March 8th, 2004
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how to be a guerilla artist

Guerilla art is a fun and insidious way of sharing your vision with the world. It is a method of art making which entails leaving anonymous art pieces in public places. It can be done for a variety of reasons, to make a statement, to share your ideas, to send out good karma, or just for fun. My current fascination with it stems from a belief in the importance of making art without attachment to the outcome. To do something that has nothing to do with making money, or listening to the ego.
My first experience with being a guerilla artist was in my first year of art school in a class taught by conceptual artist Shirley Yanover. One of our assignments was to create some form of graffiti in a public place (we were allowed to choose the were and how). We went out in groups of four, (two lookouts, and two painters), and proceeded to make our mark on various blank walls across the city. The experience made me terrified and exhilarated at the same time. I wrote quotes from various authors along the bottoms of buildings, on phone booths, and on the sidewalks. I remember the feeling of daring as we sprinted away from unsuspecting police officers.
Now I am not necessarily advocating that you do anything illegal or potentially life threatening. But there is something wonderfully sneaky about leaving some form of art in public places. I like knowing that at some point in time someone might receive a little surprise in the form of a random message from a stranger, or a doodle in an unexpected place. I remember there used to be an artist in Toronto who would bolt text books and old phone books to various things. It became a personal quest of mine to find them all, and I always felt so excited when a new one showed up just under my nose. Experiment with your own ideas.
Possible Formats
1. Sidewalk chalk
2. Sticker art
3. Flyers/posters (see “make a flyer of your day” at http://www.learningtoloveyoumore.com.
4. Journals (pass it on)
5. Zines
6. Object leave behinds (money, gifts, junk)
7. Notes (slogans)
8. Graffiti
9. Book inserts (library)
10. Book leave behinds (bookcrossing.com)
11. Letters (possibly love letters to strangers)
12. The age old ‘message in a bottle’, or a balloon. Or if you are really adventurous you might be drawn to carrier pigeons.
Potential Ideas for subject matter
-any form of artwork (drawings, collage, doodles, paintings)
-recipes
-photos
-good luck charms
-fortunes
-quotes
-variations on a theme
-many guerilla artist are politically motivated and find that being anonymous allows them to be more controversial or extreme with their message. Popular with activists.
Further reading:
guerillart.org
The original guerilla girls
Mysterious figures show up on a campus.
Potato: Guerilla Art
Jeff Claassen

 
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