The history of self-expression is marked by subversive art forms that turn mainstream and gain broader popularity (punk rock, Kim Kardashian). Street art is perhaps the latest, with homeowners choosing to deck their piles, both inside and out, with graffiti-like paintings – as opposed to power-washing it away in a hail of soap suds. Intricately patterned, brightly coloured murals are the new tattoo: architecture-scaled announcements of the personalities and passions of the people inside.
Andrea Manica is a mural painter based in Toronto. She is often commissioned to paint garage doors and fences in the alleyways that twist through the city’s residential neighbourhoods. In part, she says, her clients are motivated to have the art as a way to control the look of a surface that is likely to be covered in graffiti whether they like it or not. It’s their way of having “meaningful or beautiful graffiti,” she says, preventing the kind of senseless, scrawling tags that often mar urban spaces.