Dumpster Television Junkies


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

a posetive story about graffiti art...

A 'win-win situation': Graffiti as advertising
Street art has benefited several local businesses by attracting customers
By Alejandro Alfonso, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 02/11/2007 02:50:22 AM PST

HAYWARD — It was an offer Amitesh Lal couldn't refuse.
A graffiti artist came into his store one day and offered to paint the large white wall outside his business on Mission Boulevard for free.
"He had seen the wall and was really interested," Lal said. "So, he showed a picture to my dad and my dad liked it and he asked me."
Lal, 23, who co-manages Island Liquor & Groceries with his father, agreed.
They signed a letter giving the artist permission to paint the structure. In exchange for advertising the store in the drawing, the artist was given room to spray on his own tag. The colorful ad attracts attention to the business and required no investment from Lal.
The artist even brought his own paint. The work was done in one week.
Lal said he doesn't know the full name of the artist, only that his first name is Raoul. His tag is THEZ.
"To get something like that done isthousands of dollars and it was our lucky stars that he walked in and wanted to do it," Lal said.
And there were added benefits. Business improved.
"People started to come around more," Lal said. "We started getting a couple hundred more dollars a month."
Another bonus was that Lal and his father no longer had to rid the wall of gang-related graffiti. It is an unwritten rule that a piece by a graffiti artist is shown respect by taggers and not defaced, even when it is also a piece of commercial art.
Lal doesn't think this form of advertising
is right for all businesses. But, he said, his younger customers relate to it.
"It depends on the business. Just because I'm young, I see the painter's point of view," he said. "But we get other reactions to it. Older people, they look at it as graffiti instead of art. We look at it as art."
Giving the artist permission, transforming what is generally viewed as a criminal act into something positive, works out for everyone involved, Lal said.
"It's a good thing. Because if private businesses give a chance for these young kids to express themselves and they do it in the right way — not gang-related, you know — it is just their art and they want to show it.
"It was a win-win situation, and we had to take it."
There is evidence this type of view is spreading. Across the street, at Purrfect Auto Service, manager/owner Sunil Khalsa approached Lal to find out who painted his wall.
"I saw his work and it was nice," Khalsa said. "I just wanted anybody at that time, if you got skills, show me what you got. So he did."
The auto service business got its own graffiti ad as well. The artist gets to have his work seen by everyone driving in both directions on Mission Boulevard.
"It's a trade-off," Khalsa said. "We supplied the paint and he gets to put his tag on the wall."
Alejandro Alfonso can be reached at (510) 293-2469 or

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