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Why we tag

July 10 2008 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

A few weeks ago I was checking the surf at Swamis and noticed this guy's tailgate that was absolutely riddled with stickers. It reminded me of this tailgate I saw on a truck at Waimea Bay (check the plates).

It also jogged my memory. I remembered blogging on surfer's breadcrumbs (surfers marking their trail via stickers) years ago. I also remembered some black and white photos I took a few years back of woodys during the annual Wavecrest event in Encinitas. One of those is below.

When I go to an event like Wavecrest I look at the stickers as much as I look at the Woodys. I want to see authentic stickers... I want to see some history.

The tag or element of leaving a mark goes back to the days of Pompei. That makes sense to me as I lived in NYC in the eighties. This was when Rick Rubin started Def Jam records in his NYU dorm room and the trains were a canvas that changed nightly, tagging and graffiti was a vibrant extension the Wild Style culture. There was a sense that something new was happening and yet there was also a sense that graffiti wasn't new at all.

No, I'm not condoning this or promoting it... I'm simply looking at our culture and attempting to make sense of it. And tagging is a visual part of beach/surf culture.

So... why do we tag?

Stickers = tags = graffiti

These are markings, signatures, messages or territorial/cultural claims.

We tag to mark. We tag to customize. We tag to personalize. We tag to communicate. We tag to make a claim. We tag to make it personal. We tag to make it... ours.

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