Shaking the can of spray paint he quickly looks around to check there are no witnesses. In and out in under a minute - that’s the plan. Applying his stencil to the wall, he leaves his mark and as quickly as he arrived, he is gone.
Seated at a cafe a safe distance away with a cup of coffee to warm his hands, he watches as the city springs to life with commuters. Normally they rush by, eager to get to their destination but today they stop and stare, taking their phones out to snap the graffiti.
He opens his small black notebook to log the details.
‘Main Street; Medic with face mask and angel wings’. His latest work was a tribute to the endeavours of the medical profession since the start of the pandemic.
Looking up he sees a van arriving and the occupants spill out, setting up a camera on a tripod and positioning a journalist with a microphone in front of his work.
Next to the artwork title he notes the time: 10.30am. It had taken the local media two and a half hours to react. ‘It’s getting faster’, he thinks.
Standing and taking another moment to review the scene, he slips his book into his backpack, fastens the zip and slips away without a second glance.
As he walks the streets where he grew up he shakes his head at the irony. He’d gone to art school, getting into debt to study his passion and taking knock back after knock back at the city’s art galleries where he’d tried to sell his work.
He was talented, and he’d done everything the ‘right way’ but achieved nothing. Then, one day in sheer frustration, he’d taken a can of spray paint and marked the side of a bank with an image of a fat cat wearing a tie and hoarding all the mice. That was it - his work captured the imaginations of the populous and the media started to take notice.
He became known as ‘Molesy’, the underground street artist whose locations were as much part of the statement as the actual artwork. His style was instantly recognisable, hence the commuters getting out their phones to share their ‘find’ to Instagram.
As he arrives home, he sits at his desk and takes out the black book. The pages are getting full now, there are so many issues to highlight.
He reviews the list.
‘Junior Street Primary School; Little boy with his bowl of gruel’. That one spoke to the child poverty in the area and took 5 days to get picked up by the media.
‘Alarming Power Building; The earth cries’. A green and blue globe with a sad face and a tear coming from one eye highlighted climate change. This one took 24 hours to make it to the evening news. By then there was a buzz surrounding Molesy and his work with art critics coming onto talk shows to discuss theories of who the artist might be and what the work says about our society.
He snaps the book shut and sighs. ‘In order to be successful I must be anonymous, but anonymity doesn’t pay the rent! Those snooty galleries with their minimalist design, their stark white walls and their clientele, dripping with money whose ambition is to pick up something for their walls to match the decor! This is who is buying art these days’.
Molesy looks around him at his small, damp studio with the paint peeling off the walls and forms a plan. He quickly adds the medic angel visual to his website to authenticate his work as he’s started to attract copycats. Then he gets out his pencil and scalpel and sets to work, creating a new stencil.
The next day the gallery owner arrives at the museum to find that overnight a design has appeared on the gleaming white exterior wall of their building. Taking up the full height of the structure, the spray painted exhibit shows a starving artist with pennies in his hand and a wealthy customer with wads of cash in every pocket, smiling as they carry away their latest framed painting. Posted through the door is a note.
Art belongs to the people, not only the rich.
You can have this piece free of charge, and I will upload it to my website to authenticate that it is mine. However I will also tell the story of how your gallery turned down my work year after year as I came to you with my offerings after I graduated.
This will happen at midnight tonight.
If you remove the street art from the side of your building I will also upload the story and photo to my website.
If however you agree to take my back catalogue of works to sell (the work that you originally turned down) I will keep it secret that your gallery failed to spot and sign the street artist who has become a media sensation, and I will allow you to showcase the paintings as ‘Molesy’s early works.’
To agree to this deal, email me via my website.
A few days later as he works in his studio, Molesy smiles as he hears the voice on the radio.
“The art world today celebrated a new master as an underground street artist known only as ‘Molesy’ was paid $20,000 for the sale of his first artwork which was on display at The Museum of Art in the city. The new exhibition which comprises of 30 pieces is set to break records for sales from an unknown artist.”