By Shawn Simpson
Under the cover of night, an artist’s expression takes shape. The medium? Markers and spray paint. The canvas? Any surface he sees. Because he is a graffiti artist, and his compulsion, his addiction, is to be “bombing.”
“It’s a form of graffiti where you’re tagging your name in a (script) or a handstyle, quick bubbly letters,” said Dylan Herd, a graffiti artist and student at the college. “You’re doing a fast piece, a big piece where you just throw it up there and get out of there. Yeah, I have been caught before.”
Graffiti is an art where you write on “anything that’s not yours.” Herd explained, he and other graffiti artists normally work at night because “you generally make people mad when you (illegally) do it because you’re writing on things that don’t belong to you and that (is) a crime.”
If caught in Kansas, a graffiti artist is most likely to be charged under chapter 21, article 58, section 13 of the state’s statutes for criminal damage to property. According to the law, “criminal damage to property is by means other than by fire or explosive: Knowingly damaging, destroying, defacing or substantially impairing the use of any property in which another has an interest without the consent of such other person.” The penalty, if convicted, could be up to six months in prison and fines of several thousand dollars.
While graffiti is used by gangs for marking territory and may be used with the intent of destroying property, Herd’s work under the street name “Noise” was well known and ultimately what got him busted. His motivations have less to do with destruction and are part of his artistic release.
“I think the whole purpose behind what I do is being seen without being seen. Something about visually stimulating the public and making them stop and question ‘Why? What is this? Why is this here? What was the reason for it? Who is the person who did it?’ That keeps me going and wanting more and more. That feeds my fire.”
Herd’s art isn’t limited to graffiti. Stiff penalties and the looming potential of incarceration may stifle the artist’s freedom to be expressive in the street, but he’s still working to take his art to a new level.
“I got into graphic design (at the college) because I like to visually stimulate people’s minds, so what better place to go than graphic design? I don’t know where it’s (going to) take me — hopefully Google or Bic, or somewhere off the street. To a point where I don’t have to be there anymore.”
Herd’s street tag, Noise, has been retired, but you may still see it from time to time if you look around. Mostly you can see his work on display in Artist Alley just east of 18th and Oak in the Crossroads District. When asked if there is a new tag to watch out for, Herd had no comment.
Contributions from Pete Schulte, Editor-in-Chief; Cade Webb, Managing Editor; Heather Foley, Executive Director for JCAV-TV