The History Of American Graffiti

Our friend Caleb Neelon (all the artwork currently at the shop is by Caleb and and he also had a solo show at the gallery in May 2010 ) just completed a massive book. Mazel Tov!


By Roger Gastman & Caleb Neelon

Foreword by TAKI 183
Book Release Date: April 5, 2011

“‘Wild Style’ graffiti may be the most influential art movement since pop art. Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon have written the definitive history of the origins and the heritage of the graffiti styles that emerged in Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles in the early 1970s and inspired young artists around the world.”
— Jeffrey Deitch, director, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art

“Graffiti is a much-maligned and misunderstood social movement, which I am proud to be a part of. This book offers the definitive perspective on graffiti – finally, we have a historical textbook for the most colorful art form modern society has known.”
— David Arquette, actor

THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN GRAFFITI (Harper Design; April 2011) is the definitive story behind the most explosive and influential art form of the last one hundred years. Unprecedented in scope, the book traces the evolution of the movement from its early freight train days to its big-city boom on the streets of New York City and Philadelphia to its modern-day influences.

Featuring interviews with more than five hundred key artists and exclusive behind-the-scenes stories gleaned from over four-years’ worth of interviews, THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN GRAFFITI unveils the entire scope of American graffiti history, from forgotten street legends to the present-day stars: from TAKI 183 to IZ THE WIZ to SANE AND SMITH; from Barry “TWIST” McGee to REVOK; and historical figures, including for the first time, the story behind the WWII legend KILROY WAS HERE. Authors Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon provide an insider’s perspective on the most popular trends and styles that have dominated the scene for the last fifty years, revealing the story behind the culture that spawned today’s street artists.

THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN GRAFFITI is packed with over one thousand photographs—the majority of which have never before been seen—from more than two hundred photographers, most of whom also created the artwork. The authors have spent the better part of the last four years interviewing key figures in the graffiti world throughout America—from the bedrock cities of New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles to more than twenty metropolitan hotspots, including Chicago, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, San Diego, and Seattle. Approximately 90 percent of the art in this book has never been published, and was sourced directly from the artists who lived the scene, giving the book a raw street vibe as authentic as the history it documents.

The foreword is by legendary graffiti artist, TAKI 183. Considered one of the founding fathers of the graffiti arts movement, TAKI 183 has never before contributed writing to any book or media article on the subject. 2011 marks the fortieth anniversary of the 1971 New York Times article written on TAKI 183, “TAKI 183 Spawns Pen Pals,” that ignited the movement in New York City and cast TAKI 183 as the world’s first famous graffiti artist.

Despite many small niche titles catering to graffiti’s practitioners, there has never been a comprehensive and accessible book that details the full history—from the 1800s to the present day—of American graffiti. THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN GRAFFITI is unlike anything ever published before on the subject. It is the category game-changer and the ultimate word on the medium as told from the artists who created it.

Roger Gastman started writing graffiti as a teenager in Bethesda, Maryland, and was able to parlay his love for it into a legitimate career, becoming a trusted mediator between the underground art scenes and mainstream culture. A consulting producer on Banksy’s Oscar-nominated Exit Through the Gift Shop, Gastman is co-curating MoCA’s Art In the Streets exhibition in April 2011, alongside Jeffrey Deitch and Aaron Rose. He founded and published two respected pop-culture magazines—While You Were Sleeping and Swindle (co-publisher)—as well as more than a dozen highly sought-after art books. He is the founder and creative director of R. Rock Enterprises, a multi-platform media agency that specializes in print, art, design, marketing, and brand development, and has nurtured the careers of internationally recognized artists. Gastman is producing two independent documentary films, and speaks at universities and major museums across the country. Gastman currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Caleb Neelon is a writer, educator, and prolific graffiti artist who has painted the streets of over twenty countries on five continents. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. Neelon is the co-author of Street World, Graffiti Brasil, and Caleb Neelon’s Book of Awesome, and he has collaborated on nearly a dozen other books. In the past five years, Caleb’s writing has frequently appeared in Print, Juxtapoz, and Swindle, where he was editor-at-large. Caleb speaks regularly at universities, international conferences, and festivals. He lives in Cambridge, MA.


