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Jim Prigoff Co-Author of Spraycan Art

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James Prigoff (born October 29, 1927) is an American photographer, author, and lecturer focusing on public murals, graffiti, and spraycan art.
He has traveled extensively throughout the world documenting these art forms, and his personal archive of 100,000 slides may well be the most comprehensive of any individual mural and graffiti documentarian.




n the early 1970s, Prigoff became interested in documenting public murals. He was intrigued by the community nature of the murals, their artistic merit, and their ability to address issues that were not normally found in newspapers, television, and other media. He travelled extensively amassing one of the largest documentations of this art form photographed by a single individual. Along the way, he could not help but notice the appearance of graffiti in New York City and Philadelphia. He began to document that as well.

Prigoff noted the emergence of subway graffiti appearing "above ground", and was interested to see how it had spread across the country, and eventually worldwide. He wrote to his friend Henry Chalfant and suggested that Henry join Prigoff in tracking the art form around the world. Together they produced Spraycan Art,[1] published in 1987. The book sold well over 250,000 copies and is now considered one of the seminal books in the study of modern-day graffiti. Many graffiti writers learned about the art form from reading Spraycan Art, and initially perfected their skills by studying styles found in the book.

In April 2012, the Estria Foundation honored Prigoff, along with Judy Baca and Kent Twitchell, with the award of "Urban Legend"[9] Estria was quoted as saying


"James is considered one of the major forces in giving dignity and credibility to an art form that once was considered to be vandalism".


Over the years Prigoff has exhibited his photographs in many cities and has lectured around the world on the topic of public murals, graffiti, and spraycan art. He has also donated thousands of his photographs to historic archives.








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