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. 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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