In the vibrant streets of Santiago, Chile, graffiti adorns the cityscape, telling stories of its urban soul. From colorful murals to intricate tags, the graffiti scene reflects the diversity and passion of its artists. Amidst the bustling city life, these art-filled walls stand as a testament to the power of creative expression and serve as a platform for social commentary and cultural identity. Santiago’s graffiti culture transcends mere vandalism, transforming walls into canvases of inspiration and activism. With every stroke of spray paint, the streets come alive with a kaleidoscope of emotions and ideas, inviting passersby to engage with the art and immerse themselves in the pulse of this dynamic and ever-evolving city.
The TAG collection “Soul of the Street” is inspired by spray paint tags, which can be seen on various walls throughout Santiago, especially in the city center. Talking about spray paint is synonymous with graffiti, implicating discussions about the pressure in the spray can, the resistance of the nozzles, the colors’ strokes, and the capacity to express what people experience on the streets, telling their stories through the creation of spray paint and how it evolved from an insecticide can to a specific graffiti can. It represents the people living on the streets, the pressures they face from society, and their resilience. Adding colors to one’s life allows them to become whatever they desire. This collection was a collaboration with a clothing brand that helped with materials such as uncomfortable denim and cotton.
Graffiti and street art are potent forms of artistic expression deep-rooted in urban culture. From the early days of marking territorial boundaries to the contemporary movements advocating for social change, graffiti, and street art have evolved into influential and respected art forms. At its core, graffiti is the act of writing or drawing on public surfaces, typically using spray paint or markers. It emerged as an underground subculture in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily in New York City, where young artists, often from marginalized communities, sought a way to leave their mark on a city that had ignored their voices. Initially viewed as an act of rebellion and vandalism, graffiti challenged the norms of art and opened up discussions on public space, ownership, and freedom of expression.
Over the years, graffiti has transformed into a multifaceted art form, encompassing various styles, techniques, and messages. On the other hand, street art extends beyond traditional graffiti, incorporating a broader range of artistic interventions in public spaces. It encompasses murals, stencils, wheatpaste, installations, and other creative forms, often conveying powerful social, political, and cultural narratives.
One of the defining characteristics of graffiti and street art is its ephemeral nature. The impermanence of these artworks makes the streets an ever-changing gallery, creating a dynamic dialogue between artists, their art, and the public. Street art engages with its surroundings, responding to the urban environment, and reflecting the lived experiences of those who inhabit it.
Beyond artistic expression, graffiti and street art have also become platforms for activism and advocacy. Many artists use their work to raise awareness about social injustices, human rights issues, environmental concerns, and political messages. By occupying public spaces, they challenge conventional power structures and create a sense of community unity and belonging. However, the legitimacy of graffiti and street art remains controversial. While some cities have embraced it as a form of cultural expression and tourism attraction, others still view it as vandalism and a sign of urban decay.
This duality between art and vandalism continues to fuel the discourse surrounding the value and significance of these art forms. Street art has gained recognition and acceptance in mainstream art circles in recent years. Renowned street artists have transitioned from the streets to galleries and museums, bridging the gap between street culture and fine art. This shift has sparked debates about commercializing a once rebellious and countercultural movement.
This is where the inspiration for this collection begins. It conveys through its colors the shouts, urban movements, ecstasy, and expression in every sense. It seeks to find a language to express oneself, the pure voice of each human being, the mark we leave, and the importance of belonging. It aims to create a community where the common bond is the street. The language expressed through this collection is specifically the street and its metaphors. From waking up and heading directly to the street, life runs rapidly, and the expression inside feels like it’s about to explode, but staying silent is part of the routine. Looking around, the inertia of people going in another direction, but you have to deviate. You feel, but you don’t shout; you imagine, but you don’t manifest. Everything on the sidewalk seems imposing. The neurotransmitters prepare, sending a signal, and now you wake up, and you are you, looking around, observing how people walk, the lines on the murals, the skateboards, the languages, and realizing that a community is being formed, where each person leaves their mark in this world. “The street has always been the space where dissident voices, demands, and social movements emerge. Subcultures and countercultures that informally correct the course of history, sometimes slightly and sometimes radically,” says Pedro Lomboy, Chilean architect, and artist.
The collection also drew inspiration from other artists and various research styles. These included Chilean urban tribes and the street art seen in the city center, represented by people of all ages, from babies to the elderly, leaving their mark through art on the streets. They also represented Chilean rap, an integral part of the country’s history. Additionally, they based their work on skaters, who are also classified within this style, combining graffiti and rap. The collection also aims to showcase the artistic beauty of Santiago’s streets and break the perception of graffiti and murals as criminal acts. Instead, it seeks to portray street art as visually attractive, representing the language of expression of the street, including elements from hip-hop, skate, and graffiti cultures. It shows how this community is sentimental and conceptual, demanding to be heard. It makes the streets a place where voices, social movements, and countercultures emerge, shaping society and community.
This collection represents the base colors of black and white, symbolizing society’s positive and negative aspects throughout its history. It allows us to see the good and the wrong side of every war, social issue, and experience, whether as a street artist, a skater, a Chilean rapper, or a simple wanderer. The graffiti colors also represent the lived experiences and the justice that can be created. Additionally, the clothing’s silhouettes are constructed from comfortable and elastic materials to foster a sense of community and allow individuals to continue sharing and living life with their peers. It enables the expression of emotions lived through each person’s history, helping others with their own stories, struggles, and joys.