I got to do one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Graffiti in Barcelona. I would have never thought that my Urban Interventions course through UAB would have me go out into the city and graffiti a wall. The class started as any other class would until my Professor Georginia gave us what she called a Black Book. It is what graffiti artists and writers call their sketchbooks. This is where they practice their tags, which is the most basic thing you can put up on a wall: your name.
After a month of practicing my tag Soma, a play on my first and middle name, we moved on to make the tag more interesting and work on a piece. It is what graffiti artists call the work of art you put on a wall that looks really fancy, with lots of colors, lots of line art and lots of detail. So again, she had us back to the black book practicing more of our tag. During these two months of practice she informed us that we would have the option to do a work of art for our final project and that if we picked that option, we should go graffiti downtown.
Graffiti culture is strong in Barcelona and there are so many walls, especially in the neighborhood El Raval that are covered in anything from tags to pieces. Though it is illegal in Barcelona, the city knows that even though it is illegal it won’t stop anyone from putting their tags or pieces throughout the city. The solution, or deterrent are legal graffiti walls, which are all over the city where you can paint without any prosecution. Usually these are walls in a neighborhood that aren’t used for anything or near any big shopping areas. So I chose to team up with a friend and work on our graffiti piece together for the remainder of the semester.
So, about two weeks before the end of the semester, my friend and I bought 10 cans of spray paint, some gloves and some masks, and made our way to our chosen wall. Doing graffiti was something I never thought I would have done, let alone in another city away from home. I had so much fun doing it, and I made such a good friend in the process. This class has taught me that there are legal ways to go about doing graffiti and I’m currently trying to find legal walls near me to put up pieces. I can’t wait to continue working on new pieces and getting to know the writers in my hometown.
Sophie is a Fall 2022 Barcelona Alumna from Virginia Commonwealth University.