September 4, 2006

Let’s be clear about something present in street art, whether it be graffiti, stencils, stickering, tagging or stamping. They are all deliberate and establish identity under a strongly focused concept. Graffiti started with individualization with Take 183. Then tagging became a new calligraphy. The movement embraced competition and conflict even if it became victimized by it. Stencils were the next logical progression of guerrilla art in that they already had their roots in political revolution and rebellion. They were quick to make and quick to apply. With this evolutionary step stencils began to make statements about art and branding through art and branding.

What I would like to call attention too is stamping. They are even quicker to apply, require less materials, offer theoretically higher details, and make statements about merchandization, miniaturization and simplicity. What I liked most about stencilism is that it was a better characterization of “minimalism” or “simplicity” in art than even minimalism tries to do. Minimalism is about stripping everything down to “core expressions.” It still follows the rules of color and form even if it the canvas is just a solid peice of color. It’s faults however is that they require a canvas, which street art feels is an unnecessary waste, and the “meaning” of a minimalist work is overly ambigious. Stencilism utilizes direct – focused statements which sometimes just use one word, one object-subject and one color. Can’t get any barer than that.

Stamping accomplishes the same thing stencilism does but on a miniature scale. It’s an art style I’d like to start. We could say the virtues of stamping would be:

It’s ecologically sound. Uses no metal or cardboard only ink and rubber. Since street art is already ephemeral, I’d like to use water soluble inks. The movement will have to hibernate during winter/rain seasons (or simply move to dry arenas) which should be easy as stamping is remarkably portable.
Takes less than 5 seconds to apply. It also has the added benefit to the artist of choosing when to apply the paint/ink to the stamp. You could spend your time colorizing the stamp and then hitting it. Or you could use self-inking stamps.

History: Stamping has already been a high-art but during the Renaissance it was called etching and engraving. Albrecht Durer, Paul Revere, William Blake, Paul Gaugin, Francisco Goya, and I think Rembrandt van Rijn all were notable engravers, printmakers and so forth.

I’m just brain-storming. I had to write something after reading so much guerrilla art books lately. Plus, tomorrow I plan on snatching up Stencil Pirates (supposedly heavier than Manco’s Stencil Graffiti in intellectual weight) and The Art of Rebellion 2 (1 I hear has no deep discussion of the artform). I’m glad that my addictive behavior is directed towards personal enrichment and education rather than personal destruction and mindless pleasure. But then again, I do derive intellectual pleasure through my greed of knowledge.


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