Graffiti- my perspective through experiences in my actual life:in progess

Art is known to most as oil paints, or water colors on a white canvas, creating beautiful images with precise brush strokes. To me Art is more than that; I don’t have boundaries like a piece of canvas, I view objects in daily life perfect for creation of beautiful art. A brick wall is not only a structure but a canvas for creating a more exciting image. And my tool of trade is not a brush or easel only the finest quality aerosol paint can. My form of art has been for the last 3 years, graffiti art. Not the vandalistic graffiti art commonly associated with gangs and violence but a form of visual expression creating art out of words and complicated background features. All though very few forms of graffiti art are accepted by society yet I still find it to be one of the strongest growing art forms today.                                                   The graffiti art world is blooming immensely as well as the products we use. Artists can order specialized cans online in any color they want. There are also social networks and forums just for graffiti artists.  Many U.S. cities have adopted the concept of graffiti and have set old abandoned walls aside for legal graffiti art. Saint Louis, Missouri is home to one of those places. In 2001 the city held an event called Paint Louis where many different graffiti artists traveled across the world to paint their piece across the floodwall right by the river just seconds from the arch. With graffiti becoming more accepted and artists becoming more well equipped the possibilities for what graffiti artists create are endless. Some people say that all of it looks the same but that statement alone demonstrates the naivety and lack of perception of detail of that person. Any two artists could paint the same piece and do it differently with different qualities that would set the two apart. This alone is most likely why the art is growing, the amount of individuality one can display in their work.Graffiti at its roots started before modern man. Hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt and cave paintings of early Indians have both been compared to modern graffiti. Even though graffiti may have started so long ago the start of the most modern form of graffiti was much more recent. The first reports of mass amounts of graffiti started in the subways of New York. Artists would “tag” train cars, walls, seats, and signs. They would also paint quick “throwies” on similar places. Graffiti was first just thought of as vandalistic growth of underclass teenagers trying to gain recognition.  Many artists when caught are faced with thousands of dollars in fines and possibly jail time. But this has not been enough to terminate graffiti art, in fact quite the opposite. Many people are drawn to graffiti art due to the fact that it is illegal and thus more rare and intriguing, like when people swarm to a fight. Another form of graffiti arts growth relies on a genre of music that was blooming at the same time-hip hop.  Many hip hop artists were drawn to graffiti art using it on albums covers and clothing even becoming aerosol artists themselves. This was a huge breakthrough with graffiti art and its long path to acceptance into mainstream society. Although I favor the legal art side of graffiti there is another side that is also playing a role in creating a place for graffiti. Some gangs have adopted graffiti as a form of marking territory and have been known to cause injury and death to those who don’t abide by the signs. This is why graffiti is so misunderstood, it is being thrown into this world of drugs, crime, and murderers and having society label it as trash. This too shows fact of perseverance and determination of the many artists trying to create a place for graffiti.Graffiti itself is such a broad term which can be defined even further. Graffiti appears in different forms and is also made with different techniques.  For example there is word art character art, and sculpture art to name a few. Word art is the writers “name” painted with creative detail and changes to shape, size, color, and style. Characters are also very popular for artists to paint using spray paint, a stencil, or a giant sticker. Sculpture art appears in public places and is usually very eye-catching, examples can be found in subways of New York. A typical graffiti artist will have multiple pieces drawn up at any time; they have different terminology for styles within their own art.  Every artist has their name in graffiti your name is the basis of your art because you want people to know your name. The only way to gain this recognition is by getting up, getting up is the dream sought after by most graffiti artists which in short mean getting famous. Artists create tags, throwies, and pieces to display their name as much in quantity as quality. Tags are normally a shorthand one dimensional writing of the artists name, throwies are a defined as a quick yet stylish two to three color painting of the artists name that is normally done in one motion. And finally pieces, this is where the artist can truly separate himself and gain recognition by all. These are usually three dimensional multicolored wild intricate masterpieces of graffiti art. The artist tries to make every piece his best trying to be the best and get up.  