Graffiti Legends: Faces Behind Tags


Cuba - Baltimore circa 1985

The Pioneers of Graffiti: Yesterday and Today

In the eyes of the law, they were simply vandals, their nicknames writ large and garish across train cars, on lampposts, over tantalizingly bare walls. But in the past few years, as the form has morphed into the increasingly popular style known as street art (think Banksy and Shepard Fairey), the original graffiti writers — some of them deep into their 40s and looking more like your cool uncle than the scrappy city kids they once were — are coming into the spotlight as respected forefathers. Many of them make appearances in the April 2011 book The History of American Graffiti by Roger Gastman, who also recently curated a wildly successful, three-and-a-half-month exhibit, Art in the Streets, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Coinciding with the book and the museum show, editor-at-large Jeff Vespa — who spent some of his own youth tagging up Baltimore (see last slide) — caught up with “TAKI 183,” “Risk,” “Cuba,” “Mike 171,” and other graffiti pioneers. In this gallery, presents rare images of their tags from the ’70s and ’80s, plus Vespa’s new portraits of the artists today. Pictured: work by Cuba, who, Gastman says, brought a New York City-style of writing to San Francisco in the early 1980s. Check out the full gallery on Ginnifer Goodwin: One to Watch

Ginnifer Goodwin

Ginnifer Goodwin at home in Hollywood.

Ginnifer Goodwin – Sitting Pretty

For about 10 years, she’s been a standout in supporting roles and ensemble casts — playing Johnny Cash’s ex in Walk the Line, date-challenged Gigi in He’s Just Not That Into You, and, most famously, sunny third wife Margene in HBO’s just-wrapped polygamy drama Big Love. But with her new movie, the romantic comedy Something Borrowed (out May 6), Ginnifer Goodwin, 32, finally emerges as the marquee star. “I’ve definitely never worked so much over the course of shooting — I was in almost every single scene!” Goodwin says, calling from her home in Los Angeles on very little sleep. Being the main attraction, of course, means sticking to an unrelenting, cross-country promotional schedule — but in the days leading up to her movie’s big Hollywood premiere, Goodwin carved out some time for photographer and editor-at-large Jeff Vespa, inviting him inside her home and her glamorous work. Here, exclusive photos of the actress — who reveals her obsession with costar Kate Hudson’s belly, the origins of that coveted pixie haircut, and her unfiltered opinions about the questionable heroine she plays in Something BorrowedCheck out the full gallery on Sophia Loren: Her Beauty Today

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren in Los Angeles.

Sophia Loren Exclusive: A LIFE Legend Today

Of the many celebrities LIFE magazine featured in the 1950s and ’60s, Sophia Loren was a standout and a photographers’ favorite. She was the subject of seven cover stories and countless more inside spreads, always exuding supreme confidence, beauty, elegance, and a passion for la dolce vita. Those enviable qualities famously caught the eye of LIFE lensman Alfred Eisenstaedt decades ago — and today they captivate editor-at-large Jeff Vespa, who had the honor of photographing the actress, still stunning at 76, during her most recent stay in Los Angeles. In the States to visit her sons and to attend an Academy-hosted tribute to her career — she won the Oscar nearly 50 years ago, for her heart-wrenching turn in Two Women — Loren graciously let LIFE into her world once more. . .

Check out the full gallery on David Arquette: His Life Now

David Arquette -

David Arquette in Malibu.

EXCLUSIVE: David Arquette’s Changed Life

For most Hollywood stars — notoriously reluctant to share anything at all about their off-screen lives — promoting a movie at a time of personal difficulty is the nightmare scenario. But then, there is David Arquette. While doing interviews tied toScream 4, the much-anticipated horror sequel opening April 15, the 39-year-old actor has been an open book, gamely answering questions about the details of his separation from Courteney Cox, his wife of 11 years, and what he’s learned from a recent stint in rehab for alcohol. But now, Arquette goes one step further: For three days leading up to the premiere of his new movie, he allowed photographer and editor-at-large Jeff Vespa inside his world — his homes, his work, even his playtime with daughter Coco — to offer the full picture of what his life is like after more than 100 days of sobriety. Here, in photos and in his own words, meet the new David Arquette. Pictured: The actor in Malibu, on the beach outside one of the homes he owns with Cox.

Check out the full gallery on

Christina Applegate’s with her new baby Sadie on the cover of People.

Christina Applegate and baby Sadie

Christina Applegate: Baby Sadie has made my life better.

by Julie Jordan – Photos by Jeff Vespa

Holding newborn daughter Sadie Grace in the hospital on Jan. 27, Christina Applegate was overwhelmed by her feelings of acceptance and love.

“I felt my heart literally open up for the first time and like wrap itself around her. It was profound,” Applegate, 39, tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “And I’m more in love with her every minute of the day.”

