Wall confessions

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Monday, March 24, 2014


YOU will find them along the highways, in deserted buildings and even in impossible stinky gutters. Have you ever wondered who’s behind the burst of imagination in fresh dynamic colors (read: murals) popping up everywhere around the metro?

Others want to sing or dance but Hardchick and Karingkay want to paint. Sprayers in their hands, stains on their skin, the “pseudonymous” tandem is a Cebu-based graffiti duo who can’t seem to get enough of the traditional canvas.

With roots in the early ‘70s, graffiti is an umbrella of ocular art which goes beyond the norms, equating to controversy, which is really sad.

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That graffiti is total freedom is Hardchick and Karingkay’s dispute. Even if their works get covered up the next day, this passion to paint is an impressive contribution in itself to the progressive art sector down south.

“People keep on seeing new things from us and they’d think, hey, these guys are active, Cebu’s art scene must really be alive,” they related.

Like most of you, Hardchick and Karingkay observe that opposite to those artworks housed in suave galleries, graffiti is almost a taboo, at least here in the Philippines; synonymous with the youth’s decay and all things unhealthy. The pair described an undersized local graffiti scene.

Occasionally, players, even those from overseas, drop by for collaborations. Although conflicts fire up quickly, it’s all good; a little rivalry spices things up.

Hardchick, the she and Karingkay, the he, don’t tell people their real names, not because they are paranoid, but because anonymity gives them room to project their art. They are scribbling their way through college completion. Ironically, they are not art students. The nearest things they had to art school are cheap watercolors and crayons for some elementary and high school assignments. Their art inclination evolved naturally.

Under the influence of Sever and Nekst of Los Angeles graffiti mob, Mad Society Kings among others, Karingkay strikes mainly on characters, specializing in female portraits in bold outlines and clean details, mostly done in black and white. The simple color combo may have stemmed from the lad not having spare cash to buy paints before. Hardchick, who admires international female graffiti artists Klor of 123Klan and Hera of Herakut, enjoys a mishmash of characters and letters, incorporating cute, colorful and sometimes gritty icons.

Buying paints from their own pockets went on for awhile until something more engaging developed somewhere along the strokes.

“There is no money with graffiti (but there’s lots of fun) and we don’t go about relying on mom and dad for cash. We can’t afford the lifestyle and paint is not cheap,” Karingkay was blunt.

In 2008, Karingkay banded with a bunch of original pioneers and founded Blanko Clothing, a school project (named by another friend) turned into a creative sideline for Karingkay and Hardchick, whom officially teamed up circa 2010.

The demographic of followers stretch from tee fans to those who had not the faintest hint of street art. Orders have made it across the board, to the United Kingdom and Japan while a deal is underway in the United States. It’s interesting their shirts have been to places they haven’t even been to.

Hardchick and Karingkay paint because they want to. Anything good or bad that comes out of it is technically a by-product and is not intentional. They are basically two individuals trying to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, the underground business of painting the town, the rad and responsible way goes on because graffiti is not a crime, alright.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 25, 2014.

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