Amoeba: Covered in Graffiti!

Mad graff by Amoeba

Vibrant colors from all shades of the rainbow cover a majority of the walls on San Francisco’s Amoeba music store that rests on Haight Street. Every piece of art seems to come together as planned. Some pieces layer over others and make the shop nearly stick out like a sore thumb, only if there wasn’t a clinic across the street that happened to be smothered in graffiti writing as well.

I was struck with curiosity about the graffiti on the outside of the shop. Though I have been inside the store several times, lucklessly searching for Robin Thicke’s first album, Cherry Blue Skies, I wanted to know more about what is did for the store, along with the community.

Upon entering the shop I ran into a bag checker. On his forearms were several tattoos. He wore a snazzy beret-like hat titled atop his head, thin-framed glasses, and a faded black shirt with green print that read pop rocks. I later found that he goes by the name “Ric.”  I asked Ric about the work on the outside of the building.

He and another man, who chose to go by the name “Ralph” spoke about the artwork.

“The graffiti art deters other people from tagging our walls,” said Ralph, who mentioned the graffiti has been on the building for three years. Having murals, rather than tags, painted on their walls deters the law enforcement from cracking down on their business since business owners are required to paint over tags to avoid the risk of being fined. “People don’t want to keep buffing their building all of the time,” said the heavily tattooed Ralph.” So they get an artist to put a piece up. It makes it easier for everyone.”  Ralph and Ric both agreed that the Newsom administration’s attempt to clean up the city will only create a clean slate for graffiti artists to continue painting on. And just recently, the city’s Department of Public Works plans to clean up all graffiti covered trucks as well.


“This war against graffiti is a never ending cycle,” said Ric in between checking in customer’s bags. “People can keep taking it down, but to a graffiti artist it is a blank canvas.”

In Ric’s opinion, graffiti still has a negative stigma attached to it. He said that old school graffiti artists need to step up and teach younger graffiti writers the art of throwing up a piece. Fortunately, there is one San Francisco artist, Nate1, that teaches kids the art and history of graffiti in a monthly class held at the 1AM Gallery on Howard and Sixth Streets. He does this for a low rate and the students get something more than lessons on how to manipulate letters.

The graffiti outside of Amoeba Records and throughout San Francisco does more for the store owners, but it also creates an atmosphere where people from around the world can come and visit. The graffiti brings more life into the city and gives it a sense of culture and weirdness that San Francisco is well known for.

Graffiti by Amoeba


~ by Mr. Fem-Bot on March 16, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: