TAKI 183 - The pioneer

PHOTO BY: ALLIE MARSIELLO

Graffiti writers around the world know the name: TAKI 183. His “government” name was Demetrius but “TAKI,” was his nickname that his family had called him since he was a kid.

Demetrius, was a bored teenager living in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan when he started to see names written around the neighborhood and north into Inwood. He liked the idea and thought “they can be known, I want to be known also. Demetrius simply added his street number after his knock-name and the legend of TAKI 183 was born by fall 1969. Quickly the name TAKI 183 became more noticeable through the entire city than any other graffiti writer at the time. While most writers stayed in their neighborhoods, TAKI 183 went “all city.” Most of his markings were with a marker – but plenty of spray paint tags made their wall to city walls.

TAKI’s simple signature captured the attention of a reporter and, in the summer of 1971, an article appeared in The New York Times. TAKI was the first New Yorker to become famous for writing graffiti. While he humbly will tell you he was not the first – he is the first graffiti “media darling.”

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