SJK 171, aka Steve the Greek (born c.1957) is a New York City graffiti artist who was active during the late 1960s and 1970s.[2] A native of Washington Heights, he was a founding member of United Graffiti Artists, one of the first professional graffiti collectives.[3]

SJK 171
SJK171 3.png
SJK 171 (Steve Kesoglides) in the early 1970s
Steve Kesoglides

Known forPublic art
Street art


SJK 171 attended the High School of Art and Design along with a number of other early graffiti artists, and began writing in 1968 under the name SJK 171. His work was the first triple outline, large colorful letters to appear on the 1 Line of the New York City Transit System.[citation needed] Some sources have recognized him as a graffiti pioneer[4][5] and also for originating the "squiggly lines" style of outlining graffiti.[6][better source needed] In early 1971, he began to use the "swiggly radiant energy lines" later popularized by Keith Haring.[6] SJK 171 is also credited with pioneering the use of arrows in graffiti writing around this same time.[6] In 1973, SJK 171 was featured in a New York Magazine essay on graffiti art by Richard Goldstein.[7]

Gallery and show appearancesEdit

1973: A collaborative mural bearing SJK 171's tag, along with those of PHASE 2 and a dozen other early graffiti artists, was the main attraction at a gallery show of graffiti art at Razor Gallery in SoHo.[8] SJK 171 was also one of several graffiti writers featured in the backdrop design for the Joffery Ballet's production of Deuce Coupe.[9]

2014: SJK 171's work is included in the permanent collection of The Museum of the City of New York.[10]

2018-2019: SJK 171 was included in "Beyond the Streets", a street art exhibition displayed in Los Angeles and New York.[4][11][5]


  1. ^ "Graffiti". Democrat and Chronicle. 7 November 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  2. ^ "Street Art Originals Cornbread, Shepard Fairey and More on Graffiti's Radical Change". Observer. 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  3. ^ Riefe, Jordan (June 21, 2018). ""Beyond The Streets" Harkens To Graffiti's Roots In Diversity". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
  4. ^ a b Thomas, Sean P. "Celebrating Street Art in a Chinatown Warehouse". Los Angeles Downtown News - The Voice of Downtown Los Angeles. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  5. ^ a b Barry Samaha & Chloe Kantor (June 21, 2019). "From Vandals To Vanguards, This Exhibition Shows The Evolution Of Graffiti Artists". Surface. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Gastman, Roger (2015). Wall Writers Graffiti In Its Innocence (1st ed.). Berkeley, California: Gingko Press Inc. p. 121,122, 137,141,142. ISBN 978-1-58423-601-6.
  7. ^ Goldstein, Richard (26 March 1973). "This Thing Has Gotten Completely Out Of Hand". New York Magazine. New York City: New York Magazine.
  8. ^ Schjeldahl, Peter (September 16, 1973). "Graffiti Goes Legit—But the 'Show‐Off Ebullience' Remains". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-01-05.
  9. ^ Siegel, Marcia B. (2007-04-01). Howling Near Heaven: Twyla Tharp and the Reinvention of Modern Dance. Macmillan. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-4299-0877-1.
  10. ^ Corcoran, Sean; McCormick, Carlo (2013). City as canvas : New York City graffiti from the Martin Wong collection. Wong, Martin,, Corcoran, Sean, 1974-, McCormick, Carlo,, Museum of the City of New York. New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-8478-3986-5. OCLC 857194047.
  11. ^ Raquel Laneri (June 21, 2019). "How spray paint, ego and activism turned graffiti into an art form". New York Post. Retrieved December 29, 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Chandès, Hervé. Born in the Streets, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, 2006, ISBN 978-0-500-97695-1.
  • Gastman, Roger. The History of American Graffiti, HarperCollins, 2011, ISBN 978-0-06-169878-1.
  • Deitch, Jeffrey. Art in The Streets, Rizzoli International Publications, 2011, ISBN 978-0-8478-3648-2.
  • Gastman, Roger. Wall Writers: Graffiti in Its Innocence, Gingko Press, 2015, ISBN 978-1584236016.