Decorative graffiti
January 3, 2010 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Art filter: I'm thinking about using spray paint to decorate the walls of a shop. I've never done this before, please help!

It's an on-campus bike shop and I have permission to paint over the very bland, existing white walls.

I'm starting to get some ideas and thought about buying spray paint. I'd probably only be buying three cans, all of which will be of our school colors, because this is going to be an out-of-pocket expense and I am a poor student.

My first question is, whether or not something like the 'American Accents' Spray is fine.

Also, I was thinking about doing some stencils for parts like chain rings and then putting them up on the wall and spraying around it. Do you have any good ideas for how I should stick my stencil onto the wall besides tape? I was thinking about using cardboard for stencils. I've also never done stencils before but I do have access to photoshop and a printer and probably some pizza boxes.

I know spray paint will smell so I'm probably gonna buy a bottle of air freshener while I'm at it. Other than advice like avoid spraying in the eyes, I'd welcome any suggestions or tips.

posted by bluelight to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Air freshener is not going to do it. You need really good ventilation and also a face mask so that you're not breathing in clouds of the stuff.

Practice with your stencils on another surface before you start this. If you just wing it, it's going to look bad.

You are probably going to need more cans than you think you will.

Your hardware store should sell masking tape that is designed to be laid down and then peeled back up -- it's usually blue or green. This is what people use for painting projects.
posted by hermitosis at 6:20 PM on January 3, 2010

I've never done it but I've seen it lots.

Google gave me:
posted by Lizc at 6:23 PM on January 3, 2010

I used the American Accents spray to finish the trim on my bar (in my house) and it turned out great. I'd advise you that everything within about 15 feet will get coated in a fine paint mist if not covered up. Also, the fumes are overpowering so be sure to have plenty of ventilation!
posted by tomwheeler at 6:24 PM on January 3, 2010

Shake the can up way more than you'd think. No, even more than that. No, keep going.

Yes, proper ventilation and breathing protection is a must. A dust mask is not proper breathing protection, you need a respirator.

Yes, spend a good chunk of time practicing on another surface first. Old file folders make better stencils than cardboard.
posted by mollymayhem at 6:50 PM on January 3, 2010

Use a can of spray mount instead of tape to stick the stencils up. Go outside to do this! Just lightly spray the back of the stencil with spray mount and it'll be tacky enough to hold cardboard up on the wall and still pick it up and replace it as you go. This'll work especially well for a repeating pattern like a bike chain. Also you will probably need more than 3 cans of paint, sorry. And yes, shake it so hard and long your spleen starts to froth. Or at least until you can clearly hear and feel that the ball is moving smoothly from end to end. The best advice is read the instructions on the can, thoroughly. And don't use any more aerosol sprays than you have to, a can of febreeze is not going to help the smell, trust!
posted by Juicy Avenger at 7:03 PM on January 3, 2010

Response by poster: On second thought, I'm thinking about switching off the idea of spray paints for vinyl wall art. The fumes will probably be worse than I originally thought!

Thanks for all of your advice though, I will keep these comments in mind when I do use spray paint in an outdoor setting.
posted by bluelight at 7:05 PM on January 3, 2010

You can stencil without using spray paint. I would suggest purchasing some acetate or thin plastic at a craft store, printing out your patterns, then using an exact-o knife to cut the pattern out.

The thinness of the acetate or plastic will allow you to easily use a foam roller to apply your pattern on the wall.

If the walls are really rough in texture, instead of using a roller you can use the tips of cheap chip brushes to stipple in the pattern.
posted by travis08 at 7:27 PM on January 3, 2010

The fumes are actually quite poisonous in high concentrations.

What you want is an airbrush and air compressor. A cheap setup can be had for $50 or less, or possibly borrowed or rented from an artist/high school/college art student with access to equipment.

No fumes from the propellant then; you can use virtually any paint you choose; but the cloud of paint in the air will still require you wear goggles, a decent breathing mask, and cover every non-painted surface. Also, setup up as many fans as possible blowing air out of the room (as opposed to towards your work).
posted by IAmBroom at 7:49 PM on January 3, 2010

I'd suggest using a paint roller and gallon buckets of paint. A lot of hardware stores will give away mismixed paint to nonprofits, student groups, or other good causes. I've had luck even with chains like Ace. There's a good chance you'll be able to find your school colors. Also if you go to a school that's into spirit and such frats or other organizations may have leftover paint. Make sure to put down plastic or newspaper on the ground. Bluetape off any sockets or outlets. You can get a lot of supplies at the dollar store that'll suprisingly save you around fourty bucks. tape, black mixing trays, etc. Open up the windows. Then after you get the basic colors up you can apply stencils or other art. I'd also recommend some chalkboard whiteboard paint near the counter. It'll make for a good announcement board.
posted by beardlace at 2:26 AM on January 4, 2010

Spray paint is way more toxic than most people think, and its volatility allows it to go everywhere in the building, and even into neighboring buildings.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:44 AM on January 4, 2010

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