My Love Affair With Graffiti
by Marieli Delgado
Humanity has been doing graffiti since we were cavemen doing handprints on cave walls. Graffiti is defined by the Merrian-Webster dictionary as writing or drawing made on a public structure without permission, but what do they know? Unless you can't tell, I love graffiti. In a time where computers have taken over the world and everything is about perfection, I find the rarity and imperfections of the handmade refreshing and beautiful. I can't really pinpoint where my love for graffiti first started. I was born in the early '80s where solid, bold lines with vibrant colors like those found in the artworks of artists such as Keith Herring were the style. I believe Herring was a major artist that influenced how graffiti was viewed and made it a legit art form.
In the 80's I was exposed to graffiti, but I didn't really start practicing graffiti until many years later in middle school in the '90s. That was my rebellion phase, and during that time the romanticism of gangster rap and hip-hop culture was in full swing. I started listening to Snopp Dogg, dressing in baggy clothes, and doing graffiti. Being that I was very artistically inclined, all the kids wanted me to tag up their notebooks and book bags. It was a very fun time, but I focused so much on graffiti, that eventually I started feeling like I was forgetting how to draw things other than lettering. So when that happened I vowed to myself not to do graffiti anymore. I just focused on drawing and painting and when it was time for me to go to college I knew that there was the only thing I wanted to study and that was art.
In college, I fell in love with graffiti again. It's more like I fell in love with a graffiti artist. He told me that he used to really liked drawing, but when he started getting into graffiti, he did so much of it that he forgot how to draw. What can I say, I fell hard... I started loving graffiti again. I wanted to catch up for all those lost years and immerse myself in graffiti again.
I started "borrowing" books about graffiti, I started learning about the origin, the different styles, the rep, the rules. I started being a fan of different writers. Some of my favorites are CED, Pose II, and Aqua... I've seen some of their legal walls in person, and it's nothing more than amazing. I wish I had my pictures, I'll post them when I find them, but in the meantime I'll post what I can find from the internet.
When I finished Community College, I transferred to Florida State, and that's when I really started getting deep into art and graffiti. I remember I had to do a report on my favorite art form and guess what I chose for my topic??? You guessed it... Graffiti. I stood up in front of the whole class and schooled them. I began with saying, “a lot of people don’t consider graffiti as a true art form, but I think it says a lot about a person when they are willing to risk going to jail in order to fulfill that deep-rooted need to express themselves and put themselves out there through art...”. I dropped some golden nuggets that day. I went on the computer projector and shared some of my favorite underground websites such as grapevine and artcrimes.org... I struck a chord that day, because after that graffiti started appearing all over campus.
When I graduated and moved back to my hometown of Kissimmee, Florida; graffiti started really going mainstream. Artists such as Twist, and Obey really started gaining notoriety, and then there was Banksy. When he came out with his documentary, "Exit Through The Gift Shop", it was like a bomb went off in the art world. Banksy is one of my all-time favorite graffiti artist. He has taken the underground world of graffiti and made it mainstream, but he did it with a purpose. He showed the mystery and the love for art graffiti writers posses. He also exposed all the bull behind the art world. He has been able to make a mockery of the pretentious, and it's awesome.
I also admire how he uses his platform to bring awareness to all the inhumane things going on in the world. Like when he started bombing the Israel West Bank Wall.
"Stop making the wall so beautiful, when it represents something so ugly" an onlooker on the street yelled while he was making his installation. Banksy is going to be known as a forefather for shedding light on the current art movement going on in the world. In a world where people are so jaded, where everything has been done, where a person who has no business doing art, can pick up a paintbrush and call himself an artist and make millions by being able to Shepard the sheep; there is a movement going on... I call it The Garbage Art Movement. It is so subtle you don't even notice it. He made a commentary of this in his documentary when he helped his friend Mr. Brainwash become a famous artist. I mean, there are many legit artists out there like David Choe, Shepard Fairly, Risk Rock, even Mr. Brainwash that deserves their fame. But then there is the garbage, it's all about having connections with the who's who of people who decide "what's hot". Graffiti is more than just illegal writing, and Banksy proves this, and he does this all with a simple one layered stencil. It's amazing!
If you would like to see some of my stencils be sure to check out my latest collection The World Is Yours in my online gallery of the original artwork.
Later My Art Lovers!