Real Name: Andrew Zephyr Witten
D.O.B.: Yorkville, Manhattan, NY
Zephyr is a graffiti artist, lecturer and author from New York City. He has been identified as a graffiti "elder", who along with Futura 2000, Blade, Phase 2, Lady Pink and TAKI 183 invented styles and standards "that continue to be used and expanded upon today".
He began creating graffiti in 1975 and first signed with names like “Frodo”, “Trek” and “Kane”. It wasn't until a few yeas later after watching Dogtown & Z-Boys skateboarding docu-film. In '77 he took on the name "Zephyr" from a west coast skateboarding legend, Tony Alva who was a part of the Zephyr skate team. At this time he formed the crew, Rolling Thunder Writers, (RTW) with Bil-Rock and Rasta and Revolt. Witten had started writing tags and bubble-letters on paper with a neighbourhood friend, Ian who wrote "Dice Three". This was in 1973-75 during a period where Witten felt he was a lone tagger and didn't even know where the train yards were.
Much of Zephyr's original work was applied on subway trains. Mr. Witten has commented on this period of his work:
"The trains were our creative outlet, our showcase and our lifeblood. Our relationship with those subway cars was visceral and profound, and so the eradication was emotionally devastating, and for many of us the heartbreak lingers."
Witten was part of the first wave of graffiti artists to make the transition to galleries, collectors and commercial work. In the early 80s, he showed at NYC galleries specialized in graffiti, such as the FUN Gallery and 51X. His art was part of a five-man show including Fab Five Freddy, Dominique Philbert, Futura 2000 and Dondi White that toured Japan in 1983. In 2005, he was included in the East Village USA show held at The New Museum. His works can be seen in the Hip-hop culture documentary Style Wars and he was featured as himself in the landmark hip-hop motion picture Wild Style. He is co-author of a 2001 biography of fellow graffiti artist, Dondi White: Dondi White Style Master General: The Life of Graffiti Artist Dondi White. He is interviewed in the 2005 DIY graffiti video The Art of Storytelling, where he talks about fallen graffiti artist Nace.
Witten's influence on New York City's self-image is exemplified in Suzanne Vega's 2007 song "Zephyr and I," which uses a conversation between Vega and Witten as a framing device to create what Vega describes as "sort of a little snapshot of what West End Avenue used to be like in the 70s."
- 2001 Witten, Andrew; White, Michael. Dondi White Style Master General: The Life of Graffiti Artist Dondi White.
- 2004 Cooper, Martha; Walta, Akim; Zephyr; Ahearn, Charlie; Fabel; Astor, Patti. Hip Hop Files: Photographs 1979–1984. From Here to Fame.
- Zephyr; Miller, Ken; Sutherland, Peter. Pedal. Powerhouse Books: 2006.
- Powell, Ricky. Zephyr (illustrator). Oh Snap 2.13.61 Publications: 1996.
Official Website: zephyrgraffiti.com
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