I was never much of a “throw-up” guy and I really didn’t do very many during my graffiti career in the NYC subways. I’m going to use the unfortunate term “throw-up” here for describing shortened or short names (often two-letters in my era) generally one color, sometimes thinly filled-in, and always applied quickly. Alternate terms like “fill-ins”, “quickies”, “throwies”, etc., were not terms I heard in my day so I’m not going to use those terms here (OK, maybe I will). I’m partial to Revolt’s hilarious parody of the term “throw up” when he wrote the word “vomit” on his “quickies” (his throw-up name was “ORB” and sometimes “RVLT”).
Those well-versed in NYC Graffiti History know the enormous influence of the graffiti writer “IN” on this aspect of subway painting. Although IN has his share of detractors, he is generally credited as the creator, or the most significant catalyst, of the form. Opinions on IN’s contributions—and subway throw-ups in general—run the gamut. Some writers from IN’s era feel that his endeavors served only one purpose: To help devolve mid-70’s subway graffiti. Other writers and graffiti aficionados accept throw-ups as a critical component of graffiti even if their feelings are mixed. And then there are those who just adore throw-ups, as fans or practitioners or both. As for me, I’m fairly agnostic on the subject. They are what they are. Looking at graffiti from a strategic perspective, throw-ups certainly serve a variety of useful purposes. Obviously some throw-ups have more style than others, although that’s a subjective matter. Personally, my favorite subway throw-up of all time is “DY 167” (the alias of JESTER) although I liked the TI 149 throw-ups by MOVIN 2 a lot too. IZ THE WIZ was the all time master of throw-ups. In his writing career he managed to apply more spray paint to NYC subway cars than anyone in the history of this planet, something he did through his complete mastery of painting throw-ups, although he was not at all limited to that end of the graffiti spectrum. As for my own “graffiti career”, throw-ups were something I employed mostly on a necessity basis. There was a time around 1981 when a tool from the north Bronx decided his idea of fun was indiscriminately destroying all the pieces on the trains (including mine). To engage in the proper type of retaliation I used my throw up, JOI, to fight the good fight. Of course sometimes I did them just for the sake of doing them, but it was never a big part of my process—more of an afterthought. Anyway, here is what they looked like in case you missed them, which you probably did.