Best Graffiti Writer - 2011
Many in San Francisco are rightly proud of the city's history as a hub for inspired graffiti artists — or graffiti "writers," as the virtuoso vandals prefer to call themselves. In recent years, the culture of guerrilla art has been taking a beating, as San Francisco has waged a costly zero-tolerance campaign against illicit street scribbling. (As of 2009, the city was spending $3.7 million per year on graffiti reduction programs.) Yet Girafa — identified by law-enforcement authorities as San Francisco resident Steven Free — is a fascinating extant specimen of the outlaw graffiti writer. Girafa is known, appropriately enough, for his brightly colored, bemused-looking giraffes, which have adorned countless pieces of public property in the Bay Area. Free recently pleaded guilty to vandalism charges in San Jose, but San Francisco lawmen haven't yet succeeded in erasing his familiar animal depictions from our streets.