The Streets Are Talking
Graffiti School, is first and foremost, a 'pay to play' place for me to go on springtime Saturday mornings to learn “The Art of The Spray”. As an artist and designer with a passion for typography and lettering, graffiti has always impressed me. My personal repertoire of artistic skillsets includes just about every medium I could get my hands on, literally and figuratively. I can paint and draw just about anything with just about anything, but a single can of cheap spray paint was only something I picked up at a hardware store to restore an old wagon or a rusty piece of outdoor furniture. Besides The CorkYard at TerraCycle, you can see the work being created by these guys, and women too for that matter, in just about every city in the world. When you get up real close and see the attention to detail it's mind-boggling how this is possible with spray paint. As it turns out, it's all about can control. The amount of finger to cap pressure, distance to the wall, wrist action, layering of colors, and of course the quality of the paint itself. They may refer to themselves as writers, but they are artists through and through. The idea of being both - an artist AND a writer - well that just had me written all over it.
It was during one of my early explorations of the old Banking District of downtown LA when I found myself at a small gallery of graffiti art, called Crewest. It was owned and operated by ManOne and it featured many of his own pieces, t-shirts, markers and caps. Not baseball caps, but spray paint caps. Color-coded replacement nozzles to adjust the flow of paint from your spray paint can. This was an eye-opener for me, as this seemed to be 'the trick.' After explaining to ManOne that I was in town to take a local team from a global customer on a walking tour through the cool and trendy area of Los Angeles for inspiration, he closed the shop early and together we went a little further east to The Arts District. This would've been around 2005 and that area was easily ten years from gentrification, but you could smell it bubbling under the surface. The same way I could smell it in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2003, Shoreditch, East London in 2006, and Wynwood District of Miami in 2008. These neighborhoods, and everyone just like them around the world, were where the artists lived, worked, and sprayed. In other words, if they paint it, you will come. In many ways, I'm guilty for being as much a part of the process as the real estate developers, only they took the profits while all I took were pictures.
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