Art with a heart

GRAFFITI SPEAKS

As a kid when he was living in New Jersey, Arjun Srinivas was always fascinated by graffiti. But when he came back to India at the age of ten, he was surprised to discover that the concept did not exist here at all. 
 
That’s when he decided to try his hand at it. 

“When I was 19, I was re-introduced to the art on the internet,” the 22-year-old tells Metrolife. 

“Although, I wasn’t good at drawing, I started doodling. I was just fascinated at how I could 
play around with letters, which is the main thing for a graffiti artist. However, what’s ironic is that though I kept doodling, I never thought that it was graffiti,” explains the mechanical engineering student from Dayananda Sagar Institutions.
 
Starting off at the garage in his house, Arjun slowly progressed to painting in public spaces. 

“I started connecting with like-minded people on social networking sites. And soon, I started getting more and more commissioned work,” he says. 

Some of the places that he has worked for are ‘Rattrap’ in Forum and ‘The Swag Shop’, an urban clothing store. 

He also painted for ‘Pinkathon’, a marathon for women and did the backdrop of a fest organised by St Joseph’s College of Commerce two years ago.

Arjun also organises workshops at schools. 

“From September to December along with a group of friends, I organised a workshop for the high school students of Sri Kumaran Children’s Home. And we were impressed with the response we got. It was an eye-opening experience and we got to know how many students were interested in graffiti,” points out Arjun.  

Popularly known as Sage in the graffiti circle, Arjun says that he usually gets one or two calls a month for work. 

“We do the work at one go, either during the day or night,” he says. 

However, the biggest challenge that he faces is acceptance. 

“We try to do the work as legally as we can. But there are many who are not aware of what we do or don’t accept what we do,” he says. 

Despite being so talented, Arjun says that he does not enter competitions. 

“We are expected to carry our own material. For example, one can of paint costs Rs 400 and to do a piece of work, almost ten cans are required, which works out to Rs 4000. That’s too much to shell out for a competition, which is why we prefer staying away from them. Of course, if the materials are provided, I’ll be open to taking part,” he says.
 
Talking about his future plans, Arjun says that while it may be difficult to make a sustainable career out of graffiti, he plans to use his engineering background and pursue product design or industrial design. 

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