Painting graffiti in Buenos Aires is legal.
This may sound crazy to many of my readers, but it’s true. You are free to paint as you like, as long as you aren’t painting on private property without permission, or on public buildings.
In fact, the laws are so liberal, that if you do have permission to paint a wall, you can paint whatever you want. Own a house in the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires? Want to paint it with a death squad? Pull the trigger. Virgin Mary? Peace be with you. A drunk? Take it down.
All this is to say that you have artistic freedom in this city to create whatever you’d like. On top of this, there are many public spaces that fall in the domain of legal walls to paint. Combine this with the creative spirit of the Porteños (people from Buenos Aires) and you have a concoction perfect for a vibrant street art scene.
So where do I fit in in the Buenos Aires street art scene?
Good question. Up until Friday, I was a not-so-casual observer – a fanatic foaming at the mouth for more. Friday, however, I went from observer to creator. Believe me, people won’t be coming from around the world to see my first piece anytime soon. Partially because it was painted over within a few hours, but that’s another story.
A few weeks ago I took an introductory course in painting graffiti with the godfather of local street art, Alfredo Segatori, better known as Pelado. He taught us the basics of creating the right width for the lines, the shading, the filling, and stylistic suggestions. With his guiding hand, the five of us created a piece that was decent.
Friday, however, was the first time I was free to do my own thing, and design my own work. I was a little nervous, and even now, revealing what I’ve created to you, my readers, I’m a little nervous.
I’ve never considered myself an artist. Hell, I’ve been known to have troubles drawing a stickman. I, however, didn’t go the route of the stickman, that’s already a cornered market in street art (Stik in London.)
I’ve decided to go by the moniker of Ciclo. For one, it has references to cycling. Two, it sounds a bit like ‘psycho’, which I think sounds cool. Three, I like the shape of the letters.
So Matt and I found a piece of wall in a park that is common for graffiti artists. We were painting under a piece by a famous crew, NDA, out of Barcelona. Around the corner were pieces by Jaz, Entes, Pum Pum, Ice and some other great local artists.
Great local artists we are not. We are neither local, nor great.
But everyone has their start, and this was ours. I like how my piece came out. I didn’t like that the next day it was already painted over.
Well, after day trading today, I’m off to paint some more. I really enjoy painting graffiti in Buenos Aires, and see it being a common outing for me for the rest of my time here.