After a recent move to East London, I’ve been exposed to a crafty array of street art – some a little sketchy (geddit?) and some just purely mind-blowing. There’s a few factors making street art a little more intense than normal art; for one it’s most likely completed in poor light given the secretive nature of the deed, it’s done in haste with the potential to be caught at any moment, and it’s done standing against a perpendicular surface, which means potential for dripping, and awkward angles.So with my new-found interest and awe in such doodles, I headed to the Graffik Art Gallery in Nottinghill Gate for a graffiti workshop. (£40 for the course, £5 extra for the canvas which you’ll probably want to keep)
We arrived at the gallery, went out back and crowded into a little outdoor space. We were given baggy paint-covered ‘protective’ T-shirts to slip over our clothes, as our rather dry host got to work explaining the different types of graffiti.
Most styles evolved from a necessity to do as much prep work as possible before hitting the street.
‘Tagging’ – essentially branding your name around town in a single quick colour but with your own unique style.
‘Stenciling’ – preparing a more detailed image by way of a stencil to allow a rapid application once on the street. This style was made famous by Banksy though is debated by some on the credibility of it as graffiti as most of the work is done at home.
‘Stickers’ – Taking stenciling to the next level by creating the whole image and pasting it up. Just lazy really.
A few more stem from the above but generally follow similar principles. With a bit of background it was explained that we were to make our own stencils using the card, images and pencils in front of us, and would be painting a small canvas with our designs.
After we’d drawn out our designs, we were armed with a scalpel and surgeon mask to start cutting our stencils while others began spraying their backgrounds. Like staying warm in winter, the art of graffiti is all about layering. Begin with a background, spray out your stencil with different colours and intensities. Then shift it slightly and use a contrasting colour and respray to create a shadow. And voila:
It’s fun to learn if you want to give it a go, but it’s a far cry from what really makes the work of street artists so commendable.