The stigma that comes with being a graffiti artist means that many have to live a double life. By day Pip is a 21-year-old bartender, but by night Pip can be found bombing, buffing, burning and semi-ironically speaking pig latin. “It’s like you are super heroes: you’re talking quietly, you’ve got all your gadgets and different tools that you need to get through things, you’re always talking in code, you’re always suss at everyone who walks past”
Pip has been writing for ten years and is no stranger to designing bogus stories to explain her whereabouts, why she’s covered in paint, and injuries borne from perching precariously in ‘heaven spots.’ “Graffiti is always going to be controversial because people are always going to do it on the wrong things. But making it more publicly acceptable means that kids who are 14 or 15 are not lying to their parents about where they are going, they’re not climbing down storm water drains, we’re not losing them to graffiti.”
Pip’s contribution to art culture can be seen around and about Sydney; on legal walls, on not-so-legal walls, in hostels and even skyscrapers. Her smooth lines are all about colour, movement and depth. She was introduced to graf at the special arts program at Mosman High when she was 12. Originally from the outback, Pip’s family is highly artistic, with her brother Chris schooled in fine arts and an accomplished sculptor. The energetic, confident Pip pokes fun at her younger self. “I remember listening to Jurassic Five for the first time, going like yeah man, sweet dude, I’m so street! I’m sitting in the north shore in my little fucking bubble… Eventually I got a little bit older and ventured into the city and realised how that wasn’t the case”.
A female in the graf scene is a bit of a rarity, but for Pip it’s all about making art that you love. “It’s an adrenaline rush”, she grins. “Our payment is to sit back and be happy with what we’ve done, to be able to drive past it, and to have everyone else seeing it.”
In a typical week, Pip will spend as much as $100 on paint “It is vandalism, but it’s costing us money. Some paint gets stolen, but yeah real hardcore writers, we’re out there, we buy our paint. That’s coming out of our pocket. And no one is turning up and saying that’s a really good job.”
Pip argues that the artistic skills for every graf piece are the same as any other form of painting, and deserve to be respected as such. “It’s not as if we are doing some sort of revolutional art movement, it’s just painting, its not anything new. I think most people’s stigma about it is that graffiti is the stepping stone to doing bigger and worser things.”