If there was ever a life skill you needed to master right now, it's how to tag a train.
If there was ever a life skill you needed to master right now, it's how to tag a train. And by god if this video and subsequent interview isn't going to teach you exactly how to do it.
In the video, a train on Berlin's U3 line comes to a screeching halt, giving five graffiti artists just enough time to tag the living shit out of it before it leaves for the next station. The timing and exacting precision of the act are impressive; a testament to how much forethought you have to put into a vandalism venture of this scale in order to get away with it.
The artist's work will only circulate for a brief 48 hour period before it's washed off and gone forever.
Nowadays, you don't see painted train cars all that often, especially in Colorado where there's no subway system, but train painting is the apex achievement of most street artists and has been for a while. Probably because the fines and jail time are higher than for building defacement and the precision, skill, and speed you have to apply in the face of police dogs and Tazers of the Law make it ballsier than most other kinds of street art. Plus, you could get cut in half by a moving train, so …
That video was posted to Facebook recently and watched hundreds of thousands of times in just a few hours, which proves how much people need to know how to do this shit.
A Vice reporter recently spoke to "Grisal" (not his real name), one of the writers in the video above, about how to graffiti-bomb a train, and he gaves some pretty good advice.
Here's some tips he gave for tagging trains.
1. Before you do anything, grow some balls. Big ones. Preferably hairy ones so people know how serious you are.
"Bombing trains is its own form of street art," Grisal said in the interview. "It's much more dangerous. It's not some council-commissioned wall; if you get caught or misjudge your timing, you're fucked.
First of all, you need balls for it; second, you need a high degree of skill and efficiency because you're working against the clock; thirdly, your piece is usually traveling through the city for 48 hours. It's a mobile gallery, and you own the city's visual space for that period of time. Of course I would love to see the panel on the train riding through the city forever, but it's the memory that keeps me happy. It's addictive."
2. Pull the emergency brake on the train to get it to stop if you can.
In the video, the guys at the Metro station in Berlin pull the emergency break to stop the train. "The driver always has to come out of his cabin and switch off the emergency break outside the train to keep the train running," Grisal said. "This usually takes up to three or four minutes. That gave us the time to paint."
3. Keep it simple. Do not try to be the Bob Ross of train graffiti.
Because you're likely be pressed for time, don't try to tag the Mona Lisa. "The style and sketch for the piece is done quite easily. You can't bomb a train with the craziest wild-style piece in that space of time, so you go with simple blocks and let the action speak," Grisal advises.
4. Scout the location and escape routes before you do anything.
"First we scouted the location," Grisal said. "Most important are the escape routes, where the cameras were, how many people were there at what time and where to hide in case it fluffs up. We studied the train plan and planned our escape route. Sometimes you have to cut holes in fences so you have somewhere to run. This time I had a key to the train station and all the gatekeeper halls, so we didn't bother."
5. Time it and give everyone you're with a specific job to do.
Grisal's expert advice is to give everyone a pre-determined place, function and duty.
"I know the cops arrived 30 seconds after the train bombing was done," he said. "You normally hide all the cans, gloves, masks, and, more important, take out the memory chips from the cameras and hide them somewhere. Then you come back a day later—if everything works out and you're not in a cell—and collect all your gear."
6. Know where all the cameras are.
This is one of the biggest parts of getting away with it. "Some will have cameras that only record in one direction; others will have 360-degree cameras," Grisal explained. "An outside metro station not in the tunnel is usually better because you've got more escape routes, not just the two regular exits. You always have to think, Where are the cops going to come in from? Where will they stop you?"
7. Know the punitive backlash for your train art fetish.
Is it really worth the risk to tag your name in middle-school Hot Topic font on the name of a shipping container car? Well, that depends on whether you think the glory and ego boner of that is worth the arrest proceedings.
"Well, you'd be taken under arrest," said Grisal about getting caught. "They take your address and finger prints, etc, check if you've done it before. Than you'll be charged with heavy criminal damage and fined $11,000 to $22,000 [in the UK, you can be fined up to $7,500 if the damage you have caused is under that amount; if it's more, the case will be referred to the Crown Court, which can give out harsher punishments].
It's rare it gets violent with cops—it's the train drivers and passengers who flare up."
Of course, that's the fine situation in Berlin where Grisal lives, but it's not much different stateside.
Then again, if you like the idea of having a much larger, tattooe roommate named Bubba that you have to give your lunch to if you don't want to get shanked, train tagging is for you.
So, there you have it folks and folkettes. Plan, train, execute, and get out of there. Now get out there and tag some dicks on some passenger cars!