Upperplayground News

PHASE 2: FATHER OF STYLE

by Ariadna Zierold

phase 2, father of style, lonny wood, bubble letters, graffiti, upper playground

Also called Lonny Wood, has been described as the “Father of Style”, is considered by many one of the Graffiti artists from the 70’s that are respected old school writers in the Bronx, New York. He is said to be the first to create the “bubble letters” style of aerosol writing, also known as “softies”. Starting from the basic design of the work of Super Kool, wrote his name in huge, hollow, but well formed, colored and shaped, which he named “bubble letters”.

phase 2, father of style, lonny wood, bubble letters, graffiti, upper playground

Phase 2 is from The Bronx, and attended DeWitt Clinton High School along with a number of other early aerosol artists. Many famous writers of the early 1970s would meet at a doughnut shop across from the school called the Coffee Shop before heading down to the subway station at 149th Street and Grand Concourse to watch tagged trains on the IRT line pass by. Phase 2 was mentored as a writer by Lee 163d!, one of the pioneers of writing in The Bronx.

phase 2, father of style, lonny wood, bubble letters, graffiti, upper playground

Part of the appeal of aerosol writing for Phase 2 was that it allowed him to get his “name” known yet remain anonymous. He noted later that tagging provided disadvantaged urban teens “the only significant vehicle to represent their ‘existence.'”

phase 2, father of style, lonny wood, bubble letters, graffiti, upper playground

Over time Phase’s work become more and more complex, moving far away from the simple tags of the early 70s to hieroglyphically calligraphic abstraction. Chang points out that much of Phase’s work involved “deconstructing the letter”, transforming characters in the alphabet “into hard lines, third eyes, horns, drills, spikes, Egyptian pharaohs and dogs, pure geometrics. Another New York graffiti artist, Vulcan, remarked that “one of the things about Phase is that he was the only person at the time whose name could roll by ten times and each piece was different.

phase 2, father of style, lonny wood, bubble letters, graffiti, upper playground

In 1974 Phase 2 joined the newly created United Graffiti Artists, a professional graffiti collective which began to attract media attention. He was featured in an important essay on graffiti art by Richard Goldstein which appeared in New York magazine and inspired a new generation of graffiti artists. In 1986, Phase 2 became the art director of International Graffiti Times, the first zone about graffiti writing.