AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s all over Austin: on light poles, stop signs, overpasses, underpasses and buildings. “Buscar,” the Spanish word for “to search.”
So what gives?
The first clue might be right in front of us. The author of a book on the subculture of graffiti in Los Angeles — who studies gangs, graffiti and neighborhood changes — says the style of the tag itself tells a big part of this story.
“The letters adhere to the basic styles that were popular in Los Angeles and New York during the 1990s and into the early 2000s, and it’s legible, but at the same time fits the stylistic conventions of non-gang graffiti,” said Stefano Bloch, author of Going All City.
Though some have speculated online that the tag might indicate some kind of collective, Blonch said that’s very unlikely.
“Most people erroneously believe that just about all of the graffiti that they see that they’re unable to decipher is gang related, it’s actually the completely the opposite,” he explained. “Overwhelmingly the motivation for a graffiti writer is to get recognition by their peers, to act out a little bit in a way that is non-violent and to have a little bit of fun in the process.”
So who is this person? Some on Reddit speculate they live near House Park skate park, which sees high numbers of the tags. So we went.
“I’ve seen it everywhere pretty much,” said Kenyon Phillips, who was skating at the park Friday. “You can see it, I mean even 10 miles like north of here up to 183, you can see a very wide range of it, but I think it’s the most heavily concentrated in the vicinity of House Skate Park.”
We talked to a number of skaters, some who said they knew the person behind the graffiti. We offered our contact information up. Everyone at the park had heard the legend: the perpetrator is at the park.
“We all agree that it must be over here, if it’s not right here they come here often,” Phillips said.
It’s not just the teens at the skate park that are talking about “Buscar” though. The chair of the American Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin, Randolph Lewis, is talking about it too.
“It’s pretty interesting because it is a moment where somebody unknown is trying to make themselves known, it’s kind of a way of ordinary people who feel invisible making themselves temporarily visible,” Lewis said.
Visible only through graffiti for now, the mystery of who’s behind the graffiti remains intact.