The following is a chat with Karen M of Anthony C & Karen M Art, whose outsider street art is often chock full of social commentary.
BS: Hey Karen, thanks for doing this. While I’m a fan of your work, I know very little about you two, other than that you’re a team of street artists in Philly. Tell me a bit about yourselves and your scene.
KM: Anthony C and I met in the hood. Philadelphia is made up of tight knit communities. We have been working together 27 years. We live in a very dangerous part of Philadelphia ( N. Philly ). There are shootings all the time, prostitution, gangs, drugs etc.
Even though we are not a part of a graffiti crew, the graff writers respect our work on the street and in the warehouse. We do a lot to promote the graffiti writers via Instagram.
Street artists and graffiti writers are not the same: there are ‘rules’ graff crews follow, and they are tougher than hipster street artists that just feel they can do whatever they want.
I learned graffiti in 1978 in Atlantic City from a Philadelphia graffiti writer. This was before the casinos; AC was all slum.
Anthony and I worked together before Philadelphia went thru re-gentrification. The streets were our playground and we were associated with a graffiti gallery called Rarebreed. Many good writers went thru there.
Now there are too many people doing what we started, so it is always a challenge to keep coming up with new ideas. We see alot of our ideas done by others, but we have a ten car garage warehouse that they don’t have, and we never tell where it is exactly because of what may pop off due to jealousy.
We were never locked up for graffiti but we have had several close calls.