Dirty Pictures

Paul “Moose” Curtis is a filthy man. But he’s making a difference by making pictures by cleaning. It’s called “reverse graffiti”, or as he prefers, “clean tagging” or “grime writing”. He starts with a very dirty surface, like a city wall or traffic tunnel, and creates a contrast by cleaning images into the dirt.

His latest blackened canvas is Broadway tunnel in San Francisco where he created a 140ft mural of trees indigenous to the area.

The self-described “Professor of Dirt” says it shocks people to realize how dirty their city is when they see his art. As a result of his activism, entire walls and tunnels have been cleaned.

This project in San Fran was sponsored by Green Works cleaning products, entirely plant-based, cruelty-free cleaners, invented in response to demand on the company that brought us Clorox. (Keep on voting with your green!) They became the first major consumer products firm to launch a line of environmentally friendly cleaners.

I don’t mind being advertised to like this. It’s hip, viral, relevant and thought-provoking. And the modern urban cross-promotional marriage between a clean tagger and a clean cleaner feels like one based on mutual admiration rather than one of convenience. That’s groovin’ with the woowoo.


  1. eric says:

    Dear Mr. Curtis,

    Should ever you find yourself north of the US/Canada border, specifically in Toronto, with a strong hankering to embark on some wonderful ‘clean tagging’ projects, please let me know – I could pass along a nice list of walls ripe for some stark creative beautification.
    Amazing work, yours – clean on, sir, clean on!



  2. This is the first I’ve heard of such a thing. I think it’s wonderful, and hope he keeps it up!

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