A [recent] letter warned that gangs will establish themselves in Asheville once tagging has gained a foothold in the area [“When They Start Ganging Up on You,” March 29]. The writer explained that the artists do not work, but make money through selling drugs.
I’ve known a couple of taggers. One was a well-paid graphic designer. He never touched drugs or alcohol as long as I knew him, yet left a huge imprint on the buildings of several cities.
Another, a local tagger, was actually habitually unemployed. He was an avid dumpster diver and a vocal and passionate anti-war, anti-government and anti-corporate activist. He was an underage drinker, but in this regard he wasn’t any different from others who went on to respectable positions in society. My friend was part of the Asheville type of gang: the young demonstrators.
I’ve done some legal murals: the dinosaur with an Afro at the Asheville Pizza and Brew, and the pool player at Ophelia’s. That’s my way of tagging. My complaint against the art form is that painters don’t usually put enough effort into their pieces. Usually, tagging is scribble-and-run art. People might like graffiti more if it was better done. Better-looking tags might even keep gangs out of the city.
— Alex Sacui