The world of graffiti may seem to an outsider very inaccessible due to the level of anonymity many artists decide to keep, this secrecy surrounding identity is what also draws many fans to the art. Although artists may not advertise the fact that they like to tag regularly and they try to be as inconspicuous as possible there are a few tell-tale signs that someone is indeed a graffiti artist. Signs include; the paint drips on their shoes, paint staining their index and middle fingers and of course the sound coming from their backpack created by the rattle of their main tool – spray paint cans.
A graffiti artist’s backpack is the key to bringing their art to life on the streets, it contains all of the tools of their trade. But what exactly do they carry around with them in their bag? Here are 5 things that you will find when you open up a graffiti artist’s backpack…
You can find a range of different spray paints in an artist’s backpack, what you will find will depend on the style and preferences of the artist themselves. You could just find a couple of cheap cans of black paint that they picked up from the local DIY shop or a whole host of premium Montana cans that represent every colour in the rainbow and everything in between. The paint is the number one thing a graffiti artist would not be able to live without, it is essential, there would be no art if there was no paint to create it with.
Artists like graffiti markers because they are easy to carry around with you everywhere due to their size, and it’s easy to just pop a few in your pocket so you are prepared for any tagging opportunities that may come up at any time. Markers are also favoured by artists who like to fly even more under the radar because they are a lot less suspicious than a spray can, they make a lot less nose than a typical can does and they are typically a lot less messy. They can be used for a lot of things from scrawling out a quick tag on a park bench or in the bathroom of a music venue to signing off a large multi-colour mural.
These are used by the true artists, you aren’t likely to find these in the backpack of those who are just looking to paint a couple of tags around town. Different types of tips will create different types of lines, from fat lines, skinny lines and a tips created just to produce perfect outlines. Using a tip in addition to the spray can is key to creating a crisp piece of technical street art that is sure to turn heads.
It is so important to stay safe when spray painting, you don’t want something that you love to cause any harm to your health. Spray paints contain harmful chemicals, one of which is acetate and it can cause a lot of health problems in the long term. It is better to be safe than sorry and so most sensible artists will carry some form of respiratory protection, whether it be in the form of a respirator or a bandana, many other artists also carry bandanas to double up as a mask to hide their identity especially in the presence of CCTV cameras. You will also find gloves in an artist’s bag who make an extra effort to seem less suspicious because paint stained fingers are a give away that you’ve just been tagging.
So not every artist is a stencil artist, but it is a big part of the graffiti scene and has become ever increasingly popular with the rise of Banksy, so you’re more than likely to spot a stencil or two in many artist’s backpacks. Stencilling is a more accessible form of street art and so lends to its increasing popularity, you don’t need the skill that lies with controlling a spray can to create clean lines. All you need is an idea, a sheet of plastic, and a knife to produce a reusable stencil. The art of stencilling is also favoured because it makes it easy to throw up your tag swiftly and then repeat in another location.