Tkid170 will share his story about growing up in the south Bronx in the 1970s and how he used graffiti art to escape that environment and be a leader in the Hip Hop Graffiti movement. He will also share how he has used graffiti art as a form of communication in workshops with inner-city youth, and as a way to appeal to demographics in advertisement. Come see his works and learn where graffiti has taken him around the world!
As a young boy, Julius started his career in 1973 as a street tagger for the neighborhood gang, Bronx Enchanters, as King13, later as Sen102 for the Renegades of Harlem. At that time, Tkid felt there were no opportunities for young boys like Julius aka Tkid170 to voice who he was and how to express himself. The Bronx was burning down; violence, drugs and despair seemed to be his only options. Julius was a fighter and break dancing on the streets an tagging the “Hood” was how he expressed himself. Watching the subway cars, Julius saw the color and beauty that graffiti writers like Phase2 and Tracy168 painted. The seed was planted by those early writers and Julius vowed to paint the outside of those subway cars and, turning rusty giants into beautiful rolling canvases. With mentorship from graffiti writer, Padre Dos, Tkid learned that his letters must flow like the music that blasted out of those boom boxes. Padre taught Julius to incorporate what he liked into his piece and make it his own. He said, “Make your letters go from fat to skinny. Use fat caps and cut back to make your pieces jump out!”
Getting shot in 1977, behind gang violence, Julius became Tkid170 in the hospital bed he was handcuffed to. Angry at society, he became king of many subway lines in the notorious New York City transit system, developing his unique style of graffiti letters and adding his characters to the trains he painted. Competing with graffiti giants like Dondi, Seen and Sonic 007, Tkid170 took graffiti to a whole new level.
Tkid knew that there was something better than vandalizing trains. But no outlet for young Latino men existed at the time, there was no place he could paint legally, and no one cared. Hip Hop was not a culture yet, but the elements were there. Kool Herc brought the house jams to the streets. Flash was taking scratching and mixing to a level no one at that time ever heard! Lee Jackets and bell bottom jeans decorated with graffiti, Adidas sweat suits, Cazal and Kangol hats were the fashion of the streets. Clubs like Fever and T Connection were oases in the Bronx where Tkid would get inspiration. In the early 1980s at a club called The Roxy, Tkid met Bando, one of the first writers in the Paris underground. Since the early 1980s, Tkid has been exchanging ideas and techniques with Parisian graffiti artists. Tkid collaborated with such great French writers like Mist, Kongo, Tilt, Brok, Alex one, Wuze and many more.
Tkid170 was part of Fashion Moda’s exhibition (Bronx) in 1980 where the Sidney Janis Gallery asked him to be part of their worldwide graffiti exhibition. He was in the PS-1 show in 19 where photos of his subway trains were exhibited with such greats as Somo aka Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kieth Haring and Lee Quinones. He was part of the Common Ground display that introduced the Rock Steady Crew to the world and shortly thereafter, the movement was given the title “Hip Hop” after Henry Chalfant was asked what do we call this movement. Tkid’s Subway Graffiti was in the Ok Harris graffiti picture exhibition in 19. In the first interactive video game, Tkid170’s image was used as a character in Mark Ecko’s video game “Getting Up Contents Under Pressure.”
Moving forward, Tkid’s book The Nasty Terrible T-kid170 tells the story of what he experienced growing up in the Bronx. His recent movie documentary “The Nasty Terrible T-kid 170 AKA Julius Cavero” shows you his journey into becoming a legitimate artist. Today, Tkid travels the world exhibiting his graffiti art and giving lectures on positive expression through graffiti art, one of the elements of this movement called Hip Hop.