By Roger Gastman & Caleb Neelon
Harper Design
April 5, 2011
ISBN: 9780061698781/$40.00

Bodega x Nice Kicks: Reebok Night Sky Wikileaked

Had no idea we put info about this project out…..but Patrick from Dime mag just sent me heads up that it’s out and he approves. Thanks Patrick! And Damn You Julian Assange!!!!!!


Bodega’s collaborations, up to this point, have been nothing less than superb to say the least. Its latest work with Reebok, on the Night Sky, is another fantastic design in its long list of joint efforts. Bodega and Reebok chose to cater to the sneaker enthusiasts who go through extreme winters with this design. The athletic-based, outdoor boot is laced with suede and nylon panels colored in beige and blue. Other aspects, such as the padded collar, hiking laces and a gum sole, give this shoe a boot construction feel. Lastly, a Bodega tongue label provides a little color to the somewhat subtle design. Look for the Bodega x Reebok Night Sky to hit retailers in 2011.

Bodega Dan: Top 5 Boosted Images

Press: Bodega in ShoesUp Paris

Merci à nos amis de Shoesup Paris!!

Bodega: Cabin Fever

If ever lured to a mountain hideout by a one-armed ‘Nam vet, one should remember to travel in style, committing to a refugee-esque sense of living. Below are some simple ways to jazz up any apartment, cabin, home or even gift idea for this coming holiday and winter season.

Pendleton Canyonlands Blanket ($198), Olive Wood Coaster Set ($24), Vans x Pendleton by Taka Hayashi ($120) in-store at Bodega, Horned Bottle Opener ($28)

John Wayne The Ultimate Collection ($20), The Good Flock iWooly MacBook Case ($109) in-store at Bodega, Paul Smith x Burton Vapor Snowboard ($1,199), Pendleton Bovine Pillow ($275), Lincoln Logs ($40.99)

Wood Chuck Hard Cider ($8.50), Ball Jars ($3.00-$20.00), Dried Lavender ($12) Your Local Flower Shop, Mason Pearson-London England Hair Brush ($150), Bodega Zippo Lighter ($55), Shwood Sunglasses ($125) in-store at Bodega

xo Lady Stapleton

Bodega: Soundtrack to a Friday

From the dungeons and cavernous depths of the (in)famous Bodega basement.

Jesus and Mary ChainPsychocandy



The VerveA Storm in Heaven

RadioheadKid A

Flying LotusLos Angeles

Keep listening to the good shit.

Speak soon,
This Charming Man

Bodega – Lacoste Legends

On Sunday, December 12th Bodega will be releasing the highly anticipated Bodega x Lacoste Broadwick as part of the Lacoste Legends Project.  Limited to 150 pairs, there will be an exclusive offering of 50 pairs that are specially packaged with a Bodega tee.

The Lacoste Legends Power of 12 is an inspirational new footwear design project bringing together 12 renowned collaborators from the worlds of music, media, design, and retail to create an exclusive collection comprising of 12 unique shoes.

Sharing the Lacoste values of tenacity, authenticity, originality, and effortless style, the 12 contributors altogether become the Lacoste Legends.

The story of Legends begins with René Lacoste.  Reigning tennis champion of the 1920s and known as ‘The Crocodile’ for his on-court tenacity, René was a true legend of his time.  Famed for his sportsmanship, his spiritedness, elegance and enduring sense of style, René went on to found the eponymous Lacoste brand that has borne the much-beloved crocodile emblem for over 75 years.

As a prolific inventor off the tennis court, René created the ubiquitous L.12.12 Polo Shirt, utilizing state-of-the-art technology to craft it from breathable cotton known as petit piqué.  To this day, the Polo Shirt remains an icon of the brand, synonymous with quality and style.

Inspired by the legacy of René and the Lacoste tradition of innovation, the story lives on through the Legends footwear concept that unites 12 contemporary Legends to pay homage to the great man and the iconic L.12.12 Polo.

Fusing the collection together, each shoe features a tongue crafted from petit piqué cotton, incorporating a woven Lacoste-branded tab finished with a mother-of-pearl button, referencing the intricate detailing found on the L.12.12 Polo.  The 12 designs reflect the broadly diverse personalities and creative talents of each of the contributors, as well as confirming their legendary status as the foremost trendsetters and opinion-leaders from across the globe.
the LACOSTE website devoted to footwear collections.
The 12 designs go on sale with selected global distribution on 12.12 – the 12th December 2010.

