InspirationStyles and trends

From street art to home art: decorating with graffiti

Graffiti tags and spray-painted slogans can look unsightly and even mildly intimidating to some of us when they crop up in our local neighbourhood, but there is little doubt that genuine street art is a creative phenomenon in the UK at the moment. Art speculators are tearing down walls that have been adorned with a Banksy, shopkeepers are having their shutters or shop-fronts covered with the latest in spray-painted trends and colleges are even running courses studying the style and history of graffiti.

Street art is here to stay and the UK is at the very centre of it, so it should not come as a surprise when your children or grandchildren announce that they want their bedroom decorated in a graffiti style. You may even want to indulge in the style yourself for a games room or other space in your home.

Image Source: Apartment Therapy

The simplest way to get the graffiti look is to hand-spray some art in the room that you want to be decorated. DIY superstores will carry spray paint. You can even use the kind of paint you get at shops that sell car accessories, spare parts and oil (although it is always best to wear a mask when spraying). There are also specialist brands that graffiti artists swear by and argue over, such as Krylon and Ironlak but you will need to be a skilled, not to mention steady-handed, artist to achieve this. It may look easy but great graffiti skills take years to learn.

If you lack the necessary freehand skills then you may want to go with a stencil, which you can either make yourself or download from the myriad websites that offer everything from superheroes to sports stars and lettering. YouTube is filled with videos of how to make a stencil yourself and the process is quite simple once you grasp the basics and realise that your image has to be bold and avoid small, fiddly lines.

Image Source: Pinterest

Most downloadable stencils allow you to simply mimic the street style of Banksy and other artists, although usually without the satirical, political commentary associated with their work. Of course, you can probably find stencils with similar messages if you look for them. Simply paint the walls in bold, plain colours and spray through your stencils with black or white paint for a look that would not be out of place in the most hip corners of our cities. Teenagers should love it and it certainly won’t break the bank. It also allows your youngsters to simply paint over stencils as they tire of them, before replacing the images with those of their latest film idol or music star.

If you have a larger budget then you can hire your own graffiti artist to do the job for you, leaving you with an original piece of art that will really stand out. When it comes to finding your artist you could head down for the nearest underpass or train yard in the twilight to see who is hanging around with a spray can, but it may be far safer to ask around!

Image Source: Houzz

Arts supplies shops may be able to give you suggestions and you can always scour the local newspaper for mention of artists engaged in community projects or ask shopkeepers who have used graffiti on their shop fronts. Local artists who make a living by spray-painting their designs will also have websites such as Paint My Panda that display examples of their work.

Once you have found the artist that you like, you can then discuss what you would like to have done. You are hiring them, so it is up to you whether you want to give them artistic freedom, suggest some designs or ask them to create a more toned-down version of street art. Showing examples of what you like will help but you should remember that part of the joy of street art is the free-style expression that it allows. If you trust the artist you have hired then you should end up with something spectacular, unique and well worth the outlay.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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