To become a true artist you need an arsenal of tags, throwies, and pieces, with practice the artist will gain better can control and will be able to give their work more detail. All good artists need to complete these tasks are markers, spray paint, paint can caps, and a creative mind.Graffiti would not be half of what it is today if it weren’t for the companies providing quality products. Montana is a spray paint manufacturer worldwide they provide different pressure systems, (low-high pressure, low pressure, high pressure, mid pressure), paint formulas, and can sizes. Belton Molotov is also a very high quality paint company that specializes in very low pressure can design specific to more detailed painting. Newer companies have been coming forward more and more providing a great market for the aspiring artist. Another tool these companies provide for artists are markers. These markers aren’t like the Crayola markers kids use, these things are PERMANENT! Made from secret compounds using tattoo ink and tar, these markers can be used on literally all surfaces and come in different sizes, colors, and nib shapes. Montana makes markers called Montana hardcore ink markers; Krink is a marker specific company that produces the most potent and durable ink markers. Other forms of graffiti such as sticker art use more conventional materials. Most sticker artists actually go to a Wilcoxen, or FedEx-kinkos and print out large sticker prints, then pay the manager, and finally roll them onto a wall using urethane adhesive and a paint roller. Even though there is a market for these products many people don’t have a way to acquire them. As an alternative many artists turn to cheap spray paint from a hardware store and markers made from bingo markers and tattoo ink. Whether you’re using the belton or a cheap can of krylon the real difference is made in the skill of the painter and the work put forward to progress in the quality of your work. Graffiti artists also use different caps for their cans that effect the amount and size of the paint that leaves the can. This helps the artist make thin lines, fat lines, light lines ,and dark lines, ultimately creating more detailed work. Most caps are universal between caps but few are can specific and will not work with odd cans.
Graffiti inspired me at a very young age. I remember when I was six years old sitting in the car on my way to a cardinals game. I saw graffiti art on a passing train so I asked my parents what it was. They said it was graffiti and that it was a shame for such good art to be categorized with vandalism an violence. Ever since that day I can’t help staring at trains as they pass in hope to see some inspiring graffiti art. I first started painting with one of my best friends when I was 15 years old. At first I only painted objects at my house and skate ramps my friends had, but the more I painted the more I wanted to paint on walls, and trains, and create massive murals. This dream didn’t come true until I was 17, my friend and I found an old decommissioned train in earth city. Seeing as how the train was not of any use we painted it, my friend painted “lucky”, in an assortment of blues, and I painted “what”, in a yellow fade style. We felt amazing, the whole time our adrenaline was pumping and the only thing on our minds was our art and not getting caught. At last we had finished our first train graffiti, we were ecstatic and could hardly contain ourselves. I never knew if I was really going to do graffiti but from that point forward I haven’t been able to stop. I draw every day, trying new styles, new words, different colors, and even drawing people’s names for money so I could buy paint. My dream of creating graffiti wouldn’t truly be realized until I graduated from high school and moved to Grand Blvd in Saint Louis, the heart of Midwest graffiti. Saint Louis, Missouri is a very well known city for a number of different things. For example, the Arch is a famous landmark often visited bt tourist, along with busch stadium where some of the best base ball games in the world are played. but for me i only had only attraction to this place-Graffiti art. Saint Louis is home to some of the most well known names in graffiti in the whole U.S., tlok, ynot, durag, rat-fag, and many more. i attended saint louis university my first semester of my freshman year of college, i lived several miles away from campus down grand boulevard. where i lived graffiti covered the walls of rundown buildings and old trains, and i loved it i felt like i was surrounded by amazing art and decided i must contribute to its beauty. paint was a rarity for me being on a college students budget, but when i could acquire any amount of paint i was out on the street perfecting my style and loving every minute. my buddy and i were getting better and were able to get better paint and at this point we started to realize this might be more then a a hobby, this way of art was becoming our way of life. We started a small two man crew together to start getting recognition and we painted at all the known spots in saint louis. this is when we realized that the bad, gang related side of graffiti was not a myth, as we had been painting on other crews territory without realizing the risk. Soon we found other crew tags and markings over all of our paintings and we knew this was not a good sign. As the weeks passed the crew was writing threats to us on walls less then a block from my house, i knew i had to do something to stop this so i found a forum online that had alot of that crews members online and writing in forum threads about this “feud” i posted a message stating my naivety of crossing and expressed my interest was strictly arstistic. after a couple hours of back and forth messaging i had calmed the crew and in fact gained their respect as a writer. My early adventures behind me, i decided i would be more cautious in the future and not disrespect other crews and endanger my life.
