Graffiti is an Art form, Not Vandalism

Lynsey Kitching

“Usually when you think graffiti, you think vandalism, but we wanted to show people that graffiti is actually the style of art. It’s a more graphic style of art. The terms tagging and vandalism is more doing stuff illegally, but graffiti, is just a normal nice way of doing art and we wanted to represent that,” says Anri Scheepers, student at the Tumbler Ridge Secondary school (TRSS) and catalyst for the Art to Ride On project.

After coming up with the idea to use the skate park by the community centre as a giant canvas for Tumbler Ridge artists for a school project with a group, Scheepers, who is an artist herself, kept the ball rolling. She says, “After this project was done in school, the rest of my group members had a lack of commitment due to other commitments they had for the semester. I decided to continue with the project because I am so passionate about it and I think it could benefit the town.”

Scheeper’s then took the idea to the Arts Council to gain support from other local artists and to get them to help with the making of the event.

She says, “We asked for their support and whether their members wanted to join the Art to Ride On committee. They loved it.”

With the support of the Arts Council, this motivated young lady took her art project to council for approval. Scheeper says, “I presented to the town council. We got them to legalize doing art on the skate park through Art to Ride On. The kinds of questions they asked were what kind of paint we wanted to put on it? How would we keep people from vandalising?”

The project kept gaining momentum and there is now a committee formed. Committee members are students from the Tumbler Ridge Secondary School (TRSS) as well as members from the Arts Council.

The Art to Ride On committee feels it is not their responsibility to police the area as Scheeper says, “It’s not really the committee’s job to foresee that people won’t vandalise. We will try to get people as much as possible to be proud of what they’re doing and giving everyone a chance to be able to paint on it if they work hard. It is the RCMP’s job to make sure there is no vandalism, it is not a small group of people’s job.”

The group has sorted out what types of paint they are going to use and with the help of their sponsors, they have the funds to purchase the materials. Scheeper says, “We aren’t using oil based, instead outdoor paint so it will be ok to go over it and it won’t make the skate park slippery. We have the background paint, so it’s not just the grey in the background and it looks professional. We will also have spray paint because it’s kind of the material that goes along with graffiti, and the liquitext paint markers, one material we want to get to do more detailed art. We have enough sponsors right now to be able to afford all of that and we are very thankful to everyone.”

With a committee, sponsors and motivation, all that was left was to find the artists. Scheeper says, “We told town council we needed eight submissions that we wanted to put on there. We didn’t want the whole skate park to be filled because what if someone wants to do this next year? Where will they put their art? We wanted to give it an opportunity to be an annual thing and not just a one-time event.”

The committee received exactly eight submissions. “That meant we didn’t have to turn anyone away who wanted to be involved. Needless to say they turned out really well,” says Scheeper.

With all of the sponsorship money, the committee decided they needed to open a bank account to keep track of their funds. “We made a bank account because we received about $1,000 in donations and we didn’t want that to just lie around. We made it through the schools bank account. Danielle Lively and I got a lot of real life experience out of this. We learned how to work with cheques, what kind of forms you have to sign to open a bank account. It gave us real life experiences we will be able to use later.”

Lively says, “I do it because I am quite a fan of her work and I wanted to be a part of this because I really like the idea. I think it is a really good idea for Tumbler Ridge to have a canvas like this. It’s a good way for teens to be able to say I did that, and be able to come back and say I did that.”

The final presentation for the Art to Ride on Committee was to the district school board and the hard work, great idea and passion of these young ladies was very well received by the board. At the meeting Scheeper said, “We are now presenting to you guys. This is how far we’ve come with this project. I feel like we’ve done a lot of promotion and getting people interested. Now we have to actually plan the event, we have a lot of ideas and a lot of people who have promised to do stuff; now we just need it formally agreed upon.”

Some idea for the event include having face painters, “so we can include the younger kids as well,” says Scheeper, since the submission were for grade seven and up. The group is also thinking about having a jumping castle, but nothing is as of yet, confirmed. “We gotten a verbal promise from the Lions Club they will be doing a barbeque. Not sure yet if it will be done by donation or selling, but that is up to them.” Make sure to come out and support Tumbler Ridge’s local artists on June 28 to 30 of 2013. The Friday will be the first day for the artists to get started, the Saturday will be the day with the barbeque and activities and the Sunday will be the day the artists are putting their final touches to their work.