16 Nov From Graffiti to Paid Commissions – Make a Living Off Your Passion
UGS reaches out to three Malta-based graffiti artists to find out how they turn their passion into a career.
While we are all told to do what you love, very often it isn’t as simple as it sounds — or it is?
Realising the passion
Aleks Vojvodic AKA The Mister Pink, who we’ve featured before here at UGS, started off his career when he was asked by a local group of football hooligans to paint a mural. At the time he was unsure about how to price his work and just gave an estimate.
From drawings he moved to doing stickers for people that asked him. Along the way more and more people began recognizing his talent as an artist.
“Do what you love, but find a way to bridge the gap between your talent and your work. Don’t exploit others or short change yourself.”
We also approached James Micallef Grimaud AKA Twitch
“I make money mostly through commissioned murals, paintings and funded projects and spend quite a lot of funds on materials so I stock up yearly and buy in bulk. Getting both personal and commercial requests, I only take up the ones I find interesting.”
Perfecting the art of graffiti — and making the most out of your paint
Christian de Souza Jensen AKA SeaPuppy tells us how his work can be turned into a profitable activity:
“Word of mouth, past and recent works being shared and seen, whereby commercial groups and private clients take notice. Malta being small and artists being few (especially mural artists) makes it easier than other places.”
Sharing people’s work could provide artist’s valuble exposure. However as we have written about before, is a concept that can be abused. The Mister Pink notes “a lot of people want to abuse your creativity. Exposure is a double-edged sword. You have to be conscious where you are in the game.”
So you’re getting noticed, how do graffiti artists make their work more efficient? Most artists save supplies from jobs for personal or other commercial projects. Mister Pink explains that the more he creates, the more efficient he gets with buying supplies including paint, brushes, spray paint tips and more.
SeaPuppy notes that “my clients have always paid for my materials. Whatever is left from jobs, which is usually a literal suitcase of cans per job, goes later into my private projects. You can imagine I live on the summit of Mt. Aerosol — it’s quite a 1st world problem really.”
We ask whether he’s been getting more commercial or private clients. “It has always been more commercial,” says SeaPuppy, “but lately, more private. It could be a 2020 thing where people want to make their homes more interesting during these times of COVID solitude.”
Graffiti artists, the public and the authorities
How are graffiti artists seen by the public and by the authorities?
Sea Puppy explains: “We’re seen positively. Realistically the only noticeable difference in what I do is that it’s on a wall. It’s only figurative art on a grander scale. Also considering that I get almost weekly job offers to paint walls (certainly doesn’t mean every project will materialize) in private homes and commercial settings, should be an indication that murals are actually classically nice things in this world.”
Twitch has a similar twist on it: “Some people love it and others hate it. Most authorities in Malta like what we do.”
Some lasting advice for graffiti artists
“Reach out to the older heads. They will help take you out of your perspective and will give you valuable advise, so listen to them.” — The Mister Pink
“It takes countless hours of trial and error on a progressional skill level, and eventually confidence to see it’s worth as a possible financial means. There’s no advice for having passion or confidence in something. One has it or they don’t.” — SeaPuppy
“My advice is to just keep doing what you love no matter what. It will pay off some day!” — Twitch
LINKS TO THE ARTISTS
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”