Around the same time Meyhem Lauren was forming the Smart Crew in New York, Ralph Roelse was getting up in The Netherlands and photographing it all. After a few years, Roelse had an experience that led to him doing more than just documenting the work:
“I shot a photo of my graffiti piece but later while developing the film I saw one of my friends appearing in the picture. His presence gave this image power as a single picture which told a story about our adventure. From this moment on, I wanted to photograph graffiti writers instead of painting pieces myself so I started to used the photo camera as a replacement of the spray can.”
For last month’s Step Into The Arena festival, Roelse created a photo project using wooden masks painted by exhibitors and used them to shoot portraits of the artists. The concept works brilliantly, incorporating the artists into their work while playing on the roots of the art’s anonymity. But I don’t need to tell you Jack – you can see it all for yourself in the gallery above, featuring Sofles, Satone, Kaos Vimoas, Graphic Surgery, Niels Bakkerus, Chas, Nawer, Clone, Ekta and 108.