Back home in the L.A. house she shares with musician fiancé Martyn LeNoble, 41, Applegate has been relishing motherhood. “I want to be the ultimate burper and diaper-changer, I want to be the ultimate at all of it,” she says.

“Sometimes I stand there going, ‘I’m not doing any of this right!’ And then I get this big man belch out of her and I go, ‘Ah, we accomplished this together.’ ”

It’s those little moments that now mean the most to Applegate, who opted for a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.

“I’ve had to talk about that word [cancer] more than I’ve ever had to talk about a word in my life,” she says. “After a while you’re like, ‘There’s got to be something else to me.’ ”

Daughter Sadie has now given Applegate a new word to focus on: Mom.

“Yeah, now I’m Mom. She’s healed me in so many ways,” says the actress. “She’s just made my life so much better. She’s opened my whole soul.”

Check it out on

Sundance 2011: LIFE Portraits

Ed Helms bundles up in Sundance.

When the winter winds blow cold outside but you’re already part of the way through Hollywood awards season, you know it’s that time of year again — Sundance Film Festival time. This year, the stars of Sundance are once again getting the LIFE treatment, captured through the lens of photographer Jeff Vespa at his on-site studio. Here: Ed Helms bundles up. Check in daily for more pics of stars getting their kicks in Utah. Check out the full gallery by clicking here. – Fast Food through the Lens of Still Life Photographers

McDonald's Angus Third Pounder

Here is an excerpt from an article published on about my burger series of photographs.

By Megan Fizell

Published on November 12, 2010

It is within the context established through Schlosser, the nostalgic tones of the 1950′s visual aesthetic in theBurger Series (Figure 4) by Jeff Vespa, can be understood. Vespa visited the fast food joints around Los Angeles in order to recreate the out-dated stock images found on laminated menus in the diners across America. Hamburgers were only purchased from restaurants where the consumer was required to order at the counter, brought back to Vespa’s studio and styled to present all of the ingredients in the sandwich to the viewer. The images were shot with a Polaroid camera, one photograph of each burger, each an original artwork. The idea of originality is in direct contrast to the subject of Vespa’s work. The fast food restaurants from which the hamburgers were sourced standardized every aspect of production — from the diameter of the patty, to the exact amount of ketchup and mustard. This enabled the company to manufacture and assemble — not typical verbs associated with food production– the same product in every restaurant. By using the Polaroid camera, Vespa references the Pop art movement because “the image is instantly recognizable and when you see so many in repetition it reminds you of Warhol.” For the viewer, the vintage medium presents the appetizing hamburger so that it is easy to visually consume and recalls faded childhood photographs, highlighting our latent juvenile desires.

Read the whole article on here. – – Fast Food through the Lens of Still Life Photographers – Jessica Alba Invites You Over

Jessica Alba on the cover of LIFE

At the end of a secluded cul-de-sac in Los Angeles, inside her lush, light-filled home, one of Hollywood’s sexiest stars spends a Saturday doing the unthinkable: cooking for a bunch of people on her day off. But for Jessica Alba, whom you’ll next see kicking butt in the action-exploitation flick Machete (Sept. 3), this is far from drudgery. It’s a precious opportunity to play hostess, a role close to her heart. Among those lucky enough to score an invitation to the 29-year-old actress’ private dinner party on August 21 was photographer Jeff Vespa, who captured, exclusively for LIFE, a side of the star she was eager to share: Here, check out Alba, radiant and relaxed, as she shows off her kitchen skills, kicks back with an art book in her living room (pictured), and enjoys the view from what she calls her “woman’s room.”

Check out the full article by clicking here: – On the road with Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise on the European tour for "Knight and Day"

Tom Cruise on the European tour for "Knight and Day"

The typical press junket for a movie usually involves a boring L.A. hotel room, an intimidating schedule of back-to-back interviews, and a star weary of being asked the same questions over and over again. But as moviegoers have known for a while now, Tom Cruise is anything but typical. To promote the new action/comedy/romance Knight and Day, Cruise and his costar Cameron Diaz revisited two of the cities in which they filmed — Salzburg, Austria, and Seville, Spain — and helped journalists curious about the movie to experience it in a unique, hands-on way. LIFE photographer Jeff Vespa was there, trailing Cruise and Diaz in the two days leading up to their big red carpet moment, the Knight and Day world premiere. Here: After a full day of racing around on a motorcycle in Seville — more on that in a bit — Cruise settles in beside costar Diaz and his wife Katie Holmes at the June 16 premiere.

Check out the full gallery on – – Sundance: From the Portrait Studio

Kristen Stewart, Sundance Star

Kristen Stewart, Sundance Star

At the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where she is promoting her upcoming movie The Runaways (about the young Joan Jett and her band), Kristen Stewart is among the stars who dropped by photographer Jeff Vespa’s studio. As the festival continues (it runs through Jan. 31), check daily to see Vespa’s portraits of the stars. Click here to see the gallery on –

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