Estimated reading time: 8 minute(s)
On February 5, 2021, I published an article (with photo) about “Blob Dylan” graffiti that I happened across in a very rare trip to Bushwick, Brooklyn. My inspiration for taking the photo and turning it into an article was the fact that my New Leaf Journal colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, is a self-described “neurotic Bob Dylan devotee.” I was surprised to find that the first Blob Dylan article was relatively successful in terms of visitors by our modest standards (especially modest around the time it was published), so I followed it up with a second Blob Dylan article examining the potential meaning of “Blob Dylan” graffiti on April 12. That article turned out to be more successful than the first. In addition to the two articles about the graffiti, I referenced “Blob Dylan” twice in humorous articles.
While I never formally closed the Blob Dylan series, I assumed that my Blob Dylan reporting work was done. However, I received a very kind and helpful reader submission from a gentleman originally hailing from Saint Petersburg, Florida, on the subject of my Blob Dylan articles. He not only took the time to read my Blob Dylan work and comment, but he also provided some interesting information that sheds light on the person behind the Blob Dylan graffiti.
At The New Leaf Journal, we covered the graffiti in Bushwick and the “Blob Dylan” meme itself, but we never considered the person behind it. That ends today. Armed with helpful tips and some additional research, I will dig into the true story behind the Blob Dylan graffiti that has been seen it cities throughout the United States.
The Blob Dylan Tips
A gentleman who came across my Blob Dylan content sent an email to our Contact Form after finding a Blob Dylan tag in the wild.
The tipster explained that he is from the city that the Blob Dylan tagger started in St. Petersburg, Florida. He reported that this Blob Dylan tagger has more than 100 tags in St. Petersburg.
Of course, this information raises questions. The Blob Dylan tagger is from St. Petersburg. How did he reach Bushwick? The tipster was understandably “surprised” to run into the same Blob Dylan tags he was familiar with in St. Petersburg in Bushwick, Brooklyn. According to the tip, the Blob Dylan tagger is “a staple of local folklore” in St. Petersburg, and is (or was) locked in a competition with another tagger who styles himself as “Never Fart.”
In follow-up correspondence after I informed the tipster that I hoped to incorporate the new information into a full Blob Dylan report, he did some additional research of his own into the matter. The tipster discovered an interesting Reddit thread on the subject that we will report on shortly. He also scoured Instagram, and found that most “Blob Dylan” tags were in St. Petersburg and Bushwick. There were additional tag sightings, but the tipster believes that many (if not all) of the tags outside of St. Petersburg and Bushwick were not by the same person due to differences in the style of the “O” in “Blob.”
Why did Mr. Blob turn up in Bushwick? The tipster suggested that he may have been pushed out of St. Petersburg in recent years like other artists and creatives, which caused him to relocate.
Examining the Issues
To begin, I extend my gratitude to the Blob Dylan tipster for taking the time to write and share what he knew about Blob Dylan (he chose to remain anonymous – otherwise I would have credited him by name). I will explore the information he provided in conjunction with some additional research below. While we will not answer every question, we can learn a bit more about the story behind the Blob Dylan tags, which I did not examine in prior articles. Without the tip, I would have been content to let the Blob Dylan project stand as it was with the first two articles I wrote on the subject.
The Reddit Thread
Let us begin with a 2019 Reddit thread that was referred to me by our generous email tipster. Rather than send you to Reddit, I archived the thread from a privacy-friendly Reddit front-end, you can read it here.
A Reddit user in St. Petersburg, Florida, posted a question for the St. Petersburg community about Blob Dylan tags appearing in the area on May 2, 2019. The post yielded a couple of interesting responses.
A Stand-Up Comedian?
A Reddit user who goes by “brewmatt” reported on May 10, 2019, that he had seen “Blob Dylan’s” stand up at the Iberian Rooster in November 2018. We are told that Blob Dylan’s comedy was “absolutely hilarious.”
I did some in-depth research and confirmed that there is an Iberian Rooster restaurant and bar in St. Petersburg, Florida, that is still in business as of October 23, 2021. However, I did not find any on-point information about a comedy event in November 2018. While I do not doubt the Reddit poster, I cannot find documentation of his tip.
“Blob Dylan” vs “Never Fart”
A Reddit poster by the name of “chewmattica” noted the ubiquity of both “Blob Dylan” and “Never Fart” tags in Downtown St. Petersburg in 2019:
This, along with Never Fart, are way up on my WTF list when I walk around DTSP.
A Blob Dylan Musician?
A Reddit poster by the name of “zeeeig” provided a link to the Bandcamp page of a musician who goes by “Blob Dylan.” While I did not have time to peruse this Blob Dylan’s full album and body of work, I looked briefly to see if there was any indication that he was linked to the Blob Dylan graffiti. I found none, so I will assume going forward that this Blob Dylan is not linked to the tags appearing in St. Petersburg, Bushwick, and elsewhere.
