Has Graffiti Gone Glam?

I’m very excited to announce my new Living Style column at STIR, Sherwin-Williams’ website for color and design professionals and enthusiasts!  I’m pleased to be among a colorful team of three other experts, and together we’ll bring you a variety of informative design stories throughout the year.  You can also join the conversation by leaving comments, so be sure to check out my first story — GRAFFITI GLAMOUR. Here’s a preview/photo gallery:

{by Spray Paint Artist Chor Boogie}

Graffiti has long been associated with vandalism.  For years it has stirred up sentiments about its legitimacy as an art form. However, in the midst of this debate, a shift has taken place. Graffiti is now trending toward the glamorous — showing up in chic places, on hip home furnishings and on high-end fashion accessories. Artists are being commissioned for their work, which is now know as urban, street and spray paint art.  I interviewed five creative professionals, and they are all inspired by this art form’s energy, style and colors.

{both photos from Michael Tavano; photographer Rick Lew}

The graffiti-infused environment that designer Michael Tavano created for the New York Design Center at DIFFA’s Dining By Design event last year is still generating buzz.  Michael believes that graffiti impacts design partly because color influences design.  “We live with color all around us,” Michael says.  “You can use a lot of color and still be comfortable.”

{photo from The Dolce Group}

Graffiti is just one element that completes the dining experience at the upscale Rare 120 steakhouse in Las Vegas.  You’ll find only a hint of graffiti scrawled across the restaurant’s dining chairs.  However subtle, I surmise the graffiti was a key ingredient in designing the “cool, sleek and fun” atmosphere that owner Lonnie Moore tells me his clientele wants.

{Lovegrove & Repucci’s New York Delft dinnerware; weegohome.com’s South 3rd Hi-Light; furniture designer Luis Alicandu’s Louffiti Mirror}

{Coach; Louis Vuitton}

Ken Leung’s colorful jewelry collection {kenanddanadesign.com} reflects the street art of New York City, which Leung describes as “a raw and unapologetic expression of emotion and rebellion.”  “Art is a means of expression as well as communication.  Through that prism, graffiti becomes a very beautiful art form,” he explains.


Keenly aware that graffiti carries a negative connotation, Chor Boogie calls himself a spray paint artist and he emphasizes the positive aesthetic of this art form.  Based in San Francisco, his work has taken him around the globe.  Commissioned works include a mural at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in China and other public work in Australia, Dubai, Mexico and my hometown of Washington, DC.

{both photos/artwork by Chor Boogie}

“I don’t discriminate when it comes to color,” Chor tells me.  “I’ll put any off-colors together and make it look beautiful.”  My kinda guy!

{Chor Boogie contributed to the “Seasons In The City” mural in Washington, DC; photo from Albus Cavus}

I asked Chor what he wants others to focus on when deriving color inspiration from his art.  He says that people should look at how the art makes them feel, however far they can take their perception.  “Look for something from within…and go with what you feel is right.”  How does Urban Art make you feel?

8 thoughts on “Has Graffiti Gone Glam?

  1. Congratulations Kelly, that is fantastic. Have you seen the last wallpaper that Kelly Wearstler used in her house. It has some graffiti influence I would say.

    P.S. I’ve tried to add your blog to my blog roll but for some reason it doesn’t show up. Has anyone else encountered this? that you know?

  2. Congrats on being a featured STIR columnist. They put together a great bunch of contributors!
    This is a really interesting story. Chor’s work is amazing. I wonder if the word graffiti will ever have a positive connotation?
    I especially connected with this quote from Michael Tavano: “We live with color all around us. You can use a lot of color and still be comfortable.” It’s so true. Just look outside at all the beautiful colors? There’s no reason for us to live in a colorless world.
    Thanks for the great post!

  3. Urban art makes me feel good :-) I love how the artists have this seemingly freestyle, unordered way of creating their art. But I’m sure there’s a lot of thought and structure behind the art.

    Love those graffiti chairs at Rare 120 :-)


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