The Heart Of Design.

heart1Five hundred years ago the same artists who create graffiti now would have been carving gargoyles, making stained glass windows, and painting frescoes for cathedrals. A thousand years ago they would have been illuminating books. That’s a real stretch but I do think the driving force behind at least some graffiti is that there aren’t enough outlets for people with a need to create. In the Baroque and Rococo periods especially there was a lot of call for craftspeople to decorate every square inch of just about every surface. Economics and social changes brought an end to that and most modern design is driven by function with a belief that anything extra is superfluous. There have even been art movements that sought to strip items down to just rationality and functionality. I’m looking at you Bauhaus—and I don’t mean the band.

I still think there’s a deeply human impulse to decorate and this is a really roundabout way of saying I absolutely love the heart painted on a storage container. Whoever did this has taken a bland, utilitarian, mass-manufactured object and made it unique. At least they’ve added something interesting to it.

heart2I’m not so in love with the car parked in front of it that made it difficult for me to get a clear shot but, hey, people gotta park. And almost every car on the road has bumper stickers, and some have eyelashes or Rudolph noses and antlers around Christmas or have been decorated in some way. Like I said: there’s a deeply human impulse to decorate.

heart3The way the heart is drawn is very interesting to me too. The artist didn’t use conventional spray paint but something thicker, giving it a rough texture. The arrow is also pointing upward. Heart and Cupid iconography are really big subjects I won’t go into but logically a fired arrow moves in an arc, which is why they call it “archery”, but that’s another story. For an arrow to go straight up through something it has to be fired really hard and from a low angle. That does make some sense since Cupid is usually portrayed as a child.

Seen any graffiti? Send your pictures to freethinkers@nerosoft.com. I’m not kidding when I say I’d love to get them.

cupid

11 Comments

  1. Sarah

    I read this right after you posted it and was about to comment, but my daughter started crying (I don’t think it had to do with your blog post.) Anyway, you’re making me appreciate graffiti! I’ve always looked at it as something people do just to engage in some criminal behavior on the side of whatever they do during the day. I like how you brought up that humans have always liked to decorate things, to leave their mark, etc. That’s really going to make me look at this in a different way from now on. I also like that heart. Good point about the texture! I’ve noticed loads of graffiti around my neighborhood but have been picky about taking pictures of any of it just because I’m holding out for something interesting to send you. On a scale of 1-10, how ‘pretty’ do you want the graffiti to be? I see a lot of random words, but very little by way of textured hearts?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If I’ve made you appreciate graffiti then my mission is accomplished. Or one of them anyway. I’ve been influenced by a documentary about graffiti I saw as a kid. It was in New York and there were a lot of artists whose only criminal behavior was graffiti, and they were going to jail for it. At the time, though, there was a program to get some of the more obviously talented ones into art programs and studios.
      How “pretty” it has to be is a tough question. There are lots of things that make graffiti aesthetically interesting: not just color and form, but where it’s placed, and even why. Sometimes it’s just a way for gangs to mark out their territory, or some random scribble done by someone who was bored, but does it look like the artist was trying to say something? Or does it speak to you in some way? Look carefully. Even what appears to be just a name or a simple phrase could be humorous or tragic.

      Reply
  2. Ann Koplow

    I love the deeply human heart of this post, Chris. <3

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Ann, I love that your unusual but still deeply human heart is touched by this.

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    I wholeheartedly agree with your premise, especially at this time of year in Canada, when people go crazy putting in flowers, filling in urns and window boxes, and generally making their green spaces aesthetically appealing. You can drive around ANY neighbourhood, rich or poor, and see how much people love to decorate in their own personal ways. It’s quite lovely.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That sounds incredibly nice. I love it when people put out flowers in urns and window boxes. I hadn’t thought of that as a kind of self-expression, but it is. And it is very much each individuals’ way of expressing themselves which makes it even more interesting.

      Reply
  4. halfa1000miles

    CW, this is very late notice (I just found this and submitted one yesterday), but go check this link out. Seriously. Do. The entry deadline is May 31st, but you would rock at this. First prize is $2,000. Second prize is $1,000. Third prize is $500. It’s actually ABOUT graffiti (sort of). Holla back.

    http://videodescriptioncontest.com/

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Holy mackerel, that sounds amazing. Thank you so much! I’ve entered my own submission too and the video is fantastic. Hey, it IS about graffiti. Even if neither of us wins it was worth it getting to see the video. I think it’s worthy of a separate post of its own in fact.

      Reply
  5. halfa1000miles

    I thought of you immediately, even before the subject matter. Good luck!!! Crossing fingers for you 🙂

    Reply
  6. halfa1000miles

    I’m glad I posted this here AND sent by email, because I just saw the email I sent you and it’s still in draft. It never got sent!! I then posted this on your site because you didn’t answer my email. Funny.

    Reply
    1. halfa1000miles

      FYI – When I comment here, I check the box to get notified of follow-up comments and then I confirm that email — but I never get notifications…

      Reply

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