For our first project, we were assigned the task of spray painting our names. At first, I wanted to work with mostly muted, relaxing colors like light greens and blues, but soon realized (actually after looking at a pair of Nikes I had just gotten) that those muted colors I loved seemed to need a pop of brightness and contrast to truly stand out and flow effortlessly. So, after a quick trip to Walmart and with a huge sharpie and a somewhat excessive amount of spray cans on hand ranging from my original muted blues to vibrant orange and pink (as well as a small white and small black can for details), I began working.
My spray painting arsenal (minus a few mini cans)
Following the advice of this weeks artist, Maccabee Shelley, I decided to experiment with the paint until I had enough comfort with it to feel (at least somewhat) confident in trying to make my final piece. This, of course, led to some horrible looking pieces of extremely colorful cardboard, but the process of creating them was actually incredibly fun. As I had never worked with spray paint before, I expected it to be somewhat easy (as many experienced taggers make it look much easier than it truly is), but with what ended up being two broken nozzles, it was actually incredibly hard to make what I envisioned come to life.
So the first attempt went well.
After trying for quite a while to force my vision to appear, I realized I needed to work with the materials rather than attempting to change them. So, instead of going for crisp lines and perfect fill ins, I opted for more of a sprayed, messy feel that I actually ended up liking more.
Some of my many attempts to master spray painting on boxes and cheap poster board were somewhat crazy (yes one is drying in a tree). I even tried tagging my signature, which I thought actually went fairly well. But, I had a problem with running off my “canvas” at times.
After many practices on random pieces of cardboard and cheap poster papers, I also realized I had a problem with getting my entire name onto my slightly condensed canvas, and with some second-grade style I decided to shorten my name (by one letter, but it still helped) to avoid running out of room. I actually liked the slightly more abstract representation of my name; it made it feel more like an actual graffiti tag since they use nicknames and things more often than their true names.
My favorite was actually one of my practices on a disassembled cardboard box (also the first time I used “Chris10” to avoid going off the edge).
So, with a base of sprayed out light blue and neon pink, I used the weird hippie bubble letters I’ve become used to doing with pencil and paper and sort of, well, winged it. I found I actually liked the spontaneity of spray painting, even when the outcome sometimes looked crushed or distorted in ways I would typically obsessively erase and fix. There was a sort of therapy and release in knowing what was done was done, and adding or fixing things typically was counterproductive. It made it more fun to make something for just the sake of making it, not being too incredibly worried how it would turn out (although that did still play a small role). I got to focus on the action of creating rather than the ending product; it made the process more for me and more, as I said before, fun and enjoyable.
My “final” work and super artsy hands (the paint refuses to wash off)
Overall, the “art” I made may not be very appealing to others, but I feel as though Ive accomplished something. I had expected to somehow magically be good at this thing I had never tried before, but through actually trying it I’ve gained a huge appreciation for those who have mastered the craft and make truly amazing things, especially in rushed circumstances and in very public areas. The entire process has sparked the artistic side of me that has been laying slightly dormant for the past few months. Maybe next time I plan a trip to Venice, I’ll bring a few friends and cans of paint and actually try out the art wall with this new, exhilarating art form. Until then, I’m happy to keep spraying ripped up boxes in the backyard and giving the grass a touch of neon.