Kilroy was here: the first viral graffiti art in history.

"Kilroy was here". And it all started from here.

By "here" we mean during the Second World War, precisely between 1944 and 1945. Back in the days, Graffiti appeared everywhere and was considered a good luck mascot for the Allies of the US, British and Australian forces.

Who is Kilroy?

The legend says that the big-nosed anthropomorphic character, also known as Mr Chad, was first drawn by cartoonist George Edward "Chat" Chatterton, during the 1940s, and was then engraved by American and British troops wherever there was a lack of supplies to leave the mark of their passage and play down the daily work. 

Even if Chatterton was the first to draw the character, he was not the one who trade-mark it. According to several theories, James J. Kilroy wrote for the first time: Kilroy was here. And this is how he became part of some of the most significant illustrations in history.

And why was it "here"?

Kilroy worked in a Massachusetts shipyard during World War II. 

He was a construction site supervisor and to make his work recognizable and outstanding to the bosses, he used to scribble with the yellow pencil “Kilroy was here” for each reviewed job.

From that moment on what is considered a global art movement called 'Graffiti' began to develop.


From Kilroy to Graffiti art

According to the latest definition, Graffiti art is part of visual communication and often prohibited by the law.

It consists of signing or drawing on public spaces like walls, facades of private buildings, trains etc.) by individuals without permission.

Unlike street art, Graffiti is an antisocial behavior performed to protest against the system and the law to represent an expressive art form.


Each phrase, signature and symbol designed by the Graffiti authors named "writers" came to define a real piece of art to generate different feelings. Some people hate them and consider them vandalism others love them and support them.


Graffiti takes over the world

In the seventies, Graffiti spread all over, but only in the eighties, urban art was able to develop its style and message, from simple scribbles to deep thought about society, law and provocations.

Over the years, names such as Keith Haring and Jean -Michel Basquiat emerged in the art world. The first one rose to fame with his figures drawn with chalk in the empty advertising spaces in the subway; the second one inspired by the city and its streets desired to write on any possible surface. Altogether with his friend Al Diaz, Jean Michelle Basquiat designed SAMO - same old shit - which stood for the marijuana that the two used to smoke.

Eventually, artists learned to run away fast from the police wanting to track them, leaving the Graffiti displayed for the viewers the morning after. 


The "street artists"

Ben Eine, a famous street artist, said: "Nowadays, the most famous street artist is Banksy", and in Palestine, the two writers collaborated on various projects to create some of Bansky's most significant works.


The urban artist called Risk in the documentary Saving Banksy sums up how valuable this exercise as it was born has for those who have taken up and take part in this movement: I am one of a kind. I got shot once, stabbed twice. Shot several times. All for the love of Graffiti.

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