Monday, November 16, 2009

Spray painting workshop

We finally had our spray painting workshop last Saturday, November 14. Jabari Elliott, (, a well-respected and established graffiti artist, was the one who conducted the workshop. He invited us in his house, which was also his studio. We were all amazed at his supply of art materials and artworks that he hung on the walls of his apartment.

He decided to show us around the few alleys in the city where there were a lot of very good graffiti art made by various artists including himself. He's such an animated character. He went on and explained the different groups of graffiti artists,
the disputes between these groups, the unofficial rules that go about with all real graffiti artists and many more.

I agree with what he told us about how the only works which no one ever dare touch are the ones that are very old or/and very good. People, at least most people, respect old graffiti art and the ridiculously good ones. All graffiti artworks are vulnerable to a lot of factors once they're out there on the public place. Others can vandalize on them or cover them up with another artwork. I can't help but admire the ones that managed to endure on the public walls of Toronto.

He then took us to visit his friend's studio. He called this friend, "Uber". He mentioned him earlier that day because he explained that his group of friends tribute each other by including their names on some of the artworks that they've done all over the city. The guy named Uber is apparently fixated on chickens. Should we ever come across a chicken, spray-painted on any wall in Toronto, we should know that they're all done by that one person. It's actually
pretty neat. The chicken is almost like his signature. Jabari's works have a certain distinct characteristic in them too. The caricature-ish quality, sometimes a bit gestural, and the contrast of the colours all combine into Jabari's style.
His friend's house was also interesting. He had a lot of artworks displayed on his walls. I couldn't help but ask them both a million questions because they're really in the current industry. We learned a lot from what they shared about their lifestyles as artists in the city. He recommended a few books that will definitely be useful to us, as visual artists.
It was getting dark so we had to move on and actually start trying out the spray paints. He demonstrated it first then let us try it out for ourselves. It reminded me so much of Zen Buddhism. In spray painting, we've observed that there is no room for hesitation. The motion and the speed is everything. There is no holding back to it. It is a forgiving medium for sure, because you can just spray paint over the ones you've done if you're not satisfied with them, but at the same time, the result is also very instant. An error can occur in a matter of less than a second. I got very fond of it because of that quality. It demands fearlessness from its user. Fearlessness during time pressure. You have to make up your mind where you're going to direct the can in just a matter of seconds.
The lessons we've learned from the experiences and stories they shared were really inspiring. Learning a new medium is always refreshing because all art materials/mediums have their own characteristic that not only we could use to do art, but also to learn from and perhaps apply in our own lives.

By the way! Thanks a lot, April, for driving us around that day. It made the workshop very convenient and smooth-sailing!
Also, thank you Flerida for the pictures. Des, I didn't use the pictures that you sent me because I don' t know how to flip it. Do you know how to do it? Thanks Des!

1 comment:

CLUTCH Volume II said...

thanks to April for taking the pictures in the first place! :D