“In the environmental movement, every time you lose a battle it’s for good, but our victories always seem to be temporary and we keep fighting them over and over again.” David Suzuki.
Welcome to the world of reverse graffiti, where the artist’s weapons are cleaning materials and where the enemy is the elements: wind, rain, pollution and decay. It’s an art form that removes dust or dirt rather than adding paint. Some find it intriguing, beguiling, beautiful and imaginative, whereas others look upon it in much the same way as traditional graffiti – a complete lack of respect for the law. Reverse graffiti challenges ideals and perceptions while at the same time shapes and changes the environment in which we live, whether people think for the better, or not.
We thought we’d compile a collection of some of the most incredible works of reverse graffiti and the artists behind them for your viewing pleasure.
3. Reverse Graffiti Project, San Francisco.
One of Moose’s more recent works, the Reverse Graffiti Project, was on San Francisco’s Broadway tunnel in conjunction with Green Works, to promote a plant-based cleaner.
4. Reverse Graffiti Project by Moose in San Francisco.
12. Mona Lisa as you’ve never seen her before.
Scott Wade lives very near a dirt road covered in caliche – a mixture of limestone dust, gravel and clay – which, when driven over throws up a fine, white dust, covering the cars which he then decorates using plain, ordinary artist brushes, and the effects are amazing.
23. The artist in action.
The Brazilian authorities were incensed but couldn’t actually charge reverse graffiti artist Alexandre Orion with anything so they instead cleaned the tunnel.
24. What happens when caught in the act.
At first they cleaned only the parts Alexandre Orion had cleared but after the artist switched to the opposite wall they had to clean that too. In the end, the authorities decided to wash every tunnel in the city, missing the irony completely, it seems.
Reverse Graffiti from the Public
25. An innovative advertising campaign for Freshaire Choice, an eco-friendly paint brand.
26. Detailed painting on the back of a truck, Trafalgar Square, London.
27. Professional illustrator, Rabia, takes to the streets and cars of Israel and Amsterdam to produce some fun reverse graffiti.
28. ‘Don’t Litter’ etched on the side of a dirty bus, Auckland, New Zealand.
29. Something so beautiful created from something so dirty, in New York City.
30. So plane mechanics do have a sense of humor. A ‘Wash Me’ sign is written in the dirt of a plane wing.
31. More from Rabia.
Image: chris coles