I decided that to celebrate my 29th birthday that I would do some graffiti art. It is unlike any other art I have ever done, I wanted to do something different. I shared this thought with a friend who encouraged me to see “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which is a documentary about the graffiti art world and a handful of the well-known artists in the field. It highlights an artist named Banksy, whose work is well known but who he is remains a mystery.
It is now staggering for me to think of doing any graffiti art after having seen these accomplished graffiti artists. It felt like being exposed to Michelangelo when you’re eight and then being told to go draw. The gap between where they are and where I will be when I try feels so tremendous it is difficult to imagine trying without feeling incredibly frustrated. Or, having been recently inspired, that I will not simply regurgitate what my mind has recently absorbed. Regurgitating the work of another is an easy way to stumble, even if it comes from a place of passion and admiration for another. I’m a novice artist again only I have the mind of someone who has performed for years. Graffiti art is more than picking up a spray can.
In my work I am rarely about statements. I consider myself a storyteller. Would Banksy like my work? I don’t know. There is no political agenda or clever phrase in my work. I construct an image, a moment and I share it. There is no commentary about the government or freedom. I find I feel awkward when someone asks me what made me paint what I painted… or why I painted it. I cannot construct a great explanation. The first animal I owned was a stray cat named Rogue who I kept for many years. One day she went out to catch mice (she was a fantastic killer) and never came back. Days and weeks went by. The painting I did in response to her loss was of a Windmill titled “Waiting for the Wind.”
I cannot explain how my emotional place caused me to create that work. It certainly says nothing about “Hey, I lost a pet I cared deeply about.”
Graffiti art, from the bigger names in the field, is much about the statement or destruction of the statement…or making no statement (so that’s a statement?). For me to really step into this other genre of art I must consider that. It isn’t about me making a tree stencil and putting a tree on a building to let someone enjoy the story, the moment and image of a tree… it’s about me putting a tree on a building that makes pulp out of trees. Photo realism calls for capturing a scene in a manner as realistic as a photo. Graffiti art is a raw communication with the audience. I have never made the attempt to express my thoughts or agenda to the audience…
… what do I want to say?