Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

A few months ago, I started photographing ghost graffiti — graffiti that’s been painted over. I can understand that this must be really frustrating for property owners, but the gathered visual evidence of this phenomenon is fascinating and even inspiring in its own strange way.

Of course, this isn’t limited to Cincinnati, but that’s where I took these photos, mostly downtown and in Over-the-Rhine. Once I started noticing this pattern of painting over graffiti with almost-matching [or not] paint, I quickly ended up with tons of examples and had to edit down to my favorites. Above, the old Walt’s at 15th and Republic. Below, St. Paulus Kirche at 15th and Race.

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Some more examples that I would deem “close-ish” attempts at color-matching:

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Downtown, next to an old Shepard Fairey muraltisement:

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

In Over-the-Rhine on a Future Blooms building; a “visual language referencing the occupation of these properties” unfortunately doesn’t seem to be a graffiti deterrent:

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

These layers of similar paint colors reveal an ongoing battle with graf writers:

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Color-matching? Not so much in the following images, starting with yet another example from the corner of 15th and Race in Over-the-Rhine, right below a swanky ghost sign:

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Here’s a tip for property owners — painting exactly over the lines just recreates what you’re trying to cover up. The above “rectangular freestyle” examples are much more effective than the quasi-tracings below:

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Another tip — do use opaque paint for maximum impact:

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

The following high-contrast examples are like Band-Aids, calling attention to what they’re covering up:

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

Of all the examples of ghost graffiti that I’ve gathered over the past few months, this one is by far my favorite. What do we call this? Visual vomit? The work of a color-blind property owner or a nascent color field painter?

Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

13 thoughts on “Ghost Graffiti in Cincinnati

  1. I can’t believe I’m seeing this because I take these photos, too (to a lesser extent). I call them inner-city Rothkos.

    “Visual vomit” made me laugh.

  2. Great post! I’ve undertaken a similar project of documenting exposed rathskeller murals as buildings come down all over OTR… subterranean or previous indoor scenes of German wine country exposed.

  3. If it’s gray or white paint, whether it matches the building or not, that usually means the City of Cincinnati’s graffiti removal program took care of it (not the building owner). They hide it because some of the tags are related to gang territory.

  4. Pingback: Linda’s Beauty Salon Ghost Sign in Over-the-Rhine | Visualingual

  5. Pingback: A Perfect Weekend in Cincinnati | Visualingual

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