The Helsinki Connection mini-FAQ

It has come apparent that I should give a brief explanation of the aims and purpose of the Helsinki Connection web site. So, here is a kind of 'mini-FAQ'.

[Why was this page started?]
[What are the aims of this site?]
[But isn't it illegal?]
[Who else might object?]
[When are these pages updated?]
[Why spend so much time and money on this?]
[Who runs this site?]

Why was this page started?

This web site was started in October 1996 because at the time I felt the Internet was lacking in any quality Finnish graffiti. There was some, but not nearly enough. Many other countries such as Sweden, Norway, Holland, England, and of course the US, all had large sites dedicated to showing their best work. Even the lesser known places such as some of the Eastern European countries were getting on the case. So I thought why not Finland? One of Helsinki's strong points is their plentiful and quality graffiti. Hence, the Helsinki Connection was born. Since then there have been other Finnish sites starting up too. Together we can put Finland on the map.

As you know, pieces get buffed, or cleaned, regularly. With the help of these pages those pieces can still be viewed. It does not need to be lost forever in a blast of sand and water or because someone else painted over it. It will still have a public place here where it can be viewed freely.

What are the aims of this site?

One of the aims of this web site was to promote the artistic side of graffiti. I, like many other similarly minded people, look at it as art not vandalism. Art, such as graffiti, should be in a public place. I did not start the Helsinki Connection with the objective to encourage illegal activities. There are many talented young painters in Helsinki and this site is dedicated to proving that to the world.

But isn't it illegal?

By showing a collection of pieces on the Web I am not breaking the law. However some of the artwork featured is done illegally, without the property owner's permission. This is the reason why some people object to this web site. I often see cleaners buffing a wall to remove the pieces that have been painted on it. Empty, gray walls are boring and depressing, there's nothing quite like a good piece to brighten things up. That is my view. Unfortunately society has dictated that is viewpoint is wrong. There are people more qualified then me to argue this point, so I do not want to spend too much time writing about it here.

Not all of the work here is illegal. Some of the pieces have been commissioned by various groups, or are places that may be painted on freely without risk of prosecution. If more of these places were made available it could help young artists stay away from the lawless side. The current situation is, if you want to get your work noticed you have to paint in unauthorized places.

Who else might object?

Some people in the business of graffiti do not like to see their work on the Internet. So far I have received a couple of requests for their own work to be removed. This is not a problem and I respect anyone who feels his or her efforts should not be featured on this site. But it is a little ironic considering that they paint in public places with the aim of getting as many people as possible to see the results (which is the whole point of graffiti, and this site).

Some have even argued that graffiti has no place on the Internet. To me this seems pretty absurd. As we all know, the Internet contains information on just about everything, so why not graffiti? Graffiti galleries are ideally suited to this new, unrestricted, free for all technology. I see no reason why the two cannot co-exist together.

Fortunately most visitors like these pages. I have had many letters stating they are grateful for what I am doing. Thank you to all who have written in.

When are these pages updated?

Never, it's all over. So stop bugging me about it, dammit!!

Why spend so much time and money on this?

I do not pay for the web space. Art Crimes in the US has kindly provided it free of charge. The only cost involved for me was the small phone bill when uploading files. Similarly, I make no money out of this at all. However it did take quite a bit of my time and effort. I did it for the love of this art form. I guess it was my way of giving back to the graffiti community, rather than being directly involved in painting myself.

Who runs this site?

I do, er did, heh. It may surprise some people but I do not live in Finland. I don't even live in Europe for a lot of the year. But I do manage to come back to Helsinki every now and then to see the graf! This is why I do not update these pages as often as I would like. Most of the time I had to rely on you lot to send pictures to me.

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