Graffiti has long been more than an art, but a form of expression, visual communication and identity among many other powerful meanings to millions of different people throughout the ages.  One such prophet of the pen, marker, notebook and can is Seattle’s own Ziplok who with The 206 Zulu Nation and King County Administration’s participation put together a historic graffiti competition and celebration on July 30, 2016.

The Keep It Fresh Graffiti Competition (and celebration) garnered and celebrated the talents of writers and artists from as far as British Columbia, Oregon, eastern Washington and other points on the map.  What culminated was a powerful exhibition of imagination, consciousness, expression and a truly family friendly Hip-Hop atmosphere.  “The love is here – I’m glad to be here”, said Sister Hailstorm of 206 Zulu.  Other notable visitors were present from Tacoma, Lacey/Olympia, Yakima, Tri-Cities and The Temple of Hip-Hop Kulture.

The amazing works at this compeition, took place at the King County archives buildings, right across the street from The 206 Zulu Nation’s offices, were run down, drab and nothing much to look at for the common passerby.  From 7am to 7pm, writers were given that period of time to use, color, math, science, visual engineering, imagination and execution to paint awesome images, words and passionate perspiration.  What emerged at 7pm was a moment in Hip-Hop history and certainly a benchmark for Seattle’s Hip-Hop history – as I was once recruited to be part of a Graffiti education program by the City of Seattle, which was designed to ‘clean up’ graffiti, more so than educate.  From the Egyptians telling stories on their own walls to the Seattlelites and their friends visiting on this day, graffiti was truly embraced, liberated and loudly celebrated.

Ziplok, also known by his given name – Andrew Morrison, is a student of arts studying in Baltimore, Maryland, but he is a Seattleite and along with 206 Zulu’s leadership of Queen Kitty Wu, King Khazm, other Zulu and staff of King County – a one day celebration of the dare-devil aspect of Hip-Hop was celebrated and highlighted.  Graffiti has been long-vilified as a scourge of dozens of communities in the United States and beyond.  Ziplok, captured the day’s events on film and delivers a brisk documentary film that highlights his presence in the Hip-Hop community and showcases the day’s participants, onlookers and competitors.

To visit and the view the work of the artists at KEEP IT FRESH Competition, Washington Hall (153 14th Ave, Seattle, Washington) is located right across the street from the King County Archive buildings, where the art was composed.  Do visit!

Keep It Fresh (2016) – A Film By ZIPLOK aka Andrew Morrison


Jose S. Gutierrez Jr.