Sunday, October 31, 2010

Graffiti As An Art Form

By Melanie Ullman
Graffiti is a term used to describe drawings or writings on a wall or public place. It is commonly seen in subways, alleys, or other forms of public property. Some people consider graffiti as vandalism, while others insist that it’s art.

While it’s true that graffiti is sometimes used as a weapon of subversion, it can actually be an immensely positive form of artistic expression. Crude graffiti sometimes involves cheap barbs at symbols of authority, or even vulgar messages. But sometimes graffiti can be a force for change. For example, shreds of the Berlin wall contain graffiti that expresses the feeling of the post-cold-war generation. Many of these artists have no experience of the wall except through history classes. They have no real concept of the pain, suffering, and sacrifice that the long slab of concrete represented. But they do have feelings about it, and these feelings can be understood by analysing the graffiti on that wall.

Another example of positive graffiti is the concept of reverse graffiti. It ranges from using your finger to write ‘wash me’ on a dirty car to scraping images into a dirt stained wall. The concept was popularised by street artists, and is sometimes called grime writing, dust tagging, or clean advertising. Commercial entities use it for guerrilla advertising. These artists suggested that instead of cleaning the accumulated dirt on public surfaces, they should simply modify it. They did this by using chisels, wire brushes, and other tools to scrape images into the grime. The images were mostly themes from nature like trees, animals, and fish. The clean patches of concrete contrasted the dirty patches to make calm, serene pictures.

Graffiti as we know it began in the 1960s, and mainly consisted of images painted on public walls using spray cans. The art is considered illegal, because permission was not sought. Today, some commercial companies hire graffiti artists to decorate their property. It is used as a form of advertising and sometimes promotes social causes. This form of graffiti is more easily recognized as art because of its legality.

Some argue that placing images on public walls is not necessarily a bad thing. From as far back as the Stone Age, people painted animals and other motifs onto rocks and cave walls. We generally assume that these paintings were done on the cave dwellings of the painters, so that wasn’t necessarily graffiti. The walls were private property and were painted with the permission of the owners.

But others argue that very fact that graffiti is illegal proves it’s an art. Many underground movements have produced some of the greatest art, and this is especially true in the music world. This argument is built up by mentioning the time factor. Many graffiti projects are done at night, because the artists don’t want to get caught by the authorities. Yet despite the time limits and the darkness, they are still able to produce immensely beautiful and intricate images. The ability to create such fine work under so much pressure is the mark of a true artist.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Been a while - back in action!

It's been quite a while since I last updated this blog. The main reason was that I had to put Graffitipix on hold - for a long time.

Much of the issue has been time. I've been caught up in other business ventures which have taken most of my time and energy. However, now that those other businesses are more-or-less stable, I'm able to get back to what I love - great artwork!

I've focused on graffiti art for many years, and have assembled a wonderful collection from Miss Van, Fafi, Banksy, and others. Most of my collection is in the way of 'private' graffiti photographs rather than canvases. I continue to collect photos of great art - and please feel free to continue contacting me if you have any great photo's that you'd like to talk about or sell.

One area that I had gotten into in a big way was Prison Art. In fact, I had started The Prison Art Project (http://www.prisonartproject.org), specifically to collect, show, and sell prison art.

Now that I have the time and opportunity to get back into the whole art thing, this is going to be where a good deal of my focus will be.

If you have any prison art, or correspond with anyone who is locked up and creates art, or has buddies on the inside that do, please contact me.

It's been a long time, and I really look forward to picking up where I left off, and then taking this whole thing way, way further.

I'll be completely revamping the Graffitipix.com website, as well as re-designing and re-launching The Prison Art Project. I still have what is probably one of the largest collections of prison outsider art in existence, at least on this side of the bars.

And so look here for more (and frequent) updates as I kick this whole thing back into gear. In other words, come back and visit soon, and often! If you have any questions, comments, or anything you like to communciate with me about, feel free to leave a comment below.

