Friday Arts Day:
Graffiti as an Art form by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Tonight as I write this I am sitting in a cafe in Warrandyte, “Now and Not Yet”, chatting with a brilliant international graffiti artist who is spray painting a mural on the wall outside the studio. Well its really three walls. A diminutive waif of a girl with a big heart and an even bigger talent. In fact I wonder how one so small can make something so huge and so amazing. For security reasons I cannot publish her name.
This princess has been doing graffiti since she was 15. She started on the skate ramp in the suburbs progressing to the local milk bar and train line. When she has indoor commissions she uses Sugar’s Spray paint made from sugar cain. It has minimal smell and is more environmentally friendly.
Sugar’s innovations in aerosol technology have lead to a unique formulation, which combines water with alcohol made from sugarcane to replace petroleum-based solvents. As a result, Sugar contains fewer Volatile Organic Compounds, meaning less toxins absorbed into the user’s body and less environmental impact.
The colours are amazing. What amused me the most was her very precious sack full of nozzles. These allowed her to control the pressure of the paint which enabled her to do fine detail or large spray areas. Don’t touch the nozzles. A bit like touching an artists favourite paint brushes.
She is one of the rare female artists that can do faces or murals which in the genre are called masterpieces. In this commission she also incorporates bubble style and tagging.
We met first to discuss the area which was quite dark and didn’t much distance either. We decided on bright colours. We chose a face to capture the attention and then used the hair which flowed into the other spaces to carry the theme for the elements of the cafe. I prepared all the walls and sent through pictures that I wanted added into the piece and together we worked over two nights.
Graffiti is a complex and political art form.
“Graffiti writing breaks the hegemonic hold of corporate/governmental style over the urban environment and the situations of daily life. As a form of aesthetic sabotage, it interrupts the pleasant, efficient uniformity of “planned” urban space and predictable urban living. For the writers, graffiti disrupts the lived experience of mass culture, the passivity of mediated consumption.” – Jeff Ferrell, Crimes of Style
Graffiti is the act of inscribing or drawing on walls for the purpose of communicating a message to the general public. The term comes from the Greek term “Graphein,” which means ‘to write.’ Graffiti has been around since men first started drawing pictures in caves (Reference). This art form began with the modern hip-hop graffiti movement in the late 1960’s.
There are three major types of modern graffiti art. The most basic type is a ‘tag,’ in which the artist writes his name in his own unique style. A more advanced form of tagging is a ‘throw-up,’ in which the artist may use bubble-letters or ‘wild style’ to create a more intricate design. The next type of graffiti is a ‘piece’ or ‘masterpiece,’ which usually depicts a scene or well-known characters with some sort of slogan. This type of graffiti often requires the collaboration of multiple artists. These are most often found on subway trains (often taking up an entire car) or on private walls (Reference).
“To pour your soul onto a wall and be able to step back and see your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your weaknesses, really gives you a deeper understanding of yourself and your own mental state.” – Coda
There is a line between art and crime. Graffiti started in New York as a social rebellion by artists who felt like they didn’t have voice. If you have money you can buy and advertisement, put up a sign, make a statement. If you are poor you are marginalised. Graffiti enables you to express yourself, to make a statement.
“If art like this is a crime, let god forgive me!” – Lee, member of Fabulous Five crew.
Of course you would not be impressed if someone tagged your new fence without permission and there are serious charges if the police apprehend you. However, it is possible to create graffiti legally. For example, if you have permission from the owner or it is a space designated as a legal graffiti space. In Melbourne there are whole streets designated to graffiti where artists gaining their confidence experiment and play. However don’t expect your art to stay up for too long because anyone can come along and spay over your work.
Lucky me got a box of spray paint. Whoop so look out family and friends, you know I love a can of spray paint.
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