Suspended sentence for global graffiti artist
Source: The Age – 30.10.2009
By STEVE BUTCHER
WHEN high-profile international graphic artist Jason Williams’ plans for a legal graffiti competition in Melbourne failed this month, he resorted to plan B.
Williams told other graffiti artists on his Twitter page after finance for his ”Clash of the Titans” contest failed: ”F— this shit. I’m going to paint as much as I can and then get the f— out of Dodge.”
The Californian then turned criminal to hit eight known targets in 13 days from October 13 that included a rail bridge, a train carriage and various buildings, including one near St Vincent’s Hospital and another entailing 30 litres of paint.
Williams painted his identity ”tag” on multi-coloured canvases across the inner city, causing $15,300 damage.
A Melbourne court heard yesterday that he was in the process of leaving town on Wednesday when Connex alerted Victoria Police, which enlisted the Australian Federal Police to pull him from a flight to Sydney where he planned to depart for the US.
As his lawyer, Anna Balmer, told Melbourne Magistrates Court: ”He has painted himself into a very uncomfortable corner.”
Prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Glenn Abott said Williams had an ”extensive history of committing illegal graffiti in America and around the world” under the alias of Revok.
He took photos of his Melbourne work, transferred them to a laptop and then uploaded them to his website with references on Twitter to ”showcase” his efforts.
Williams, 32, pleaded guilty to nine charges of criminal damage.
Ms Balmer told magistrate Ian von Einem that her client, a graphic designer, was passionate about graffiti art but realised there were more ”appropriate forms for this type of art work”.
Ms Balmer said the talented artist, who was visited in the court cells by a member of the American consulate, had exhibitions planned in Los Angeles and Miami.
In sentencing him to a nine-month jail term suspended for two years, with an order he pay $15,340 compensation, Mr von Einem said such art work affected tourism in cities worldwide and undermined legitimate graffiti artists. Asked outside court when he was leaving Australia, Williams replied: ”Not soon enough.”
But he was quick to add that Melbourne was a beautiful city with ”amazing” architecture, but asked if he had improved it he said: ”I don’t know if I should comment on that.”
Asked if the court case would improve his profile, Williams responded: ”Who knows? I just do what I do. I came here. I did some stuff. Maybe I did a few things I shouldn’t have done. I apologise to the court and the Melbourne community for being irresponsible.”