Christian graffiti artist uses medium to spread gospel
A Christian graffiti artist in Canada is using spray paint to spread the gospel.
Richard Phillips, 26, is a Christian graffiti artist from London, Canada who only works on walls where he is given permission. He gets flak from hardcore graffiti artists who dislike the legitimate approach, according to The London Free Press.
Some traditional lovers of art also have issues, as they say paintings should be limited to the use of canvas and brush. Phillips, who is employed at Teen Challenge Farm, says that graffiti art is beautiful, The London Free Press said.
He would not be the first to feel this way, nor would he be the first to believe that art made with spray paint on a wall should be legitimate art. In the city of Kent, U.K., a group of young artists found ways to manipulate paint coming out of a spray can by experimenting with different aerosol caps and adjusting the pressure they exerted on the nozzle to get the color tone they wanted, Enrich Magazine said.
The local authorities, taking note of the quality of the boys’ work, decided to hire them instead of jail them. The boys were commissioned to use their art to put a positive spin on the walls of government buildings—and they were paid for it, Enrich Magazine said.
Graffiti art is a subculture art, but it is gaining mainstream recognition, albeit slowly. Phillips is using this to convey the Christian faith in Canada. Spray paint is his medium of choice, The London Free Press said.
For example, in a King St. alley, Phillips shows The London Free Press some of his pieces, and says he already has about 200 throughout the city. One painting plays on Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It shows a silhouette in the foreground of a spray-paint artist.
Ironic, considering that graffiti art is illegal. Phillips says these artists are not “mindless vandals,” and regrets that they are jailed. He told The London Free Press, “People’s lives have been ruined over something that can be painted over.”
For example tagger Benjamin Pavlov, 18, will be facing his second jail sentence for illegal graffiti. The subculture is heightened with the internet where one’s graffiti is photographed and/or videoed and uploaded, earning bragging rights, The London Free Press said.
Phillips, who has worked in social services, recommends instead that the city put up a wall in a public place that will be exclusively for graffiti art. He tells The London Free Press, “It would be great if the city had a free wall to express themselves.”
In Kent, U.K., graffiti artist Graham Upton does graffiti art workshops for the youth and the elderly, and this form of art is used to market skateboards, trainers, bikes and other items associated with the hiphop crowd, Enrich Magazine said.
Phillips told The London Free Press that in his city, a change of attitude would be needed. “The city and many people of the city don’t want to put a wall in the middle of nowhere where people can paint on because they think it is encouraging graffiti artists.”
Phillips’ pieces are not signed, but they are precise, colorful and spread a Christian message. He tells The London Free Press, “I do it to spread the message of Jesus. He changed my life and that’s why I do it.”
Ironically, he got into this when his church was vandalized with unwelcome graffiti. With the pastor’s permission, Phillips and a friend painted over it with their own work. He has since traveled to New York City, California and Mexico to study painting, The London Free Press said.
He ministers to other artists and finds walls where they can “create something beautiful,” even as he offers to do his own work for free for any business owner. He tells The London Free Press, “I’ve dedicated my life to trying to help people.”