The Maboneng precinct and other areas in the inner city of Joburg are fast becoming the graffiti capital of the country.
Graffiti and street art have become an accepted art form for many landlords in the inner city who are using it on their exterior walls; even using it as branding at times.

Property owner David Segal said he opted for graffiti which was common in the area and growing in popularity.

The building, called Black Ginger, in Main Street, is being converted into retail and residential space, with the first tenants moving in on May 1.
Segal used internationally known German graffiti artist Philipp Komen, who was in South Africa for a few days. He worked with local artists Nicholas Kerr and Gaius Araujo. Komen travels internationally to do his artworks and to display at festivals.

“Many commercial building owners now use graffiti artists, which has become accepted and appreciated.

“Many people have the wrong impression about graffiti and street art,” Komen said.

He said there was a difference between street art and graffiti, with the former using wheat paste as a basis. In graffiti, only spray cans and ink pens are used, which has helped it develop into a finer art.

Kerr attended the National School of the Arts in Parktown, Joburg but said he didn’t enjoy the repetitive work. He even pursued other studies until he “found a spray can”.

“Although I indulge in other forms of art, the spray can is my favourite,” he said.

The problem with graffiti is that it has a bad name because of random people who simply vandalise property with spray paint, covering public pillars, bridges and buildings with no permission – and there is no one to stop them, he said.

Kerr said there were different styles and techniques of graffiti. His business is so sought-after that he has opened a studio in Ellis Park.

Segal gave them carte blanche when it came to the artwork.

“He left it up to us. We chose two hands, one black and one white, showing a peace sign, a symbol of unity,” said Kerr. Read more