You can also expect that I will be posting some of the images, both graffiti art and prison art, on this blog. That should be beginning in the next coming weeks.

Thanks to all for your ongoing support!

Monday, January 19, 2009

How To Do Stenciled Graffiti

Stencils, which can be used in graffiti, can be found through the centuries, and this artwork is just as prevalent as acrylics, oil painting, and others. Stenciling can be made from simply a pair of scissors and a cardboard or plastic sheet.

Stenciled graffiti has been getting popular. This form is derivatives of typical spray-paint graffiti and is used to make tagging easier. The idea is to have a stencil and spray over the stencil, leaving a clean mark on the surface.

You can really become creative with this type of graffiti. For a basic form, all you need to do is print out or design and cut it open over a piece of paper or cardboard. Then hold up the design to your canvas and spray paint over it. Simple, right?

Now, here’s where you can have some fun. You can do print screens! Take your design that you wish to paint. You can run it through a computer program and isolate each color. You then print out each design in a layered format, with each color being predominant on each sheet. I would start with two or three different colors.

When you are ready to make your mark, you hold up one of the stencils, and spray it with the first color. This is usually a dark color like black. Then you place the next stencil on top of the picture and spray it the next color. Continue on with the next sheets until your picture is finished.

The effects are nice; you can create a clean and impressive picture with relatively no artistic talent whatsoever. Others may scoff at your work, but point out that it takes talent to create the stencils and to make the silk screen process work correctly.

Want museum-quality prints of some of the most gorgeous and sought-after graffiti art - at absurdly cheap prices? Check out the graffiti prints at GraffitiPix!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Banksy - Protest Graffiti Art!

Banksy is a protest graffiti artist. He is residing in Bristol, UK and his art features an alternative political view that goes against the mass media perspectives. Banksy has been featured in numerous magazines and galleries. His primary use of stencils has lead to groundbreaking artwork that many have tried to emulate and use as inspiration for their work.

Banksy is known for his paid works as well. He has been hired by numerous charitable organizations like Greenpeace to do work for their causes. His canvas works have been sold for up to 25,000 pounds. Banksy is knows for his reclusiveness and no one really knows who he is or his real history.

Banksy is a self published artist, he currently as of 2008 has 4 books out. His first is in black and white called “Banging your head against a brick wall” This was followed by his first full color book, “Existentialism”. Later in 2004, he published his first book called “Cut it out”. His latest book “Wall and piece” came out in 2006.

Banksy’s art is unique. His pictures are all painted from odd perspectives and no one really knows much about him and how he does his work. He does comment and talk about his craft on his website. It’s speculated that he was either too slow for freehand graffiti and would get caught, or he just was not good at freehand.

His work has been seen around the world. His work has shown up after hurricane Katrina on derelict houses. Banksy has been known for his outrageous demonstrations. At the Glastonbury festival, Banksy arranged the portable toilets into a Stonehenge formation. At the art museum that housed the Mona Lisa, Banksy went and put up a replica picture in the men’s room with Lisa having a yellow smile on her face.

Banksy prefers his identity hidden, he has refused receiving many awards to keep up his mystery. All we can do is sit back and enjoy his work, and see what new feats he will come up with.

You can purchase large, museum-quality prints of Banksy's art, starting under $30, at Graffitipix.com!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Graffiti Styles

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There are many styles of graffiti art in the world. The most basic style was random carvings or paintings that are depictions of the artist’s life, ideals, or values. Through out history, from cave paintings to depictions of life in Pompeii, graffiti gives archeologists and sociologists an idea of the mindset of the general population. Even though in modern cultures, graffiti is considered vandalism, it still leaves a clear message of the education, political mindset, and overall vision of the artists.

The first kind and most popular graffiti is called “tagging” or “bombing”. This was created in the early 70’s when the artist would develop a signature and a handle. Tak182 was the first one credited to start the “bombing” movement. Being a foot messenger, he would ride subways and mark the trains he would ride with his signature “Tak182 was here” The popularity of bombing grew and an artist’s reputation was increased with the number of places (and more difficult) they could tag.

