Close to where I live has to be one of the richest sources of artwork in the least likely of locations – the “Graffiti Bridge” in Broadstone, Dorset attracts a number of artists around the area to showcase their stuff and it’s an ever-evolving canvas that changes almost nightly.
Graffiti is something I’ve always loved, and I think it’s where my curiosity of messing about with lettering and pictures stems from. Or perhaps it was my odd fascination for old Letraset catalogues which were always read from cover to cover…who knows. The truth probably contains a pinch of both.
So for a fan of design, typography and colour, having an an endless conveyor belt of new ideas is a gift. The sheer variety is seemingly limitless – it could be a piece themed from Frozen that blends into a completely random blue elephant, with another unrelated concept splintering from that and so on. The only consistency is the quality, which is remarkably high. Some of these pieces are very, very good. Some of them are outstanding.
The purity of street art is special because it is created for no other reason than the enjoyment of making something – It hasn’t been made for anyone other than the artist and what he wanted to create, something free from rules and necessities, which for me is it’s magic ingredient. It didn’t need a brief. It didn’t have to work to a budget. Graffiti reminds me of what life was like before the real world of mortgages and gas bills kicked in, and perhaps that’s why I have such a soft spot for it. It’s like a portal back to simpler times, when we knocked up artwork simply for a laugh.
And it’s deceptively hard to get it right. As you will see from the few pieces I’ve included, everything is so well balanced and laid out – the colourways are so innovative, the lettering so intricate. To get them hanging together this well takes a lot of skill and patience. Don’t be fooled by the first impressions of it being nothing more than a laissez-faire, spur-of-the-moment piece of indulgence. This artwork has been crafted.
The history of graffiti is equally as interesting. Legend has it that the first modern graffiti writer is widely considered to be Cornbread, a high school student from Philadelphia, who in 1967 started tagging city walls to get the attention of a girl. But it was only in the 1980s that galleries began to showcase graffiti as legitimate artwork. Now we find ourselves at a point where major auction houses are selling pieces for huge sums of money, which for me completely misses the point of why it was made in the first place. Graffiti is one of the few remaining elements of modern life which exists for all the right reasons, and I wish it could stay that way.