After my first busy day as an intern in New York City, I was excited to get out and explore.
Walking down 17th street, I noticed in a derelict carpark, a piece of street art that caught my eye.
Behind the modern array of cars, was a simple brick wall, painted with a man in a bowler hat, facing the wall in order to paint the iconic ‘I Love New York’.
The juxtaposition was incredible; not only of the modern cars to the vintage bowler hat man, but also of the beauty in the painting to the ordinary parking lot, the black and white with the red heart – it was a work of art that I was lucky enough to stumble upon.
Upon researching later, I discovered that ‘The Vandal’ is the name given to my bowler hat friend, created by Britain’s Nick Walker, a well known graffiti artist for his part in the Stencil Graffiti Movement. The Vandal is an icon in Walker’s work, and in 2014 when he held his art show: All I Ever Wanted Was My Name On Fire, in NYC, he introduced New Yorkers to The Vandal in said car park on 17 street and 6th avenue.
‘I Love New York’ has become something of a symbol in Manhatten, with tourists purchasing I Love New York merchandise as a common souvenir. In having his bowler hatted Vandal express his love in the streets of New York, Walker not only represents his own fascination with the city, but has also created a popular ‘unofficial’ tourist attraction, as tourists seek out this piece in their trail of finding more I Love New York fandom.
The more you know.