Stencils and Spraypaint

October 1, 2012




When I was 15 I used to go to my local bookstore and thumb through a book about train graffiti. I was too young and broke to ever buy it but I was obsessed with full flood photos of train cars in New York covered in tags. I could stare at each page for hours. Okay – it was probably minutes – but still. It set my imagination on fire thinking about what it would take to execute a piece of art on that scale. Around the same time my brother introduced me to Shepard Fairey’s work by covering his trumpet case (we were total band nerds in highschool – I played the French horn for seven years) in Obey the Giant stickers. I thought it was so cool.

I distinctly remember trying to figure out how I could possibly express myself with graffiti. I fantasized about covering the almost non-existent public transportation in my small suburban town with fantastic murals. I was probably bold enough to do it – I just never had anything to say. And the logistics of that sort of operation always made me sleepy.

My curiosity for this illegal form of public art has never waned. While in Europe this summer it was particularly fascinating to see these modern day equivalents of cave paintings juxtaposed on amazing works of architecture dating back to the 11th century. And these days I’m especially attracted to stencil and sticker graffiti – the execution is typically far more clever and designerly than the traditional train tagging.

What do you think about graffiti? Yay or nay? My vote is yay.

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