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Street Art Wed Sep 28 2011

Meeting of Styles (MOS) 2011

By Nicolette Caldwell

SIFC-GB-Featured.jpgMeeting of Styles (MOS) is an annual meet-up of graffiti writers and aficionados. Artists are invited and assigned to an area on stretches of wall space. Public focus is emphasized at the main wall called the "Wall of Style" located at 30th and Kedzie Avenue. The remaining permissioned wall locations are segmented in general proximity to the Wall of Style. To get a good perspective about the event and it's general history, graff writer and organizer of Meeting of Styles (MOS) Đmn ÔloǤy chatted it up with me regarding his experience and involvement with the event and graffiti writing culture. In addition to speaking with the organizer, two former participants provided a better understanding about their experiences with participating in past MOS events.


Nicolette Caldwell: How many times have you participated in MOS?

Đmn ÔloǤy: Well, since I am one of the organizers, I have been involved since the inception of Chi MOS, starting in 2003, 7 times... but I have also participated in several MOS outside of Chicago, in Germany, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area.

How long have you been part of the Chicago graffiti writing community?

I've been around the scene since the mid 80′s, but really starting coming into my own around '92, as far as doing pieces and getting my name known.

How would you describe your style of writing/art?

My style is really my own, not that I didn't have influences, but when I started piecing, I had a hard time doing the traditional wild style pieces based on thick letters and arrows, bits and such. So, I created what some people dub as the "folding paper style" but I like to call it the "wild onion style" because Chicago is the wild onion and my pieces kind of look like unfolding onion bulbs.

Why do you think Meeting of Styles is important and significant to Chicago?

The MOS is important to Chicago because there is nothing else like if for the community, as being an event for graff writers, organized by writers with no major corporate sponsorship, other than the red bull we get to give out, or the spray-paint sponsorship, all the money is out of pocket. Also, for young writers, it's an event they can meet the old school heads and more prolific writers, and gain positive influence from people within their own community instead of learning how to write from magazines or Internet sites, as well as an event for the more seasoned veterans to come together once a year and do really dope productions. Not to mention, see some great MC's and DJ's rock out at our after parties, gallery shows and meet and greets.

What makes MOS different than other collaborative art events in the community?

Well, for one it's the only Graffiti oriented event in Chicago (there are some in the suburbs). It is also one of the only events where hundreds of artists come together in a more collaborative way, as far as doing murals together, most other collaborative art events are usually just individuals showcasing their own artwork with other artists, and it's an underground event that does not deter outsiders (of the graffiti community) to be patrons. Oh, did I mention that most of all our MOS events have been free!


What kind of experience do you think people attending MOS have?

I think you have many different experiences, with young kids being exposed to graff art they've only seen already done, or in magazines. You have people that have never seen graff art ever, and for them it's eye opening, exposing them to a world they didn't know existed. Then you have the people that participate every year, and for them it's like an annual tradition and something they look forward to all year.

What have some of your experiences been like?

Luckily there hasn't been too many negatives, a couple fights and a huge monsoon one year that pretty much wiped out the painting portion (almost literally). Maybe the biggest negative, is every year it gets harder and harder to get basic sponsorship, as far as paint and supplies. Most everything we do is from our own budget. The positives are just every year that we keep doing it, it seems to get better, although I think last year (2009) was a little better than 2010, but I think that had a lot to do with weather, last year was perfect, this year it was a little chilly and rainy. My favorite is a tie between last year, which just went great, and the first year. In the first year, we did it on a series of walls under the viaducts along 59th St. from Ashland avenue to Damen avenue. Red Bull came through with a crazy ATV vehicle that had pop up speakers and a DJ-ready platform. I think just the fact it was our first year and the turnout was great, at that time there hadn't been anything big like that since the early 90′s with the exception of a huge wall we painted the year before with many of the MOS participants, organized by my crew (SB) and DJ 3rd Rail but that wasn't as public as MOS.

Why should people know about MOS?

I think people should know about the MOS, because it is a great place to see the positive effects of graffiti, to see how we (writers) work together, the skill we display, the positive influence on street youth, showing them another option to utilize their creativity, and how you can have immediate impact on your hood, by doing dope productions and making impoverished neighborhoods brighter and more colorful. We also throw great parties!

What are your experiences with participating overall?

Well, mine are probably different than most, because I am involved organizing throughout the years. I kind of don't get to enjoy it the same way someone who is just a participant would. For me at times it becomes like work, but it's work that I love and feel is necessary for the community as a whole.


What makes Chicago's MOS different from LA, New York and the rest of the world?

For one, Chicago is the only MOS in the States that does gallery shows, after parties and has performers/djs at the walls. They did it one year in LA, but most of the years in other cities it's never done, except for the European ones, most of them do it as well. We also usually have way more participants than the other US cities. One thing that makes us different from the original (the one in Germany, where it started), is kind of a negative, but not that bad. In Germany they have writers from different countries who have never painted together work on walls collaboratively (thus the term "meeting of styles"), where as we mostly have crews paint together, with the exception of the main wall on Kedzie & 30th, where we put the outta-towners with our crew (SB), but that is mostly because we don't get as many participants from outside the area.

Explain the beginnings of MOS, how it started, where and why? How did you get involved and why?

Ok, well the MOS first started in Wiesbaden, Germany around 1998, but it wasn't called MOS until 2000. It was started to memorialize an area of abandoned factories that was a huge graffiti area called the Schlactoff, or Wall Street. The city council there decided to tear down the area, and all that was left was a series of small walls and a couple buildings. So the main MOS organizers did the first one called the "wall street meeting", and after that success decided to do it in other cities as well. My partner in crime "Zore" went out to Europe in 2001 or 02, and painted in Germany. He met the main organizer, a writer named "Yours" and told him Chicago would make a great US location. When he came back and told me the idea, I was in! The next year, 2003, was the first one in Chicago and the second in the US. They did it in NYC the year before. The reason I got involved was I thought it was a great idea, a good way for the Chi graff community to get some international recognition and I was needed for my promotional expertise.

Meeting of Styles Former Participant #1:

What do you think about the annual event, Meeting of Styles?

MOS is a super cool thing to me - a real positive event. I think people are focusing on what they are painting as much as they enjoy just coming out and seeing their friends. For me, that's the best thing about it. Not that I do much anymore, but as a practitioner of graffiti, I enjoy doing the illegal stuff more - tags, throw ups & such. If I'm going to be at a legal wall painting I tend to want to paint outside of the conventions of what most people think of as graffiti art. But I love the graffiti culture, all the personalities, and that it crosses so many racial and economic barriers. Sure, there's still a lot of knucklehead shit that happens in the graff world, but it's offered so [that] many people who might have gotten into much worse things [get] a better option and it's really cool to see how far it's progressed. There's a ton of great talent out there.

Meeting of Styles Former Participant #2:

How many times have you participated in MOS?

I have painted twice, one time in 2009 and this last year 2010.

How long have you been part of the Chicago graffiti writing community?

I've been writing every year since 1991

What are your experiences as a previous participant in MOS?

It is a fairly insular event not really drawing the attention nor support from the whole city. I don't know how the response is in NY or Cali, or worldwide for that matter, but it feels like barely anyone knows about MOS outside of the graff community.

What makes Chicago's MOS different from LA, New York and the rest of the world?

The city isn't about trying to nurture anything graffiti related.

Why should people know about MOS?

He's a really great rapper =)

For more information about the annual Meeting of Styles go to

This article, by Nicolette Caldwell, was originally published at Sixty Inches From Center on September 19, 2011. It is featured here as part of our new content exchange program with Sixty Inches From Center.

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