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Class Encourages Teens to Channel Inner Creativity Through Graffiti

A small group of local youth have spent the week learning graffiti techniques during a class offered through the Old Fire House Teen Center.

Summer art class got an extra flair this week as a group of half a dozen teens learned the fundamentals of graffiti during a program offered through the .

The class, held for a few hours Tuesday through Friday, encourages youth between the ages of 13 and 16 to try out an art form that can be controversial but also holds serious artistic value for many people.

The group spent the first part of each day learning techniques at the teen center before heading to the Edge Skate Park to paint on a wall the city offers just for graffiti artists.

Chris Jordan, one of two instructors working with the group through Tacoma-based Fab-5, said he's impressed with how receptive the City of Redmond is to graffiti.

"There's not a lot of places where you get to do this kind of art," he said.

Most of the kids who sign up for the class aren't looking for a way to rebel, fellow instructor Kenji Stoll added. The level of opportunity for individual expression is what draws most students in, Stoll said.

"They're just looking for something interesting, something creative," he said.

Stoll said the class spends a lot of time introducing basic drawing and painting skills before progressing into more advanced techniques, such as different letter styles and hand control. 

Fifteen-year-old Owen Smith said he already had an interest in drawing but has learned many new skills through the graffiti class, such as how to create 3-D shapes.

Smith had never tried out graffiti before this week.

"I just thought it'd be something cool to learn how to do," he said.

Ken James August 17, 2012 at 06:50 AM
I really hope that as part of this graffiti class, they stress to their students that their 'canvas' is limited to legitimate/legal locations. Comments such as "encourages youth between the ages of 13 and 16 to try out an art form that can be controversial but also holds serious artistic value for many people" and "impressed with how receptive the City of Redmond is to graffiti" could be misinterpreted by young teens. The cost of graffiti cleanup is very high and creates a blight when it appears anywhere except on the one area at the skate park. This program is questionable at best.
dorimonsonfan August 18, 2012 at 03:33 AM
geez, maybe they should offer a class that encourages teens to channel debating skills at the gun range? this is not a good idea!
Julie Houff August 19, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Ditto, Ken. I certainly hope that the main point stressed is how to make good decisions on where to do this art. Kids tend to just need appropriate outlets and good teachers/mentors in order to make good choices and do good things, so hopefully all will end well with this. Worth the experiment, I think.
Julius August 19, 2012 at 06:45 PM
An "art form that can be controversial"? Teaching kids that graffiti is art will take your community down a path of increased vandalism. First off, invited authorized art/murals are great. Those things aren't graffiti. Unlike graffiti, art involves permission or consumption by choice. You might select art for your home. Graffiti is forced on us without permission. As described at www.DefacingAmerica.com , we don't have an art problem in the US. We have a problem of vandalism.
Julius August 19, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Ken is right! Permission is a key concept.

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