Banksy was the first major graffiti star to come out of Bristol but he may not be the last, judging by the many talented artists around today. We meet one of them as part of our Through My Eyes series…
Damos is 20 and for the last seven years he’s been involved in the graffiti scene in Bristol.
Part of the reason why so many artists love this genre is because of the ‘burn’ - where the artist try to outdo each other with colour, graphics and the scale of their images.
Organised graffiti means that a wall is not vandalised and there are some areas in the city where artists can freely paint what they like.
One of the best examples can be found underneath the M32 motorway near the Eastville turn off.
The Bristol graffiti scene has seen some artists rise to fame: from the media-shy Banksy whose images still adorn the city, to up-and-coming Sickboy.
Both these artists have helped put Bristol firmly on the graffiti map and the city is widely respected.
Throughout June 2006, BBC Radio Bristol broadcast a series called Through My Eyes in partnership with CSV, featuring recordings of ordinary and extraordinary people who live and work in Bristol.
The sound was exhibited at Watershed and in local libraries, along with specially-commissioned photographs by students from Filton College.
Following the exhibition, the recordings and photographs were put together by Bristol Stories staff and made available on this site.
Thanks to Vikki Klein and Debra Hearne from BBC Radio Bristol.
Hello, my name’s Damos Santanos. I’m a practicing graffiti artist in Bristol and I’ve been doing it for seven years now. When I first started doing graffiti I was about thirteen years old, in secondary school and it started off on a very simple sort of drawing – doodling basically and then it progressed into what it is today.
Bristol, if you look at it through a kid’s eyes, is quite a dull place really, you’ve only got grey walls and car parks, so that’s why I think the fact that Bristol when I was growing up just at the age when I was getting into it, there was a lot of colour going up because there was a lot of murals getting done.
Bristol does still influence me in my work because there is always going to be a lot of stuff going on and I always see a lot of things in my day-to-day life. It might even be from going to the park and seeing a group of kids playing around. Just things that I see through my eyes.
[Sound of spray can being shaken]
I dunno, I like to take personal experiences and put them onto a wall.
[Sound of spray can]
Alright so in quite a light colour I’m putting my outline up and this is just sort of a face.
The general response from the public is good because we’ve done a lot of public things where you’re either on a main road doing some shutters or you’re working within a community and teaching kids. It just gives me a sense of satisfaction and joy.
[Sound of spray can being shaken]
Trying to like remember what my drawing looks like, keep looking back to my drawing. I don’t really have to think about it too much any more because I’m used to painting the characters.
When I go past my work I always, always always look at it. It always makes me feel great, and if it’s lasted for ages I get more attached to it because I know it’s there and it’s sort of almost like a little piece of me just stood there just sort of saying “Hello! I’m doing good.” and so it’s sort of like that.
At the end of the day, if your art is left and you’re remembered it’s sort of the name of the game it’s like that’s the idea really. It’s sort of like a disease in a way… not a disease, but it’s definitely a big part of my life. My heart lies in graffiti and I think it always will because I’ve been in it for too long now just to forget about it. It’s been a big part of my life.
All photographs not otherwise credited created by Tom Groves, used under copyright licence.
All sound recording not otherwise credited created by BBC Radio Bristol, used under copyright licence.
Extra graffiti pictures created by Mike Warren, Postmodern Monkey, Timlings, www.flickr.com, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence.