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The streets of San Francisco’s Mission District are unmatched for their mixture of officially sanctioned and underground art. In turns political,… Read More
The streets of San Francisco’s Mission District are unmatched for their mixture of officially sanctioned and underground art. In turns political, didactic, celebratory, and grim, the work is always passionate. The design of this book begins politely but soon the pictures jam together, extending their edges to reveal a vital urban backbone. Read Less
Published:
Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo
Abrams, New York, 2009

Throughout this book — and throughout the Mission itself — there is a constant chatter between official, sanctioned murals and spontaneous guerrilla artwork. This real tension is evident in the book’s pages, and in the text itself which acknowledges the muralists’ multiple lineages. Some come from a cultural and political background, others have developed their work as art practice.

The original design for the book was polite, serviceable, and pretty. But the pressure grew to include more pictures and in the revised design something exciting began to happen. The spreads turned into crowded buses barreling through the city. The pictures stepped on each others’ toes and wrestled for prominence. To increase the tension I began extending the pictures to their full visual edges, revealing concrete and asphalt, parked cars, weeds, and electrical wires — urban detritus that grounds the art into its environment.

There is an unusual amount of text for a book that is primarily visual. I created a battery of typographic languages to help organize the writing into clear divisions. Yet within each style, the same push and pull is at work.