Back in Bristol the street art energy fizzes. It makes me remember I want to be a graffiti artist. Sort of. Of sorts. I want to learn how to use spray paint, to create beautiful murals. I don't want to be arrested or get involved in graffiti signature wars though, Exit Through the Gift Shop is not where I'm at. And there are a few other barriers. Available space is one of them. Learning technique is another. So we opt to do a graffiti workshop.
We arrive on a Saturday morning. It's us (two seniors) and two children, the little girl has her dad in tow. And Tom Sturgess, our tutor. He's the real deal. An actual Bristol graffiti artist, taking time out from working on an installation at the 2023 Glastonbury Festival to do this course. Covered in masks, gloves, and white plastic aprons (looking like nurses as my daughter noted, looking at the photos), we're ready to dive in. Tentatively.
It isn't as easy as it looks. We already knew that. But it's also more. Multiple spray blending techniques, ways to hold the can (preferably not facing you I discovered, my face red under a fine dusting of blue), different can nozzles, different spray nozzle pressures that create different effects . . . It helps to be confident and fast and I'm, well, tentative.
Fortunately Tom is patient and prepared for that. He's got big boards set up with the word 'Bristol' already outlined across them and we each get our own letter to colour. And make our own stencil to add effects. Then he comes along and outlines it all, turning our spluttering efforts into something closely resembling real street art, masterfully adding inlines, 3-D drop shadows, shading and those cool highlighty ping-things. It integrates our different styles and we're super chuffed with the result. We feel very street.
So, should Banksy be worried? Ha! Maybe not. Yet. There's still the issue of needing wall space to practise and me being risk adverse and a total wuss. But our appreciation of street art has evolved exponentially. On our daily wanderings around Easton we're transfixed by the new offerings that appear, seemingly overnight, and the vast array of talent and techniques on show. This IS the art of now. Not locked away, cold and dead and too precious to touch in famous art galleries. But alive and fizzing, constantly changing, famous on the street.