Subway cars were the prime canvas for New York graffiti artists until the anti-graffiti movement in the 80’s. People would break into the stations when the subway cars were stationed for the night and have time to do elaborate murals and even decorate a full car.

This was the start of the “Piece” or masterpiece. An artist would use three or more colors to create block or bubble letters for their signature, along with background images and even some characters to represent the artist.

Another form of graffiti is the “throw-up”. This is similar to the “tag” but uses a few more colors to outline and highlight the work. Speed was the key, as the artist usually does not want to get caught.

The last most common form is stencils. The artist usually will create a stencil from cardboard and will hold it up to their “canvas” and spray over it. This from requires no real artistic talent, but it does make up for speed and intricacy of design.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Miss Van - The Original Graffiti Girl!

Miss Van is a graffiti artist that has been around the graffiti scene since 1991.Born in 1973, Miss Van has been working on her craft since 1991, when she turned 18. Vanessa Alice Bensimon was born in Toulouse, France and has been in love with the art form since she was a child. Currently, she tours the world. Miss Van showcases her artwork in many countries and promotes her craft to as many people as she can.

In 1993, she finally discovered her unique techniques and her preferred medium. She is well renowned in the graffiti world and is an iconic figure for women across the world. When Miss Van hit the scene, she paved the way for women artists in France. Her medium is acrylics. Her style is very cartoonish and charming. Soft features of well rounded women are charming. As does in Europe, a lot of her paintings of women are in the nude form. This is because censorship and nudity are not as taboo for art forms as they are in other nations.

Most of these figures are of women in various moods or stages in life. There are many websites that offer Miss Van prints for reasonable prices. They will ship to various parts of the world and are a great way for someone to familiarize themselves with the wrok of such a great artist. Wall paintings of Miss Van’s work can be found in many places in Toulouse, but she has been hired to paint other areas as well. Currently she showcases her art in a gallery. Her website will show times and places for the viewings, so if you wish to meet the artist and view her work up close and personal, there might be a viewing near you!

NOTE: You can order Miss Van (and Fafi, Nina, Banksy, etc.) prints and receive them in time for Christmas! Go to: http://www.graffitipix.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Graffiti Art of Banksy

Banksy is a protest graffiti artist. He is residing in Bristol, UK and his art features an alterative political view that goes against the mass media perspectives. Banksy has been featured in numerous magazines and galleries. His primary use of stencils has lead to groundbreaking artwork that many have tried to emulate and use as inspiration for their work.

Banksy is known for his paid works as well. He has been hired by numerous charitable organizations like Greenpeace to do work for their causes. His canvas works have been sold for up to 25,000 pounds. Banksy is knows for his reclusiveness and no one really knows who he is or his real history.

Banksy is a self published artist, he currently as of 2008 has 4 books out. His first is in black and white called “Banging your head against a brick wall” This was followed by his first full color book, “Existentialism”. Later in 2004, he published his first book called “Cut it out”. His latest book “Wall and piece” came out in 2006

Banksy’s art is unique. His pictures are all painted from odd perspectives and no one really knows much about him and how he does his work. He does comment and talk about his craft on his website. It’s speculated that he was either too slow for freehand graffiti and would get caught, or he just was not good at freehand.

His work has been seen around the world. His work has shown up after hurricane Katrina on derelict houses. Banksy has been known for his outrageous demonstrations. At the Glastonbury festival, Banksy arranged the portable toilets into a Stonehenge formation. At the art museum that housed the Mona Lisa, Banksy went and put up a replica picture in the men’s room with Lisa having a yellow smile on her face
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Banksy prefers his identity hidden, he has refused receiving many awards to keep up his mystery. All we can do is sit back and enjoy his work, and see what new feats he will come up with.