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August 26, 2008

Profiles - Braylyn Stewart - Graffiti Artist

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Braylyn Stewart, 24, wasn’t born in Louisville, but he credits the street-energy here for his distinct brand of art, a blend of graffiti and traditional painting. 

Stewart became immersed in calligraphy and lettering while in middle school and studied traditional painting in Manual’s visual arts program in high school. His first encounter with graffiti was when he met New York artist Sen-One while painting a mural at the now-defunct Basement Skateshop on Clay Street. “He gave me my first can of paint, and I just really liked it and got into it more and more,” Stewart says.

He soon found himself researching graffiti artists online and rolling their techniques into his work. He cites New York graffiti artists and “train bombers” such as Cope2 and Futura as his favorites. “That’s where my main influence comes from,” he says. But these days, he typically sticks to commercial work — rather than painting on private or city property. “I kind of have too much to lose to get caught,” he says, explaining the high risk of arrest that non-commercial graffiti entails.

That risk in itself has led Stewart and many other graffiti artists to branch out into canvas painting for galleries, murals for area businesses and even creating designs for skateboard decks, sneakers and tattoos. Stewart served as an apprentice at Twisted Images for nearly a year under owner Rodney Adams and did his first tattoo on himself. “It’s on my upper leg, so I had to do it upside down and backwards,” he says. 

Locally, Stewart has painted murals for numerous private residences and local businesses. He says freelance work can be hard to come by, but the keys are quality work and networking. “I get my contacts through jobs I do, mostly referrals, but I just do a good job for people and they pass my name along,” he says. 

Stewart will soon begin a permanent mural for the Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center, and, along with friend Logan Guyer, has launched a clothing company called S.A.F., which he plans to market nationally. Keep up with Stewart at myspace.com/breakheartsnotfaces. —Aaron Frank

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