For one student, spray painting is a passion

Laura Lofgren

Photo by Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

He started six years ago by drawing people’s names in notebooks or on tests and homework in high school.

Junior architecture major Nik Sirna’s images grabbed the attention of fellow students as well as faculty.

“Once other people started seeing these things, they all wanted name tags or posters,” Sirna said. “I was doing this for teachers, students and family.”

It’s a passion

Graffiti, singular graffito, is a term for images or letters painted, scratched, scrawled or marked in any manner on public or private property. It is either regarded as an art form or an eye sore, depending on whose point of view you’re looking through. In some places, graffiti is considered an underground culture all its own.

For Sirna, it’s a passion.

In the beginning, he used crayons, pencils and Sharpies for his works, often thinking about more advanced forms of media. After getting serious with his art, Sirna did some research and found his inspiration: Banksy.

Banksy, a well-known English graffiti artist, often offers satirical artwork involving politics, culture and ethics all over the world and has an abundant following of new and old graffiti artists alike.

“He inspired me to buy an airbrush and start doing things that people could refer to and enjoy,” Sirna said.

Sirna sees graffiti as an artistic outlet.

“Graffiti as an art is an awesome way for people to express themselves in their own unique style,” he said. “The coolest part about graffiti is that not everyone can read or understand what it says, but they (the artist) are still making a statement.”

Sirna has a specific technique when it comes to his graffiti. He first thinks about what point he’s trying to get across through the visualization.

“I first think about what I want it to say or mean in my head,” he said.

Depending on the medium and its size, Sirna will sketch in pencil for a while until he gets it right. He begins with the background colors, using an expensive airbrush and some airbrush paint. After the background is complete, Sirna adds black and white to “make it pop.”

Art form, or vandalism?

In a way, graffiti can be vandalism, Sirna said. He disagrees with tagging public buildings and expensive things when there are plenty of old, run-down buildings, walls and trains to express oneself on.

Bold statements and harsh words call for action on the part of the law, Sirna said.

But besides that, he doesn’t see it as a problem.

“Graffiti artists are just using ugly, empty canvas and trying to creatively and innovatively make it appealing,” Sirna said.

When it comes to tolerance toward graffiti, Sirna said he thinks of old buildings that need a touch of color.

“(The police) should also appreciate those who try and make old things artistic,” he said. “These artists could be out underage drinking or smoking or other bad things, but instead, they’re taking time out to express themselves in a positive way.”

Currently, Sirna is doing wall murals, sayings, hidden messages and logos. He said he will eventually do many more things, such as work on custom motorcycle tanks, when he finishes college with a degree in architecture.

“Architecture takes an abundance of time,” he said.

Contact features correspondent Laura Lofgren at [email protected].