Bodega A/W 10 Collection

Bodega’s full Autumn Winter 2010 Collection is available in the web shop. As with all Bodega products, each item is produced in limited quantities with choice materials and custom fits. Collaborative pieces with Vans, Palladium and Penfield round out the offerings with classic styles to fit town and country.

Boston Globe Feature

The Boston Globe Magazine did a feature on us today…..go pick it up and learn how to become part of the Biltberger’s & W-8.

The secret to selling cool
How three young guys with almost no retail experience created an uberhip sneaker boutique to rival those in New York, LA, and Tokyo.

By Kevin Alexander
November 21, 2010

The kid in the Hollister shirt is lost. Well, as lost as one can be in the age of GPS-enabled phones. The teen knows he’s supposed to be at 6 Clearway Street in Boston. And he knows that’s right where he’s standing. But 6 Clearway Street, with its signless exterior and dusty windows lined with sun-weathered convenience-store goods, apparently doesn’t look anything like what he’s expecting. After several minutes staring into the windows, he clearly needs a lifeline. He opts to phone a friend. “I’m right here,” he says pleadingly into the cell, “and I still have no idea where it is.” As the kid listens, his eyes grow wider. “Wait,” he says, peering again doubtfully through the window. “You’re telling me this is the place?”

The decrepit store in question is Bodega, and, to answer our young friend’s question, this is indeed the place, if by “place” he means the most influential, cultishly revered, and only sneaker boutique/convenience store in the world. Four and a half years after opening its doors – a passage involving a secret entrance that shoppers must know or figure out themselves, which divides the shoe store from the bodega novelty in front – it has quietly vaulted from upstart shop to international player.

Among sneaker boutiques across the globe, the Back Bay store is “definitely in the top bracket,” says Simon Wood, editor and founder of Sneaker Freaker, an Australian magazine for sneaker enthusiasts that’s sold in 43 countries. And this isn’t just an underground sentiment. “They’re absolutely one of the top, top brands and retail experiences anywhere,” says Matt Ting, senior product line manager for Reebok’s Heritage shoe division. “When people from Reebok Europe or Asia come to Boston, it’s the first place they want to go.” Nate Jobe, a design director at Nike (who worked with Bodega while at Converse), agrees. “Those guys are definitely players on a global scale. They can stack up creatively against anyone else in the world.”

“Those guys” are Jay Gordon, 38, Oliver Mak, 31, and Dan Natola, 34 – the unlikely triumvirate of first-time, Boston-bred owners who’ve somehow managed to do the impossible: create a store in the Hub, selling sneakers from $60 to $300, that’s managed not only to flourish in the wake of a retail-assassinating recession but also to reach lofty status in a fashion sector traditionally dominated by New York, LA, and Tokyo. “Back [when Bodega opened] no one in the sneaker world cared about Boston,” says Jobe. “They made people care.”

In 2006, when Bodega appeared on the scene, sneaker collection hysteria was just starting to seep into the mainstream consciousness. That year, the HBO series Entourage focused an entire episode around its character Turtle’s attempts to snag a pair of custom Nike Air Force 1s from a real LA boutique. At the same time, a wave of retrophilia started to crest. Clothing companies like Homage (which reproduces vintage-esque T’s celebrating sports and pop culture from the ’70s through the ’90s) came up with unique ways to commercialize the interest in yesteryear. Meanwhile, a night-life craze best described as faux speak-easy (think obscured entrances and passwords, minus the illegal hooch) started with the openings of bars like Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco and Milk N Honey in New York. Suddenly it seemed like older members of Generation Y wanted to drink in the places their great-grandparents frequented in the ’20s while wearing the gear their parents bought them in the ’80s. And shoes were no different.Continued…

Though Nike and others had been rereleasing old models for years, it took awhile before people outside of the graffiti, hip-hop, skateboard, and basketball worlds started to wear and collect these sneakers. Most of these shoes fell into one of three categories: actual models of sneakers from another era, carefully preserved (often wrapped in plastic like baseball cards); re-creations of old sneakers, cleverly released in small numbers and featuring distinctive details (Michael Jordan’s original Air Jordan 1s, released in Carolina blue, for example); or collaborations, called “collabs,” in which small boutiques or individual artists or designers teamed with shoe companies to create their own unique shoe. As the thirst for these shoes rose, the quest for “boutique” or “limited-edition” clothing also took off. “The little boutiques just blew up,” says Nike’s Jobe, of 2006. “And everyone, from Nike and Adidas on down, started to pay attention. It was a fantastic time to get noticed, if you knew what you were doing.” In other words, the table was set for a place like Bodega.

