|Wednesday, 18 September, 2002 10:39
Got something to spray
Adler and Michael Flibb at the Common
Southampton graphic designers are out to re-write people's opinions
of graffiti. With bright, bold and exciting designs, the Beyond Graffiti
project is aiming to offer kids an artistic alternative to graffiti
vandalism. BBC Southampton's Stephen Stafford met up with them...
Flibb and Corbin Adler
are dedicated to one little word: "art". The two are passionate
about providing an alternative to vandalism for kids with creative
talent and giving Southampton some fresh splashes of colour at the
who now run their own graphic design business, have known each other
since they were 12 and went to Bitterne Park Secondary School together.
approached by the City Council to spruce up the paddling pool kiosk
on Southampton Common. But the pair didn't just grab their spray cans
and go for it - artistic graffiti needs planning.
explained: "It was vandalised and looked a mess so we set up
a workshop to involve youngsters as to how the building should look.
We sent out worksheets and questionnaires and the response we got
was absolutely amazing.
Common paddling pool
We developed sketches, 3-D computer designs and eventually painted
the building with bold colourful designs. We were expecting people
to turn up their noses but a lot of the pensioners and dog walkers
around the Common who have nothing to do with the graff scene whatsoever
came up and said, 'this is beautiful' and 'this is fantastic.'
The positive feedback to the abstract parklife designs at the paddling
pool prompted them to devote their spare time to setting up 'Beyond
Graffiti' (BG) - a voluntary project involving the
collective of graffiti 'writers', their own MD-VS design company and
Southampton Youth Service to give young writers an outlet for their
creative talent that didn't involved vandalising public areas.
really passionate about it, we've got the know-how and the resources
to make it work - we wanted to do something positive ... it's scary
what we've achieved in a month and a half - we're basically doing
two full-time jobs - it's nuts!"
Michael and Corbin are well aware that graffiti has a bad name - especially
when housing estates and subways are sprayed with 'tagging' - the
unsightly graffiti 'signatures' that appear. But they are aware of
being seen as too establishment which would alienate the writers,
who by definition, are part of the underground scene.
not on the side of the council, we're not on the side of the writers,
we're on the side of both of them," explained Michael,
vandalism side of it is messy, it's part of my history...but I do
believe a lot of time is wasted doing that stuff when we could be
creative and doing it as a recognised art form ... you'll never get
rid of the vandalism problem, there's always going to be system breakers.
I was part of that but I've realised my way of broadcasting is maybe
to organise this sort of creative project."
"There are writers out there that have definite talent and what
we are doing is to give them somewhere to spray legitimately without
the criminal side of things, so that can really develop their skills
and ideas and composition. So when they have the time and opportunity
to design and spray something, it'll be really really good."
Their plan is to set up 'urban galleries', where young people can
design and spray their ideas, and brighten up urban areas for the
local community at the same time.
is a myriad of ideas - each piece of work is a personal issue for
each artist - conveying their frustrations and what's going on in
their heads - it could be a sign of peace, an environmental or social
message...that's what BG aims to do, show the difference between vandalism
and art and give them the opportunity to convey their feelings through
this amazingly energetic and colourful art form - there is no other
art form like it,"
As a next
step, the have organised a two-day Graffiti convention last month.
Artists from around the country were invited and local writers will
also had the opportunity to spray on boards and designated walls in
five hour sessions. - accompanied by live music, DJ sets and ive MC-ing.
Un-Kanned Convention in August
news report about the Un-Kanned Convention.
Graffiti is also about making it clear that graffiti is an art form
that can appeal to the wider population - as it is in parts of Europe
where large public graffiti art is commonplace.
Corbin explains: "Because graffiti is ultimately illegal, it
is hidden away, so when people walk through subways with abusive or
mindless tagging, they get get offended and scared. We can make the
audience develop an understanding of what it can communicate - by
painting colours, places and shapes that can appeal to more people.
Our work on the Common shows there is room for graffiti to be socially
accepted by everyone from toddlers to pensioners. And rather than
doing it quickly incase they get caught, we can teach the writers
the skills to do something absolutely amazing and at the same time
brighten up Southampton."