FREIGHT TRAIN GRAFFITI is Now Bigger & Bolder
BEYOND THE STREETS Publishing is pleased to announce the re-release of FREIGHT TRAIN GRAFFITI, in a new expanded version of the acclaimed 2006 book by Roger Gastman, Darin Rowland and Ian Sattler. Featuring 500+ additional images, larger trim size and updated hardcover, it serves as a bigger and bolder 2nd edition to the original book – heralded as the definitive history of freight train graffiti.
"After several years of thinking about how we should reprint this book—it finally happened. We worked with old CDs of images, Quark files that would not open, and other technical issues of computers past to rebuild FREIGHT TRAIN GRAFFITI the way we always imagined it could be while staying true to the original era covered and including another 500-plus images,” shares Roger Gastman.
The book is packed with 1,500+ full-color illustrations and features in-depth interviews with more than 125 train artists and "writers." Hundreds of never-before-seen photographs span the style's evolution, while the authoritative text from an all-star team of authors provides unprecedented perspective, including a written history of "monikers” and the precursors of graffiti, developed by hobos and rail workers to communicate en route. The book serves as a tome of inspiration for artists, graphic designers, urban culture buffs, and anyone who has ever been interested in graffiti.
Original 2006 Release (Left) vs. Expanded 2023 Edition (Right)
A Subculture Born of a Subculture
Freight train graffiti is a subculture born of a subculture, long seen as a niche interest. It’s difficult to define a subculture at its height, maybe impossible. What is clear is that freight train graffiti culture is alive and thriving today. Any stop at a grade crossing rewards a viewer with trains chugging through as moving art galleries. What started as an emulation of New York City subway artists has grown into a self-sustaining movement. New generations and developments have pushed freight graffiti along a similar path of graffiti in general.
While freight writers were once considered a fringe sect of graffiti, now they’re accepted among their own and freights are noted as an important aspect of culture. Freight cars are painted regularly now throughout the world. Anywhere with a railroad system spawns graffiti writers, with growing numbers of them identifying as specifically “train writers” and “freight writers.” Most of the original freight pioneers have stopped writing, simply moving on to the next chapters of their respective lives. Naturally newer generations have come along. As the numbers multiply, and America’s general interest in trains holds steady, modern freight writers enjoy a growing audience while also facing a growing competition for space on freights.
But remember, this is an art form that is fleeting. While graffiti on freight trains remains plentiful, benching a car painted by one of the great pioneers is rare. Most of the pieces that survived the buff, being stamped, or dissed, have simply been pulled from service. New equipment regularly replaces the old to accommodate the needs of the railroad. And unfortunately the graffiti goes with it. Surviving technology’s forward march and ever-uncertain economic conditions, freight railroads continue to play a vital role in the world’s supply chain.
In these contemporary conditions, competition for space and the quality of cars have forced writers to paint over each other. Seeing a completely clean train is rare. The sheer amount of graffiti might be overwhelming for some. But it’s a testament to the power of the movement and the link between graffiti writers and trains.
- Roger Gastman, Darin Rowland, & Ian Sattler
FREIGHT TRAIN GRAFFITI (2023) is now available to pre-order in our online shop and for a deeper plunge into the world of freight train graffiti, check out ROLLING LIKE THUNDER, the 2021 Showtime documentary directed by BEYOND THE STREETS founder Roger Gastman.