest of the world. That would be my achievement: to see my art inside one of the museum on New York 5th Avenue. But since that’s not likely, seeing this museum opening in Amsterdam is clearly the second best thing”
Blade’s artwork is now visible on the newly formed NDSM Urban Arts Square in Amsterdam Noord.
Header photo by Marco Buddingh
Watch the aftermovie of Kings Spray Festival 2019
Many thanks to our partners and friends: IJ-hallen, Aruba Tourism, Stichting NDSM. Montana Cans, Groove Proof DJ Bus, Old Boys on Vinyl, Papa Tio and all volunteers.