Krylons and Doc Martens: the world of skinhead graffiti writers

The idea of card-carrying members from the skinhead tribe being part and parcel of street graffiti culture can seem an urban myth to some or a far-fetched, unlikely crossover of subcultures at best. Having grown up in the NYHC scene, I saw this synthesis first-hand and have followed the trajectory of others in the US and the world at large that inhabit both scenes, seamlessly bending disparate influences into a cohesive whole. Graffiti’s ethos and the skinhead way of life can seem to be an unlikely pairing at first glance, but the shared mindset of following a particular set of values and methodology, while maintaining a distinct visual aesthetic indifferent to mainstream trends, can lead to cross-pollination in an under-the-radar fashion.

I have chosen to profile seven skinhead writers that fit this particular phenomenon. Some play in bands, some don’t. Others share the embryonic hip-hop scene as a reference point and some do not; what they all do have in common is finding a kinship in what are often maligned and misunderstood subcultures, making a strong case for inhabiting both worlds, all the while staying true to each group’s individual essence. I talked to the following: Core 2, Tatu Paul, Hand Selecta, Oaks FCS, all from the US, Meatdog and Swarm from Australia and The Firm from Brazil.

Freddy Alva

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Hostile but principled: Dalila of Italian Oi band Ostile

Attending Oi and punk gigs in Italy, it’s impossible not to encounter skinhead girl Dalila as she seems to be at all of them. A native of the Varese province in Lombardy, north Italy, she is also fronting her own band Ostile, who have been active since 2017 and have released the album Cresciuti In Fretta on the Milan label Rockout Fascism, known for releases by bands such as Zeman, Feccia Rossa and Les Trois Huit. Valentina Infrangibile spoke to her.

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Pride and prejudice: Alexandra Czmil’s photos of skinheads and working-class memories

Few subcultures are more visual than skinheads, and if we have any way of knowing the history of the skinhead cult in its entirety, it’s also thanks to those who have documented certain important periods in photographs. These photographs are testimony to the way things were – the faces, the places, the atmosphere, the style, the joys and tensions. Where would be, for example, without photographers such as Derek Ridgers and Nick Knight, who made skinheads their main subject – or Gavin Watson, who photographed what he also lived? Fortunately, they left that trace for us. And equally luckily, there are those who do the same thing today: leaving traces for the future, for the next generation of skinheads. Francesca Chiari spoke to Alexandra Czmil, a photographer based in the French city of Nantes.

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