FIRST THOUGHT: Clawing Your Way Through the Streets
In the 1960s and 1970s, graffiti and street art became part of a cultural movement. Oftentimes, graffiti isn’t just made by a rebellious teenager with a can of spray paint; it can be made with the intention of sending a message. In the 1980s, entire subway cars in the Bronx depicted murals. Today, let’s have a little fun and create our own street-art personas. What would your style be? Would it be a straightforward tag? Maybe you’d lean toward “Wild Style,” which is like tagging but a little harder to read, or “Heaven,” which is just graffiti put in hard-to-reach places.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 1 Percent
Now visualize a person spraying the wall of a building. Did you immediately imagine a guy? There’s a reason why. Men dominate the graffiti world, but don’t worry, graffiti queens will be dethroning kings soon enough. According to graffiti photographer Martha Cooper, the percentage of female street artists has gone up from 0.1 percent to 1 percent. Sure, it’s a small step for womankind, but a big step for female street artists.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Claudia Gold, CEO of Claw Money
Let’s talk about one of the women who makes up that 1 percent. Today’s Woman to Watch, Claudia Gold (aka Claw Money), has been a street-art mainstay in New York City since the late 1980s. Fellow street artists know her, New Yorkers know her and now you know her too.
Before she earned her street cred, though, Claudia attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. After working in fashion for a while, she eventually decided she wanted to ditch cover stitching and clipping for claw making.
That’s when Claudia founded Claw and Company, a collection line and creative agency that showcases her graffiti. Her signature unsanctioned piece was a claw icon, often in various colors with one word in the middle, which she now uses in much of the artwork in her shop. From pins and patches to T-shirts to pants for kiddos, Claudia has found innovative ways to spread her signature claw.
Claw Money doesn’t just ride solo, though. She’s set a precedent for women artists by collaborating with companies like Bust Magazine, Project Runway and Vans. Even musicians like Santigold are fans of this Queens-born entrepreneur. It’s important to Claudia to not be a sellout. She turned down an opportunity for her designs to go more mass market, setting up shop on an NYC street instead.
In a twist many of us may not have seen coming because of the bad rap street-art gets, the city of New York often commissions her for work. Claw Money made her mark in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood when she joined forces with another artist to be part of the 100 Gates Project, a collaboration between artists and merchants that turns boring, unpainted security gates into beautiful works of art.
Claudia’s story proves that with enough vision and determination, any woman could break into a male-dominated industry. She isn’t the first female street artist, and she certainly won’t be the last.
Being a woman in business can make you feel isolated and alone, especially in an industry dominated by men. As the CEO of Claw Money, Claudia Gold shares with us her tips for being a successful female businesswoman in the creative world. Click here or head over to our newly renovated website OnTheDotWoman.com to read more!
QUITE THE QUOTE:
Graffiti artist Andrea Michaelsson, aka Btoy, said:
“I often paint portraits of women from the past, women that tried to break the rules. We still need to break the rules. We still don’t have a real gender equality. This is my message, not always very obvious, but often added to my work.”