As a former graffiti writer, Frank Malt “Steam 156” was had unprecedented access to many of the most significant and interesting talents in graffiti writing and has spent many years photographing them, the places that they work and their lifestyle. This, accompanied by the fact that Frank has been tireless in his documentation of graffiti, has resulted in an impressive archive of photographs.
(Frank Malt and Dondi RIP in nyc 1988)
When did you start taking photos of graffiti?
I started taking photos around 83/84 where I was living in Brighton it was new and exciting it had kind of just arrived here from NYC everyone was also into Break dancing it was good times, In my opinion some of the best years there was so much energy.
(Up in the Bronx maybe around 1989)
What does graffiti mean to you?
Graffiti has been my life my best friend and at the same time my worst friend, It has gave me friends and it has gave me enemies, It has made me someone and has gave me a purpose in life, My girlfriends and wives come and go but graffiti always stays with me,I am married to graffiti it is part of my everyday life I seek it out if I am sitting on a train going to work my eyes will be peeled looking out of the window for graffiti, What ever part of the world I am in I seek it out.
Where and when did you start traveling the world for taking photos of graffiti?
I guess my first trips were my early trips to Paris I was in love with the work of the Chrome Angelz and headed to Paris to find their work this was maybe 86/87, From Paris other early trips was to New York around 88 and then also around 1990 I was making trips to LA and San Francisco. I made most of my trips to New York and Paris in the early years I loved both of these places and met many cool people and got some great photos. I remember on one of my trips to NYC I hooked up with a guy that had a car we spent two days driving around every street in the Bronx I got so many photos. Good times.
(Zagreb croatia -12 – 2013)
What is the best place that you visited and what was the best event in this whole journey?
That is a difficult question I love many places for many reasons I guess New York because of how much graffiti there is there and all the amazing writers I met there from the mid 80s I made so many trips to that place, Rome because of the amazing subway system and all the painted subway trains, Copenhagen because of how many great artists there and the size of some of the halls of fame. Paris just because it has a great graffiti and street art scene I love Space Invaders work. Detroit it is just a graffiti artists playground so many walls and abandoned spaces and good quality work. The list could go on and on.
Who is the most inspirational artist that you met?
I would put three people on this list and that would be Iz the Wiz, Dondi, Jon156, Sadly Dondi and Iz are no longer with us but they were two of the coolest people I met and even though they were so famous in the scene they both looked after me and was cool with me they had no big headed attitude like some writers who I have met and basically have not done shit really.Jon156 I am part of his crew 156nation he looked after me so much on my early trips in Paris he showed me around and let me stay with him in Paris he is a real cool guy.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
To be honest I am not sure I am getting old now I am 47 this year I have not got the same energy I had 30 years ago when I might have been climbing over walls or running along train lines.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I hope to maybe have some more shows or perhaps do some talks and get paid to fly somewhere. I have spent most of my income over the last 30 years travelling I was never sponsored by a airline company but wish I would have been maybe I would be richer than what I am now.
(Steam156 sticker brooklyn bridge nyc)
Do u want to say anything to our readers?
Many thanks to you guys for this cool opportunity ,I hope if some of your readers are in the UK they come check out my show, Also if any of your readers have any cool places for me to find great graffiti give me a shout.
Thanks alot for the interview.
People, Places, Trains, Walls, Faces: 30 Years of Documenting Graffiti and Street Art
6th February- 7th March 2015
An Exhibition of photography by Frank Malt “Steam 156”
198 Contemporay Arts and Learning
198 Railton Road, London, SE24 0JT
This unique show will showcase a range of selected rarely and ‘never seen before’ images from Frank ‘Steam 156’ Malt collection. the photos, taken by Frank Malt on many of his travels around the world between 1985-2015, will offer an exciting glimpse and insider’s view in to the world of the graffiti writer, from graffiti and street art on walls trains to images of the artists themselves. This will be an unique oppurtunity to view images from one archives in the world.
198 is located at the junction between
Railton Road and Hurst Street.