Help me graffiti my own garage
April 11, 2014 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I need guidance on what sort of graffiti markers/paint I want to write words on an outdoor garage wall. Details within.

Okay so I have this hideously ugly garage that is going to have to be knocked down in a couple years if some highly-targeted natural disaster doesn't take it first (cross your fingers). One side of my garden (where we entertain constantly) is dominated by this huge, blank, ugly garage wall. I've decided to write a quote on the wall ("Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." -Proust) and then have friends and family who visit us sign the wall, which will make it visually more interesting and not quite such an unbroken expanse of ugly, but is inexpensive and easy and won't be the end of the world when we get rid of the garage in a couple years.

*Garage is wooden and painted with brick-red paint, peeling in a few places
*Do not care to repaint/repair the paint on the garage
*Prefer pen/marker style to a brush or spraycan
*Prefer little to no dripping
*Will use primarily black ink/paint
*Will be used by non-arty adults and children who visit
*Would like to be able to uncap and recap over a period of months with minimal maintenance, so visitors at different times can all sign
*Four-season climate
*Would like it to last somewhat, but the garage is only going to be around a couple more years so it doesn't have to be super-permanent
*Some fading/weathering is fine and will look okay in the garden
*Willing to spend a little more for ease-of-use rather than screwing around mixing my own paint or whatever

I have looked at some graffiti supply stores (such as Art Primo) but I cannot even understand what half the words mean, so I need guidance from someone much artier than I am! I can buy from the typical big-box stores locally (Home Depot, Michael's, etc.) or am happy to order online.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd go with regular old-fashioned spray paint. Use a stencil to make the quote look a little neater.
posted by catatethebird at 8:57 AM on April 11, 2014

Best answer: I would go with the largest Sharpie or Sanford Deluxe type marker you can find for the quote. I have seen ones that are over an inch wide at crafty stores. Practice writing on something else so you can use it like a calligraphy pen. Then you could have the people use smaller markers so their names will be legible. You will also be able to easily touch up the marker spots if they fade or chip too much.
posted by soelo at 8:58 AM on April 11, 2014

Best answer: For the main quote, I would outline the whole thing with pencil (using an overhead projector if you can get your hands on one), then trace over that with paint pen, then fill in with traditional brushed-on paint (latex exterior paint, I'm guessing, but talk to the hardware store).

Folks can sign in paint pen. Sharpies will also do in a pinch.

I personally think it would be kind of cool to either outline the text in silver paint pen/sharpie or offer guests that as an option to sign, just to add a little visual interest to the whole thing.
posted by Sara C. at 9:17 AM on April 11, 2014

Art supply stores (read: not Michael's) have huge Sharpies including the ones with oil-based paint. They'll also have pro-level spray paint and stencils and stuff.
posted by Madamina at 9:18 AM on April 11, 2014

Response by poster: I'm just going to freehand the quote; I'm very comfortable with that part. I'm not going to stencil. I'm looking for help on what type of paint/marker/whatever to use for doing this kind of thing outdoors, not on how to design it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:40 AM on April 11, 2014

Oh, then yeah, paint pens, and maybe some brushes with regular outdoor paint if you plan to make the text too thick to fill in with paint pen easily.
posted by Sara C. at 9:58 AM on April 11, 2014

What's the wall made of? What's the condition of the surface?

You may want to start with a solid paint marker, also known as a "streaker". They provide excellent coverage on most surfaces and won't drip, so you can take your time creating your design. Very user friendly with great waterproof qualities. You'll get a nice, opaque black that is unmatched in the field of non-drippy markers.

The Sakura Solid Marker is the classic streaker. Time-tested, graffiti artist approved. There are similar products, which may be a better value, but I don't have personal experience with these.

It is a bit unorthodox to use streakers for large pieces and, depending on the scale of your design, you may need several markers to complete the project. But given your requirements and abilities I think it could be a fine solution. They'd work well for guests signing their names as well.
posted by oollipo at 10:06 AM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Go to the hardware or office supply store, there are huge chisel-tip markers. I have always liked marks-a-lot markers; lots of ink and pretty permanent. also, pictures of completed project, plz! also, perhaps people could draw a plant along w/ signature - anybody can draw a flower. Those streakers look good, too, though. If you use markers, you could spray polyurethane on it to stabilize it a bit.
posted by theora55 at 12:12 PM on April 12, 2014

Best answer: My experience with the commonly-found Sharpie Paint Pen has been pretty "meh", especially after it's been sitting unused for a while. It takes a pretty fair amount of shaking and pressing and shaking and pressing & repeat repeat repeat to get the paint to flow properly. So I'd recommend not bothering with those, FWIW.

Sharpie permanent markers tend to not do so great on rough or wet/damp surfaces, but they're available everywhere and cheap (especially if you buy larger packages online), so maybe worth giving one a try. The ink cleans off the skin easily with rubbing alcohol or just some mildly rigorous scrubbing with ordinary soap and water. (I just tested this on my finger to make sure.) I can't honestly say how tough it is to get the marker out of clothing, because I usually use black Sharpies while wearing black t-shirts & jeans/shorts that don't need to be pristine, so I don't care if I get a few marks on them. Since it seems likely that young 'uns will be using them, you might want to do a laundry test or two.

(Note: I'm thinking more about what your guests will use to sign the wall, less about what to use for the main quote.)
posted by soundguy99 at 12:17 PM on April 12, 2014

Response by poster: We ended up using Sharpie paint markers, which are easy to get and we can have several of them on hand. People love signing our garage, especially little kids, who are like, "WE GET TO WRITE ON A WALL?" The peeling paint now looks cool. It's become a showpiece where people like to linger and read all the names instead of an ugly-ass wall that I hate, and when it dominates the view and we find ourselves staring at it, we love it because we get to see the names of all the people we love.

A+++ would graffiti again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:49 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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