Vinny Raffa Street Art

Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Stories From Main Street: A Look At The Secret World Of Street Art

January 20, 2019 - 4:00 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A chance encounter led to an interview with an artist known for posting stickers with his face just about everywhere.

From street polls to signs at gas stations and bus stops, you may be able to find the black-and-white face of a man with a goatee.

His name is Vinny Raffa, and in his spare time he creates a unique type of art.

Vinny Raffa Street Art
Sean Adams/WCBS 880

In this week's Story From Main Street, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams offers a rare glimpse into Raffa’s secret world of street art.

“I put my face all over the place and in return people see it and when they get to meet me it's like meeting Waldo,” Raffa says.

By day he is an electrician— the rest of the time he's a street artist, and while technically his art form is considered graffiti, he notes street art has been growing in acceptance and popularity.

Still, he does take precautions and is careful not to damage property.

“I usually put it on back of signs,” Raffa explained, “so it doesn't destroy the actual sign.”

Adams caught Raffa putting up a sticker, but did not disclose where in the city he spotted him— in part to protect Raffa as street art can often be considered vandalism.

“In the city, New York City, it’s considered graffiti, they made it in the graffiti category,” he said.

Vinny Raffa Street Art
Sean Adams/WCBS 880

Though, Raffa doesn’t see it that way, and explains that, in general, he just an average person who tries his best to do good.

“I am from the east side of the United States, New York area. I've been involved with skateboarding 30 years and I do a lot for kids and I'm an artist,” he told Adams.

The sticker portraits Raffa creates have their roots in pop art, made popular by artist Andy Warhol— who Raffa believes would be very involved in the street art community.

“He be putting his sticker, putting his face all over the place,” the street artist explained.

Raffa says his style was inspired by another artist who created the Barack Obama “Hope” image, Shepard Fairey, who in the early 90s plastered New York City with black and white images of the wrestler Andre the Giant.

Raffa says he does get stopped by police officers while placing his stickers around the city, but it doesn't mean he gets arrested.

“When they catch me, they want a picture with me instead of a arresting me,” Raffa joked.

He said he used to slap his stickers on Garden State Parkway toll booths, but they kept disappearing, and when he found out why, he was moved.

“I thought they must really hate me here. Then one day I’m at the toll booth, and this guy with the change, you know, clicking the change, comes walking by with this metal square cart and there was a thousand of my Vinny stickers on the cart. So, they were collecting them for the cart,” Raffar explained.

As to why he does it, Raffa answered simply: “It's art, you know, I enjoy it.”