When we think about the history of painting giant words on walls, let’s not forget the wall dogs. They may be almost extinct here in North America, but in other parts of the world they’re thriving. You can still see evidence of their craft in the ghost signs in your own town or on the web. In some cases you can even see old layers showing through under new ones. (all links via MetaFilter.)
I just got a great phone call from a guy I know. I never knew this about him, but he heard about this website and told me a secret: back in the 80’s, he was one of the first writers in Montreal. He used to write Eyes. He had all kinds of stories to tell about those days. Apparently there were only four or five writers in Montreal at the time, and no crews to speak of: there was plenty of city to go around, so each writer had a whole neighborhood to himself. He never got in any trouble with the authorities, because his pieces looked good, and people didn’t really consider it vandalism. In fact, when writers would come in from other cities and go over his stuff, the police would actually let him know so he could fix it. Canada’s a pretty civilized place.
Eyes told me he used to rack cans from a hardware store, but he was terrible at it. He had an army jacket with big pockets, and he would go to the store and buy one can, but walk out with three more in his pockets. One day, he came up to the register, and the store owner looked him straight in the eye, and said, “You know, I could give you a discount.”
Eyes was mortified. All he could say was “Ummm, okay…” He imagined the owner’s hand on that red button under the counter, and figured best to just take the man’s offer. From that day on, he bought his paint over the counter, but he bought it by the case. And, true to his word, the owner gave him a pretty good deal on it.
Like I said, those Canadians are a civilized people.