Topic: Ras 1: Graffiti Writer

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Watene Williams or 'Ras 1' as he is also known is emerging as a leading Graffiti Writer talent in Tauranga and further field.

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Contemporary Graffiti art can take on many forms and is not to be confused with the mindless tagging vandalism that bedevils the authorities and costs us so much to cover.

Graffiti Writing is part of the Street Art genre and is centred around designing letters of a self-chosen name and bringing it to life. Writers have developed countless styles and style variations which undergo continual change.

Ras.1. has been doing graffiti writing and characters for the past eight years. He was born in Tauranga and art quickly became an important aspect of his life as he was growing up.

He has been inspired by local artists Owen Dippie and Graham Hoete and counts contemporary international graffiti artists Rime and Revok among those whose work has influenced his art.

A commissioned character and piece by Ras.1 (2012).

Graffiti writers are guided by many of the motivations and techniques of other visual artforms. Legal graffiti has become an accepted genre globally. The graffiti writer does more than create a stylized name. Writing is an expression of personality and skills that take time and talent to master.

Over the years Ras.1. has developed his own signature style which he describes as , " colourful , new-school contemporary ".

He says a good piece must have energy, flow, legibility and above all else it must be clearly defined or 'clean'.

Too many elements make a piece confused and defeat the clean lines and design that are desired. Scale and balance are also important. He also says that it is important to know the history and to study the art form to create informed and successful pieces.

Detail of a Ras.1. piece at Owen Dippie's Ashworth Lane gallery (2011). 

Photography is an important aspect of graffiti writing as the longevity of even very accomplished pieces is sometimes short.

With the limited availability of legal wall space new work often covers work that has only been up for a matter of months. One such wall can be found outside Owen Dippie's studio gallery where art by Ras.1. can be seen alongside internationally recognised Owen, Graham Hoete and Phat.1.

Watene is hoping to mount an exhibition of his work sometime in the future and is currently working on some new 3D graffiti styles and more works on canvas. Available to do all sorts of commission work he is also in high demand as a tattoo artist and musician.

See some of Ras.1.'s work upstairs at the Owen Dippie Gallery on Ashworth Lane off Totara Street.

To find out more about his work contact Ras.1. by email at

by Pete Morris (September, 2012)

Pete Morris is an occasional painter and an art lover.. He is a free-lance writer who has a particular interest in promoting the visual arts in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.


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Ras 1: Graffiti Writer

First Names:Watene
Last Name:Williams