Be My Spray Paint Valentine: Graffiti Class at Graffik Gallery

I’m going to set things straight here once and for all, graffiti is hard. Now I know some of you may be shaking your heads, “street art is not art,” but last week I sat in Phillips auction house and watched a pretty average Banksy go under the hammer just a few lots before a Warhol pencil drawing, so I must respectfully beg to differ. Also, after taking a Street Art Workshop at Notting Hill’s Graffik Gallery this weekend, I am acutely aware of how arty street art really is.

That’s right, on Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend and I ventured out to Portobello Road to get our hands dirty, literally, prepared to realise in the 2 hour session of spray paint galore that we were the next Banksy, iCON or the couples version of Os Gemeos (Rio’s famed graffiti twins). Bursting with ideas and ready to show our stuff, we sat down on the back terrace of Graffik, awaiting instructions from our street artist/teacher, itching to grab the pencils and get started.

The Graffiti Wall at Graffik Gallery
The Graffiti Wall at Graffik Gallery

The class itself is in three parts — drawing, cutting and painting. For those who don’t know, drawing the stencil is almost always the first step in creating street art. An artist will draw and cut the stencil at home, allowing for maximum efficiency once they are on site. In other words, out in the mean streets, all they have to do is adhere the stencil, spray, peel off and get out as quickly as possible so as not to get caught.

After a quick explanation on stencil drawing aka how to create your desired image with negative space, because that’s where the paint goes (this was so hard!), we were off! We sketched, we cut, and finally we painted, zipping ourselves into boiler suits and slipping on a face mask for the toxic fumes.

Our teacher gave us a brief tutorial on spray painting techniques, including a splatter option, which I utilised to my heart’s (extreme) content for my background. The painting was definitely my favourite bit. I loved the feeling of squeezing down the cap just enough to hear the paint dance out, setting the pace for the texture I wanted to create on the canvas. What fun!

And while I’ve made it all sound like a walk in the park, one look at our final products (especially mine!) and you will be convinced that street art is not as easy as it seems.

The bf and I with our "masterpieces." Notice the major fail of my Valentine's theme...
The bf and I with our “masterpieces.” Notice the major fail of my Valentine’s theme…

But all hope is not lost because practice makes perfect! I will definitely be back for more. (Sorry in advance to all eyes involved.)

– India Irving

For more information, or to book Graffik Gallery’s Street Art Workshop, please contact or 020 8354 3592; 2-hour class from £35 most weekends; 284 Portobello Road, London W10 5TE

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