Graffiti has a hidden competition factor involved, and by this i dont mean style or colors, but the riskier the place you paint the more respect you earn. Grand Blvd is home to many paintings that are placed so high it is almost unfathomable to replicate in the same spot. Kingshighway may be home to some of the most treacherous art in the state. i decided i must see these paintings up close and called my buddy to accompany me on this adventure. we arrived at the building and saw exactly why people said it was impossible. every where that we could find a way up like climbing a pipe or small handles were covered in razor wire and barbwire. after a couple different unsuccessful approaches we decided to walk around the whole building and look for a way up.we waked for twenty minutes and every time we found a way up it was covered with the same thing. finally almost all the to the beginning we find and alley way behind some local houses that connected to the building. Up on the wall was a fire escape untouched by any kind of trap, we were relieved to finally find a way up this building to see this graffiti so we took off down the alley. about halfway to the fire escape two giant German Shepard come storming out behind a corner at us with great aggression. we changed direction and took off away from the dogs with a new found adrenaline fueling our actions. we ran, and ran but the dogs kept coming and we were coming to the first pipes we had found with the wire covering and we knew we had to get up there. we both just jump onto the pipe and ran up the pipe 6 feet to the roof and watched as the dogs stopped in fear. we didn’t wait long before sprinting across the roof and jumping back down to the ground where our car was parked and got inside as fast as possible. once in the car we had time to catch our breath and take in what just happened. we started talking about running up the pipe and realized our pants and shoes were destroyed from the wire and we had cuts all over our legs. amazingly the adrenaline fueled our escape but did not make us invincible, but we were safe and thats was enough to make the day a success.
I consider my graffiti to be art and dont mean any harm in my actions but sometimes the law doesn’t see eye to eye with that theory. In my second month of living in Saint Louis my friend and i had acquired some more paint and decided the conditions were great for a painting. so like always we went during the day to find a good spot and once found we would return when the lights weren’t present. awaiting sunset at my house we practiced different styles we might try on the wall until we agreed on one together. after hours it was time so we gathered our paint in a back back and started walking to our wall. we arrived and started painting and quickly found this spot was not desolate at night. A group of teenagers walked by and saw what we were doing and decided to watch for awhile until we told them we didn’t wan to draw any attention and so they left with a bit of an attitude. my friend thought they may call the cops just to be ignorant but i told him we should just finish and get home. so we continued to paint and finally came to and end. as we packed up the paint we could hear sirens and we had suspicions of where it was headed, without a seconds hesitation we took off down the street only to jump behind a building as the car turned the corner and screeched to a halt in front of our painting. we didn’t wait we turned behind the building and ran down the alley to hit a dead end with wooden fence and barbwire keeping us out of a huge industrial yard. we saw the cars light turn down the road 15 feet from us so using all my force i kicked down a wooden section of the fence and we entered the yard and took off across the distance to the gate at the other side. the gate had a gap underneath of it just large enough to crawl through on your belly so my buddy and i both squeezed threw and took off across yards and hopping fences until we reached my house. we instantly hid the paint in the ceiling of the basement and threw all our clothes in the laundry and washed our hands. after an hour our nerves had settled and we talked about our close call and decide once again to use this escapade as a lesson in future pieces.


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