TAKI 183 was one of the most influential graffiti writers in its history. His "tag" was short for Demetaki, a Greek alternative for his birth-name Demetrius, and the number 183 came from his address on 183rd Street in Washington Heights. He worked as a foot messenger in New York City and would write his nickname around the streets of New York City that he frequented during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
On July 21, 1971, The New York Times ran an article about him on the front page of its inside section, titled "Taki 183" Spawns Pen Pals. TAKI 183 spurred competitive tagging in NYC as his tag was mimicked by hundreds of youth across the five boroughs. The kids who got their names up the most and who developed signature tags became known in their communities. Graffiti became a way for many young kids to try to get attention and the attention TAKI 183 received spurred this on. Many people who grew up in New York City and remember the era before TAKI 183's time regard him not as an artist, but rather a vandal without conscience, who deserved not praise, but prison.
Although TAKI 183 was the first to be showcased in a publication it is said that Julio 204 began writing his tag in NYC first. However Julio did not write outside his own neighborhood of Inwood in Manhattan, and this is arguably the reason why he never received the media-attention TAKI did.
TAKI was last known to be the owner of a foreign car repair shop. In an interview with the New York Daily News of April 9, 1989, he talked about his retirement as a graffiti writer: "As soon as I got into something more productive in my life, I stopped. Eventually I got into business, got married, bought a house, had a kid. Didn't buy a station wagon, but I grew up, you could say that."
The graffiti tag in the 1985 film Turk 182 was inspired by TAKI 183.
In May 2009, the official TAKI 183 website was launched. The site includes photos of his work, images of his friends and contemporaries, his true story and official TAKI 183 limited-edition screenprints.
- Boland Jr., Ed. "F.Y.I. 'Taking TAKI's Tag'", The New York Times, June 15, 2003.
- "'Taki 183' Spawns Pen Pals". New York Times, 21 July 1971. page 37. (see pdf at http://www.ni9e.com/blog_images/taki_183.pdf)
- Joel Siegal. "When TAKI Ruled Magik Kingdom", Daily News, April 9, 1989. (see reprint at ZephyrGraffiti.com http://www.zephyrgraffiti.com/otherwrt/taki183.html)
- The Faith of Graffiti. Mervyn Kurlansky, Jon Naar, Norman Mailer. Praeger Publishers, New York, 1974. ISBN 0-275-43660-8.
- Style: Writing from the Underground. (R)evolutions of Aerosol Linguistics., Stampa Alternativa in Association with IGTimes. ISBN 88-7226-318-2.
- Subway Art. Chalfant, Henry and Cooper, Martha. New York, New York: Henry Holt & Co, publisher. ISBN 0-8050-0678-8, 198 4, 1995.
- Freight Train Graffiti. Roger Gastman, Ian Sattler, Darin Rowland. Harry N Abrams Inc, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8109-9249-8.
- The Birth of Graffiti. Jon Naar. Prestel, 2007. ISBN 978-3-7913-3796-8.
- TAKI 183 in Hip Hop Culture. Emmett G. Price, III. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2006, p. 187. ISBN 1-85109-867-4. Also see pp. 30–31, 48, 106.