For more than ten years, Trenton’s graffiti art community has offered master classes to the public. As the art session season approaches, it’s time to learn how to refine the art of the spray.

Graffiti art lessons will be held every Saturday between April 3 and June 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lessons are divided into three increasingly difficult sessions: Session 1: Design, Color & Style (April 3,10,17 and 24); Session 2: Painters Touch (May 1,8,15 and 22); and Session 3: Can Control (June 5,12 and 19). Sessions cost $180 for session 1-3 (pre-registered), $70 for 1 session (pre-registered) and $20 each class (the day of).

“We had an Ambitious Styles graffiti art class for awhile now and then we switched the name to Art of the Spray,” said local graffiti artist and head curator of the course, Leon Rainbow. “When we switched it, we kind of tried to change it to be focused on meeting people where they were at with art, rather than having them do straight graffiti pieces.”

Rainbow, along with other local artists and course instructors Mek, Egad and Ras, have seen creatives with a wide range of skills. From 13 year-old teens looking to step foot into the graffiti art space to 50+ year-old art scholars looking to perfect this niche technique, Rainbow and the Trenton graffiti community teach all artists through the Art of the Spray sessions.

Session 1: Design, Color & Style will begin virtually over Zoom this year. This beginner course will go over the style of graffiti starting at its origin. “[Session 1 classes] are like the design and history classes,” said Rainbow. “It’s really just giving people an idea of where graffiti came from and what the culture is about, and then really just trying to get them to create a design like a name with some characters and some background.”

He continued, “Then, when it comes time to paint, they have a concept and idea…So, hopefully after the four weeks, you have basically a mock up of what you want to do on the wall.”

Artists are faced with the wall by May. For Session 2: Painters Touch, the artists will meet at TerraCycle, located at 121 New York Ave in Trenton, to turn the learned concepts from session one, such as perspective, shading, dimension and color theory, into actual murals. In this next-level session, the painters will transform their refined sketches on paper into larger works.

Rainbow said, “I feel like after those eight weeks, if you can do like a simple piece with a character, maybe with a little bit of background, that’s amazing; but I’m not saying necessarily that everybody will be able to do it, because it’s just one of those things where it takes a lot of practice.”

It has taken Rainbow over 20 years of graffiti art to obtain the skills he has today. With art of his and his peers plastered across the city of Trenton, it is easy for the community to forget just how difficult it is to perfect this art form.

“It’s just like playing the guitar. When you see somebody perform on stage, it looks really easy, but then when you try to pick up the guitar it’s not like that,” said Rainbow. “You really got to take your time and learn the different parts about it, and learn how to put the different chords together, and learn music. There’s just a lot to it, and it’s the same way with graffiti and and using spray paint.”

He continued, “I feel like once you get it down, there’s a lot you could do with it, but it takes a while to really get a mastery over it.”

According to Rainbow, Session 3: Can Control, is one of the most challenging concepts in graffiti art to learn. Spray paint has versatile capabilities and benefits for creation, however, learning to master the technique is what differentiates beginner artists to advanced.

“One of the things that is very difficult is to really get down is the can control,” said Rainbow. “The advantage of using spray paint is that it dries very quickly, you get really soft blends, and you can get really hard shapes. You could do things relatively quickly, but there is a learning curve as far as learning how to do it.”

Although the three part graffiti art sessions increase in difficulty as the months go by, Rainbow encourages artists from every skill level to join this community class. At the end of the end, along with the learned skills from the course, every member enrolled will have a chance to enjoy themselves while socializing with the art community of Trenton.

“The good thing about it is just being out and over there at Terracycle,” said Rainbow. “We all kind of try to have fun.”

Masks are mandatory for all Art of the Spray sessions. Social distancing and other precautions will be observed based on the State of N.J., and the City of Trenton safety guidelines. For more information on how to register for Art of the Spray, click HERE. 

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