“Yeah, in theory,” says Natola, laughing. “Except we didn’t really know what we were doing.”

* * *

Bodega’s origin story is hazy and features slight jumps in logic, though essentially it goes like this: Jay Gordon and Oliver Mak worked together at an online clothing store and always joked about starting their own place, or at least a clothing line. The idea simmered until Mak, who knew Dan Natola through mutual friends, introduced him to Gordon. The three instantly hit it off. “We were all doing industry-related stuff in marketing or advertising, and we all seemed to have the same sense of humor,” Natola says. Each of them also brought a different skill set. “Jay’s great at networking and literally knows everyone in Boston, Oliver is extremely creative and still in touch with the scene and what’s relevant, and I’ve always been interested in the design side and heading up special projects.”

They began earnestly searching for a space in 2005, but the process was not altogether smooth. “This was the 21st location we looked at,” Gordon says, referring to 6 Clearway, off Mass. Ave., not far from Berklee College of Music. “Before us, the place was a paint-your-own-furniture store, so it wasn’t exactly a natural transition. But we wanted to be close to Newbury and close to public trans, since it was vital to us that not only people from BU and BC be able to get here, but also Dorchester and Roxbury.”

Attracting the entire spectrum of Boston’s ethnic makeup was important, Gordon says. “Growing up in Boston, it was a pretty segregated city,” he says. “Everyone had their neighborhood, and they kind of stuck to it, and that was just how it was. But we really tried to appeal to all sides. And now, seeing people coming in from Southie and from Roxbury and from Allston and really all over, we feel very lucky to pull from all these places.”

And not just in the city. “Tons of people come in from the North and South Shore and Worcester and Springfield. And for [new shoe] releases, we’ll get guys driving from Montreal and NYC.” He pauses. “We also have a weird number of fans in London and Tokyo.”

Before opening, the three owners agreed they would be nice to the customers. This may seem like common sense in retail, but in the world of hip sneakers, it’s actually rare. “I find them to be extremely humble,” says Ting. “And at this point, they don’t necessarily need to be. But when kids go in there and shop, they’re always super helpful and knowledgeable, whereas a lot of guys in NYC have this ‘cool guy’ attitude and no customer service.”

Being approachable and friendly are keys to their success, but much of the allure of a first trip to Bodega comes from the fact that the store is, in one sense, not really accessible at all. The secret entrance, which takes you from the functioning corner storefront (available for purchase: cans of soda, rice cookers, and pickled eggs) to the sneaker/gear side, has been a source of entertainment, mystery, and frustration for newcomers. “It infuriated my father that people would be looking for the store and I’d be out front on my phone and wouldn’t tell them where it is,” Gordon says. “But I knew that eventually they’d find it, and when they did, it would mean so much more for them to find it on their own.”

* * *

Gimmicky or not, Bodega grew strictly by word of mouth. “We spent zero dollars marketing, advertising, anything,” Gordon says. But in the counterintuitive, backward world of cool, a nonexistent campaign is actually the strongest. Influential underground blogs like Hypebeast wrote about it. The head of Nike New England came (originally to question where they’d gotten the rare Nike shoes they were carrying) and was so impressed that he ended up giving them a deal to carry limited-edition releases. Typically, it takes several years for a store to secure an account like that. Bodega did it in two months. By the end of its second year, Bodega had attained Tier Zero status – essentially the Valhalla of shoedom, a designation bestowed by Nike (only six other US stores have it) that provides exclusive access and first looks at the company’s rarest shoes.

Bodega caught another big break when, early on, the influential basketball magazine Dime ran a piece ranking the store as the third best sneaker boutique in the country. Immediately, Dime’s comment section was rife with claims of blasphemy about this random upstart in, of all places, Boston, but the store was now in the conversation. “That was enormous,” Gordon says. “After that, we started getting good product from Adidas and from Nike and moving up the ladder. It allowed us to bring in stuff that Boston hadn’t seen.”

