Graffiti artist pioneer Cost returns to his roots

Cost has been making street art for more than 20 years in New York City. Credit: Blaise Cepis, ANIMAL New York
Cost has been making street art for more than 20 years in New York
City. Credit: Blaise Cepis, ANIMAL New York

“Whatever direction the art world is going, I go the other way,” said graffiti legend Adam “Cost.” For years, he’s evaded the New York City Police Department and assailed the streets with his partner Revs. The Queens native is now watching a scene that he helped to create flourish, and trying to figure out where he fits in.

“I am very proud that Revs and I hold this position which no one else holds,” Cost says. “Nobody. Not the Keith Harings, the Andy Warhols, the Shepard Faireys or the Banksys. We’re the essence of NYC graffiti writers. We bridged the gap between street art and graffiti.”

New Yorkers of the early 1990s didn’t have to be versed in the graffiti subculture to recognize Cost and Revs. Their names were plastered on thousands of posters — “Cost of Living,” “God Saved Revs,” “Birth, Paint, Death… Cost,” “Taxi Driver Revs” — throughout the city. While their peers stuck to intricate lettering, Cost and Revs stayed legible and loud.

“It’s getting too polished,” Cost says of today’s street art landscape. He said that today’s street art is too colorful, “perfected” and overflowing with legal murals.

The street artist, who masks his face and real name, returned in 2010 after a 16-year absence and has been back on the city streets plastering his ubiquitous posters around the five boroughs with street artist and animal enthusiast ENX, his new partner.

The recent overnight whitewashing of 5Pointz, a mecca for aerosol artists in Long Island City, particularly offended him. The project is being turned into luxury high-rise residential development.

Cost took to Instagram, rallied his 43,000 followers, and plans to print out more than 600 of the comments for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. “I can be proactive for the art community whether it be legal or illegal,” he said.

As much as he rails against conformity, the mainstream has always had a lucrative interest in his work. At Doyle New York’s record-breaking street art auction in April, a Cost-covered newspaper box sold for $11,875. Last year, a Cost and Revs piece fetched $31,250 at a Bonhams auction. It’s no wonder thieves are peeling his posters off the walls with sponges and putty knives, and peddling the loot online.

Although he’s staying true to his outlaw roots, Cost is also preparing for the next phase of his career. “Shamefully, on some levels, I can now call myself a working studio artist.”

For more stories like this visit AnimalNewYork.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.