Graffiti guide

A beginners' guide to doing graffiti, covering paints, spraypaints, stencils, surfaces and general advice.

What you will need
Paint. Oh really. However, there are a fuck of a lot of different types of paint so here's a few pointers:

Brush paints
Come in several flavours. All of which are preferable to spray cans as they are not so environmentally damaging. We generally block the piece in using emulsion and then outline & highlight it using cans (if its in a dodgy place, or if its small) or more brush paint if we have time. Emulsion (or any other water based paint) is crap in the rain. Otherwise, it lasts a fair while and you can spray on top of it while its still wet. This is very handy. Masonry paint has all these advantages, being a water based, but also lasts literally a lifetime. You can get the colour you want made up in shops. Emulsion tends to be in boring colours, but you can get fucking wicked coloured concentrated dyes from paint shops that will dye a swimming pool full of white emulsion pink/purple/whatever. Powder/poster paint also mixes with anything water based These are quite cheap to get hold of. Emulsion and masonry paint are quite easy to tat, from scrap stores or people who have been redecorating. Masonry paint is more expensive to buy than emulsion, twenty quid for five litres-ish.

Gloss
Lasts fucking ages and you can use it in the rain - but you can't spray over it till it dries (3 hours ish - come back tomorrow night) and you have to use white spirit to get rid of it / wash brushes. Beware, it can be very runny. Gloss is expensive if you buy it (six quid a litre ish? not sure) but easily tattable.

Spray cans
Make these plan B, coz they are seriously toxic and totally unrecycleable. But if you are painting in a busy place they are extremely quick (speshly if you are using stencils) and come in super sexy colours. They are also very clean, speshly if you wear gloves. Most car spray paints are crap. But there are bitumen based blacks and a few other colours designed to cover bodywork chips that cover well and the blacks do not come off. There is one particular make called stonechip that you can get in black and white that is very shexy. With a New York fat cap (see next section) it comes out nice and slow, never drips, covers everything and is perfect for outlines. Art sprays are hard-ish to get hold of and cost about £3.50 for a 400 ml can. You can get them in most large (UK) cities in record shops. Maybe its obvious, but spraying inside stinks.

Nozzles (caps)
Before you go out, make sure you've got the caps you need. Not having the right cap renders your spraycan useless. Fiddly little buggers. There are basically two types. Fat and skinny. Keep a few of each on you when you're out. Unfortunately all the makes of spray fit different caps. Working out which fits what is just trial and error. When you buy cans, get say five of each type that they sell (they're usually about 20p each) and experiment. When you buy art sprays, the nozzle they come with is usually fine, with car/plasticote sprays (not recommended anyway coz they're shit and really seriously poisonous to our planet) the nozzles are often crap. After using the can, either turn it upside down (so paint doesn't come out) and spray propellant through the cap to clear it, or take the cap off and blow through it. I prefer blowing coz it gives you multicoloured hard wearing lipstick. Some caps, for instance the New York skinny cap, don't fit on many cans because of a ridge of plastic about half way up the tube. You can shave this off with a craft knife to make 'em fit.

It is our mission to bring on roller use to the masses. Rollers are fucking cool. You can get 3/4 inch ones that are really good for smaller funky writing. Big ones are good for massive pieces. You don't really need a tray. Overalls are good though if you don't want to travel home covered in paint. Look after the rollers well, coz once they go hard you can't really use em.

Brushes
Are slow, so I don't use them so much (fiddly things, outlining, or alongside rollers if the surface is super uneven.) But there is one pixi who only ever uses a brush and it works fine anywhere thats not too on-top. Wicked for legal walls. Brushed graffiti looks super-cool I reckon. Fuck spray-paint snobs. Brushes are where its at.

Gloves
You can get latex ones from car part shops. You can nick not latex ones from hospitals. Remember to take them off after you've finished. I guess they're used to it, but if you forget you'll get funny looks when you're buying milk off the milkman at five in the morning.

Stencils
Easy to make from photocopies. Use acetate, card or lino, even thick paper and have some kind of folder to put them in (plastic folders are best as card sticks and rips easy). You'll need to gaffa them to the wall if you are on your own. Mind they don't stick to the folder when the paint is wet.

Pens
You can get wet chalk pens for writing on shop windows and black boards. They don't come of when they dry unless you scrubb 'em. We got them from friends working in offies. You can get them in motorists shops. They don't work at all in the wet, or on porous surfaces. Good for the inside of bus stops, sitex, that sort of thing. Worth carrying one around with you. Permanent markers work too, but they're small and generally black.

Surface/Location
You can paint on virtually anything, don't restrict yourself to walls and trains. Knowing which paint to use on which surface is trial and error. As a general guide though:

Concrete = Good. Its butt ugly anyway so you can't go wrong. Its also about the right smoothness and porousness. Spray paint will soak into very porous surfaces, so it is good to put a layer of emulsion on first as a primer.
Metal (trains, buses, sitex) = good. Watch for serious drippage though. Same with the shiny subway surfaces.

So far as locations go, be as imaginative and cheeky as possible. You might wanna do a quick piece where loads of people will see it, like a motorway bridge, or a more detailed piece where people will stop and have a look, like down an alley/carpark/river bridge. Try bus stops, cash points, bins, walls, pavements, garage doors, roofs, billboards, fur shops, posh hotels, embassies, McDonald's etc. etc. The more you have to pretend to be a ninja, the more fun it is. For example...some pixies snuck, (all the time pretending to be ninjas..) inside Campsfield Immigration Detention Centre and wrote "FREEDOM" on an inner wall facing the inmates sleeping quarters, some more wrote anti-nuke stuff all around the Aldermarston Military base.

Some hints
1) Take a mate. Its more fun, and then you have a lookout. Know what you're going to paint before you get there; you don't want to be hanging around trying to think of something. Sometimes it helps to carry a drawing around with you. If in doubt, have a few quickies in the back of your mind incase of mental block. Anti-war slogans, local campaigns, web addresses (URL's) are good. Organise yo'self, make sure you got all the nozzles, colour etc. and you know where they are. Remember something to open paint tins with. Don't paint too much stuff near your house. it'll make you paranoid.

2) It'll be dark when you're out. So write in big letters on your paint cans what colour it is. Saves lighter fuel.

3) Booze...get the mixture right. Too much alcohol and your piece will look shit. Whether or not you remember doing it, it'll still be there in the morning (in the busiest, CCTV'd, most on-top spot next to the cop shop on the high street..) and all your mates will know it was you. Live with the shame, or risk community service and go and paint over it tomorrow night.

4) One Crime at a time. I reckon this is a good tip if you don't wanna get pulled over for having no lights on yer bike when you're covered from head to foot in paint, carrying all your stencils and wearing latex housebreaking gloves. Might as well leave your drugs at home as well. Also, its a good idea to keep your house free of incriminating stuff, even sketches. Especially if your house is likely to get busted anyway. May sound paranoid, but people do get seriously nicked for painting sometimes. Years in a few cases. Even if you don't get charged you don't want the hassle of having the police kicking your door in at three in the morning. Read our defendants' guide to arrest

Taken from the Pinka Punka Pixies website
Edited by libcom