A recent piece by near-legendary graffiti writer GESER (GES for short) has some people questioning the idea of corporate support and artistic integrity. The piece, a train-wide signature by an artist famous for his ability to draw large pieces, is beautiful, but it’s also paid for and made using MOLOTOW products.
GESER’s relationship with MOLOTOW is one that, according to him, is mutually beneficial. In an interview with MOLOTOW, he explains that:
“Brand-support of artists is a mutually-beneficial relationship where both parties help each other. The artist is free to produce more art due to having paint supply on-hand, while the paint company benefits from the publicity of the artist using their skills and name-recognition to draw positive attention to the brand.”
MOLOTOW, for those who are unaware, is a painting and artist supplies company with a particular focus on graffiti and writing. A large part of their brand is focused on the latest in spray paint technology and colours that’s made for graffiti artists and no one else. According to GESER, the technology is far and away some of the best available, with a combination of great colours, even, low pressure flow, and good coverage that can make any project much, much easier.
The collaboration seems to be organic, with MOLOTOW approaching GESER about the project after discovering he used the products in his own work anyways. A proponent of the products, it wasn’t a stretch for GESER to use the products to create something truly striking and original, and his disavowal of the corporate influence speaks to both the development and creation of such work.
Graffiti writing, after all, is widely seen as vandalism over art, and with this all-too-common misconception, the graffiti community often reacts against mainstream influence. It appears in a number of ways, from ignoring anti-graffiti laws to refusing to work with larger companies who want to “cash in” on graffiti’s counter-culture place in the art world. No matter the reasoning, however, GESER’s opinions are that good work can come from a number of places, including big companies.
“I don’t mind doing occasional jobs/walls for money,” GESER said in the interview, “But I must say that turn down quite a bit of commission work due to the frustration of dealing with low-ball clients who can’t articulate what they are looking for. It usually results in a frustrating experience.” The takeaway is that smaller clients are perhaps more frustrating than larger ones, that the bigger guys pay their bills, provide bigger opportunities, and can help artists reach bigger audiences.
Of course, every artist must make their own way through the murky waters of paid work, companies, and paying the bills. For GESER, it’s choosing to make writing only one part of his income over the entire thing. “I prefer to paint for fun,” he says, “And have the option of accepting or declining paid work if I feel it doesn’t interest me.”