Kunle Martins is an icon of the downtown scene, who is just now gaining the recognition that he deserves in the art world nearly two decades after his contemporaries blew up. And IRAK’s influence can still be seen in brands driving the culture today. GQ’s profile does a fantastic job of telling the graffiti crew’s story with its founder planted at the center. This is the perfect companion piece to Cheryl Dunn’s Dash Snow documentary.
By this point, IRAK weren’t just repainting downtown; they were rewiring it, making new connections between cultural movements. They brought together skateboarders and fashion models and ravers and blue-chip artists and legendary Bronx graffiti writers and less legendary wannabe vandals from New Jersey. We take for granted that all of these worlds are constantly colliding—fashion and art and music are now all part of one cultural spectrum—but that wasn’t always the case. With Martins as a kind of spiritual leader, those who fell under the IRAK umbrella weren’t seeking out others who were just like them. That’s exactly what they were trying to escape. They were looking for people who were different, as different as they were themselves.