Bringing in product was one thing, but creating it was another. Collabs with shoe companies are one of the most important components in building a successful and sustainable business. Essentially, it works like this: A boutique will have an idea for a shoe, or a shoe company will want to work with a particular boutique whose clientele it’s trying to attract. Designers from, say, Lacoste and Bodega will come together, agree on a concept (type of shoe, theme, packaging, marketing, etc.), and then both parties will submit specific ideas. That’s when the project manager from the shoe company comes in and explains budgets, limitations, and other realities. The designers adjust until an idea works both aesthetically and financially. Then the shoe goes into production and a release date is set – it’s hoped to huge buzz – after pictures of the prototype are tactfully leaked to sneaker blogs.

Bodega’s first collab was with Converse. The inspiration for the shoe was something that could be found in a real bodega: beef jerky. They meshed stylish lumberjack (red and black buffalo-check lining) with the idea of beef (roughly tumbled leather outer). And in what would become their signature move, the packaging was as cool as the shoes themselves – they came not in a box, but in a resealable beef jerky bag, with a lumberjack hat to match. Blogs went nuts. Upon release, the shoe sold out almost instantly.

From 2007 to 2008, Bodega collaborated on no fewer than seven projects, including a redesign of Reebok’s Pump Omni Lite (which Dee Brown famously inflated in his 1991 NBA dunk contest title), themed after the infamous Fung Wah Chinatown bus line (complete with an overnight bag filled with essentials for a one-day trip to New York); a Puma Sky high-top based on Mad magazine’s Spy vs. Spy comic strip, detailed with a bullet-riddled sock liner and hidden messages that, if decoded, gave you clues about how to acquire an even more limited-edition Grey Spy (only 20 pairs available worldwide); and an Adidas ZX running shoe, for which they were flown to Adidas headquarters in Germany, along with the company’s 21 other Consortium retailers (an elite group of innovators, akin to Nike’s Tier Zero), to design a shoe that would release with all the others worldwide. It was a nearly unbeatable period of productivity and acclaim. “If eBay is any kind of litmus test,” says Reebok’s Ting, “you can look at almost all of these collabs and they’re still fielding between $500 and $1,000 each. To have done all these projects, and to see them all still be viable and sought after, it’s almost unthinkable.”

Despite the success, the whole ride hasn’t been without hiccups. “For a long time,” says Natola, “we had no idea how much product to order, because we had no historical data. And we wouldn’t have even known what historical data was.” There was a scene in MTV’s junior-bridezilla show Sweet Sixteen that was filmed in the store and that no one wants to remember. And their Fourth Wall Project, an art gallery they created out of an old gas station on Brookline Avenue in the Fenway, was dormant for a long time until they turned it into one of the most vibrant spaces in the city. Nonetheless, in terms of profitability, each year has been better than the previous one. “We’re in very, very good shape,” Gordon says coyly.

There are no plans to replicate Bodegas across the country. They’re working on a design for a shoe for Saucony to release in Japan, without the Bodega label, a testament to how far they’ve come. “The collabs day has passed,” Jobe says. “It’s now really just about designing a product that can stand up by itself, without having to put your name on it. And they’re doing that.”

Twenty minutes or so after his tentative entrance, the kid in the Hollister shirt leaves 6 Clearway Street. He carries no bag, no proof of entrance, other than a face alight with the sort of smug confidence that comes from insider knowledge. Perhaps he’s envisioning his own phone conversation with a frazzled friend, a time in the future when he can coolly sit back and exclaim, “Wait, you’re telling me you don’t know how to get into Bodega?”

Kevin Alexander is a senior editor at and owns an embarrassing amount of sneakers. Send comments to

Prize Fighters

Thanks to everyone for the huge show of support on the Palladium release. We also wanted to thank our friends from all over the world who came out strong for this release. The 5 lucky winners of the ‘Gentleman’s pack’ have boots with the numbers below:


To claim your prize, please send a picture of the winning number on the inside of your boot, along with all of your contact info to: Or if you live in Boston, you can bring your winning boots in, and we can do this the old fashioned way.
Thank you


The “Gentleman’s Pack” — a kit of essentials from around the World

-British badger hair shaving brush and shaving soap from E Shave

- Steel razor from Merkur of Germany

-Japanese Straight Edge Nail Clipper from Seki

-Opinel pocket knife France

-Bodega herringbone five panel