Born in 1961, Richard “Richie” Mirando, aka SEEN is one of the most well-known graffiti artists in the world. Hailing from the Bronx, New York, he and his United Artists (UA) crew were some of the first to popularise painting on trains.
Known as the ‘Godfather of Graffiti’, SEEN began spray-painting trains on the New York Subway at the age of 11. “One day, I had two cans of spray paint, and I just walked to the train yard and I went through the hole in the fence and I painted my first train. Once I figured out the game there was no stopping me. From that point on it was a whole new world.” – SEEN
For the next 16 years SEEN pieces were running across the city and on all lines, but they were especially prominent on the 2, 5 and 6 lines. He was responsible for dozens of whole-car top-to-bottoms, many of which have become iconic images of the time.
It was during the early 1980s that SEEN started producing work on canvas, shown by galleries and bought by museums and private collectors across the globe. These included not only solo exhibitions but also group shows with artists such as Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Dondi, Quik, Blade and Lee Quinonnes.
Despite the high demand for his work in Europe and constant world travel, SEEN continued to hit the New York subway trains until 1989, long after increased pressure from the MTA had stopped many from doing so. He was also featured prominently in the 1983 PBS documentary Style Wars.
In the late 1980s SEEN also turned his talent to tattoo art, opening Tattoo SEEN, which quickly became one of the most successful studios in New York. SEEN's body of work includes three-dimensional sculpture, mixed media work with reclaimed or discarded materials (often found in the street), and a series of hand painted, limited edition MTA New York subway maps. He continues to exhibit worldwide and produce work with and alongside artists such as Banksy.