Oscar Davalos began tagging when he was 12 years old. He and his friends would sneak out at night armed with cans of spray paint, scrawling their names on walls throughout East Oakland. The attraction was twofold: It was illegal, and it was art. Growing up in Fruitvale, Davalos dealt with the hardships of a poor community and the rule of gangs in the neighborhood. For him and his friends, graffiti was a way to express themselves, to force an often uncaring environment to pay attention. Tagging was also one of the four elements of hip-hop culture that Davalos admired: DJing, MCing, beat-boxing, and graffiti writing. Leaving tags on the blank canvas of a building was a way to mark territory in a city where he often... More >>>
Oscar Davalos (upper right) and former and current taggers paint a mural through the project i do it 4 Oakland.