Ghost Writers

Cleveland’s graffiti artists are plenty daring, but are they any good?

Ghost Writers

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Gentlemen: Please Cut Loose!

Note to aspiring graffiti writers: You can rock the world — or at least our corner of it — by breaking the boundaries of your art. Inspiration isn't hard to find. Take the internationally famous work of artists like Blu Blu, whose stop-action, graffiti animation Muto was created frame by frame by painting a surreal story on walls.

Or consider Os Gemeos, the Brazilian twin brothers whose bright murals cheer the walls of Sao Paulo with sociopolitical satire and folkloric imagery.

Or look at the U.K. stencil artist Banksy, painter of trompe l'oeil holes in the barrier wall in Palestine, and the image of a little girl floating over it, her hand clutching a bouquet of helium balloons.

The best street art in the world means something to an audience the size of a city or region. It relates to its location, or to local or world events. It might be built upon humor, or frustration, or anger, or anything else — but it has something more to say than a painter's invented name.

Any self-respecting graffiti artist has already checked out these and many more sources of documented greatness. But just in case: Make a point to check out Banksy's recent street art documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which reveals a world of innovative street artists — and very few invented names in fat letters. It's not that these guys are so much more skilled than graffiti writers in Cleveland. But when they take their risks, the result isn't merely what thousands of others have done for decades. On the web, don't miss woostercollective.com for spectacular street-art innovation from around the world and 12ozprophet.com for more pictures of fat letters in an unending stream of styles.

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