Maksim Gelman’s short lived life in Graffiti

February 15th, 2011 by


Maksim Gelman made an international name for himself this last weekend by going on a 28 hour murder spree, during which he killed 4 and attempted to kill many others. The story that the NYC press has mostly glossed over though is that this raving lunatic had prior arrests for Graffiti. This is definitely not to say that the graffiti artists of NYC ever embraced him as one of their own. Indeed, Maksim was known mostly as a toy - a wack bottom feeder with no style, little creativity, and an itch to start beef wherever he could. A quick survey of about a dozen writers yielded a universal response: Maksim sucked at life, and if his peers even knew who he was, they hated his wack handywork.

When I inquired if anyone had photos of his work, some turned to me and said yo, YOU probably have photos of his crappy throw ups from the freight tracks of Brooklyn. And indeed, unbeknown to me, I did.

In my documentation of the Bay Ridge Branch freight line for Brooklyn Queens Freight, I shot a few hundred photos of the graffiti along the tracks. Some of these photos contain Maksim's scraw and throwys. The majority of the photos containing this rubbish graffiti never made the cut and were not printed in BQF. A few got in there though, usually with his scrawl going over someone else or pushed against better graffiti in a vain attempt to be seen next to such works of art.

The most common aspect of his graffiti in these photos is that he has applied his tags over other writers, or has been crossed out by other writers. This is fairly unique across all of the photos I took on that day. No one on these tracks was jones for beef as much as Maksim (well, cept maybe another toy, but let's not talk about him). I did no real editing/selecting of photos for this write up: what you see in these photos is how all of his graffiti seemed to appear on the freight tracks - either over someone else's in an attempt to start a battle, or crossed out by people who hated him. For someone to go out of their way to try and start beef with other writers shows a lot of things about his personality. He wanted attention, bad or good. Full of hate and looking for a fight is the usual MO of such people.

All of that said, Maksim will not be missed - in society or in the NYC Graffiti world. The tracks are better off without such people around.

Props to BDPH, Vize & Indent for the 411. I wouldn't have know I was sitting on this without the input...

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  • About The Author

    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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