Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Student’s passion for graffiti as art

When Jose Sandoval sees a white wall, he pictures only possibilities: bright colorful murals, dark meaningful social commentary or complicated letters forming art that only the he can read.

He is a street artist not a delinquent. He is someone who sees a wall as a canvas that can constantly change, but he didn’t start out that way. As a child growing up, Sandoval went through many art phases. He started with cartoons, then anime and on to fine art pieces in high school always looking for something bigger and more creative.

“I’ve gone through a lot of phases,” he said. “I’m still trying to find my signature style I guess.”

After high school, he came to TSTC to study Advertising Design & Print, but in a typography class he hit another type of wall.

“It got to a point in one of my classes that I couldn’t come up with any designs I liked,” he said. “It was all stuff to please everyone else and I wasn’t happy with it, so I dropped everything.”

Sandoval took two semesters off from college to find his creative voice. He’d been introduced to graffiti by another ADP student who had grown up in the street art scene of California and it intrigued him. So he studied it, tearing through books, movies, documentaries and Web sites that took him through the history, meaning and culture behind the art that’s been called bigger than the renaissance.

“I took the hiatus to really reevaluate my life and find a fountain of youth to rejuvenate my creativity,” Sandoval said. “In graffiti I found my motivation.It’s very competitive and I like that about it. It’s a creative competition to see who can come up with something new that hasn’t been done before.”

Learning to make spray paint art has been a slow process for Sandoval. He immersed himself in it for a year to get the level he’s at now and still sees a lot of room for improvement. He started out with sketches and has since filled three notebooks full of graffiti ideas and practice. Though he describes his first attempts as “pretty horrible,” Sandoval said he found a love for the medium.

“I’m very impatient and spray paint is my kind of medium. It dries fast and you just add more layers,” he said. “It was like I was made to paint with it.”

He’s also become more socially aware of the laws involved with graffiti. At first he assumed the penalty for unauthorized tagging was fine or a slap on the wrist, but after spending several hours in jail and answering to his mother who bailed him out, he sought permission to use walls for canvasses.

He spoke to businesses with large visible walls, showed them examples of what he would paint, and now has a wall at 25th and Morrow that uses for practice. From that wall, word got around about his talent and Mission Waco commissioned a mural from him which now decorates two of its outside walls.

Though commissioned works are still few and far between for Sandoval, he faithfully paints and repaints his first wall once a month as an ever-changing work of art. He returned to TSTC this past summer and plans to finish his ADP degree
relying on graffiti as a hobby.

“TSTC is teaching me what I can do with art as a career and graffiti is the motivation for me to come up with new things,” he said.

He continually sketches bigger and more elaborate graffiti pieces filling page upon page in his notebooks. He gathers inspiration from several Web sites and artists from around the world and rarely talks to classmates and teachers about his street art.

“I just want to be known for my work,” Sandoval said