Blob Dylan Dates Back To At Least 2017
While I am not sure when the Blob Dylan tag began, an article in the Tampa Bay Times that was published on August 2, 2017, confirms that it was present in St. Petersburg on that date. The author, Mr. Christopher Spata, wrote:
People prone to walking might know of ‘blob dylan’…
Blob only received a passing mention in the article, which focused on a deluge of posterior graffiti in St. Petersburg, but it is notable for being the one reference I could find to Blob Dylan in a mainstream outlet.
A January 31, 2020 blog post by Elly Uy at Outcast Media focused on Blob Dylan tags in St. Petersburg more specifically. After meditations on street art and tags generally, the author described discovering that Blob Dylan tags were not limited to St. Petersburg, but were seen throughout the country.
The Artistic Stylings of “Blob Dylan”
The email tipster who kindly contacted me noted that while he found examples of “Blob Dylan” graffiti in many cities while searching Instagram, there may be reason to believe that the graffiti was not all done by the original St. Petersburg Blob Dylan. From his testimony and other photographic evidence, it does appear that the original St. Petersburg Blob Dylan tags were done by the same individual as the Bushwick tag I came across. As our commenter suggested, let us look at the “o” in the Blob Dylan I found.
Note that this “O,” like the apparent originals, has a straight line cutting through it. Here, that line seems to extend from the center of the “B” at the end of “BLOB.”
A Collection of “Blob Dylan” Tags From 2019-2021
Now see these many “Blob Dylan” photos collected by “daniellealola” of Nature, Art, and Literary Musings. See original link and archive link. Scroll down to “7/18/19” for the terrific selection of Blob Dylan tags.
Despite the date of the post, the 29 “Blob Dylan” tag images range from 2019 to 2021. All of the images are from Tampa and New York City, with the vast majority from the latter. Interesting, despite the fact that the locations match up with where we know the original Blob Dylan tagger operates, careful observers will notice some variance in the stying of the “O.”
Six of the Dylan images have no cross through the “O” at all. Of the ones that do draw a line through the “O,” we also have variance. Some, like Tampa from May 7, 2019 and New York City from December 17, 2019 handle the “O” similarly to the tag I found in Bushwick. The majority from this set, however, style the line through the “O” like the rings orbiting Saturn. For example, note this July 28, 2020 Blob Dylan in Bushwick, which has the orbital “O” and a circle around the “A” in “Dylan.” I suppose it is plausibly is the same tagger – especially since these images are from his known haunts, but the style does not seem to be precisely the same as what I found in Bushwick.
An Instagram Profile Dedicated to Blob Dylan Sightings
I came across an entire Instagram account dedicated to Blob Dylan sightings. Fortunately, in a general sense, I do not have Instagram. However, that limits my ability to search Instagram posts. I do, however, have a web extension that redirects Instagram to Bibliogram, so I present to you an archived version of the profile through Bibliogram as of October 23, 2021. We can combine the images on that profile with another Instagram frontend showing results for “#blobdylan” – see original and archived.
The images, as of October 23, 2021, are nearly all from New York. The majority of “O’s” in “BLOB” have lines bisecting them, and there are a good number of the straight variety (as I saw in Bushwick) and the orbital variety, leading me to think that they may both be the same person. Numerous Blob Dylans have circles around the “A” in Dylan, but others have no circle, like the one I found.
One particular “BLOB” stood out – this May post from Domino Park in Williamsburg Brooklyn is strikingly similar to the one I found in Bushwick, right down to the choice of canvas and the color.
To the tipster’s point, many of the Blob Dylans from outside Florida and New York lack some of the most common characteristics in the tags from Brooklyn and St. Petersburg. For example, see this “Blob Dylan” photographed by “aestheticsofcrisis” in New Orleans in 2018.
Try as I may, I could not find much to add to the tipster’s tip about Blob Dylan. But between the tip, my own findings, and some additional research, we can conclude the following:
- The original Blob Dylan almost certainly started his tagging in St. Petersburg, Florida
- It appears that the original Blob Dylan either moved to Brooklyn, New York, or at least began spending significant time in Brooklyn, beginning in 2018 or 2019
- Blob Dylan tags have been seen throughout Brooklyn, but they appear to be most common in Bushwick and Williamsburg
- It seems likely that some of the Blob Dylans in New York City and St. Petersburg are copycats and that most (if not all) outside of these areas are copycats
- According to one Reddit poster from St. Petersburg who claims to know the identity of Blob Dylan, the tagger performed stand-up comedy in 2018 – the tipster who referred me to the Reddit did not find the idea implausible
- Although there is a musician who released an album as “Blob Dylan,” I found no evidence linking him to the Blob Dylan tags
While my efforts to add to the corpus of Blob Dylan knowledge were less successful than some of my other research projects, I enjoyed trying to find some more information and sharing with you the very interesting notes that I received through the tip. Since it is always possible that we may learn more about Blob Dylan in the future, I will keep our New Leaf Journal series open to the possibility of future articles looking into the matter, either based on what I come across or future tips.