Moss Graffiti – A Unique Tool in a Guerrilla Gardener’s Arsenal

by Diane Vautier on January 10, 2012


Lately, I’ve become fascinated by the idea of Guerrilla Gardening; the idea of covertly beautifying barren or run down areas of a City to make it more green, inviting and alive with the spirit of green. One of the more interesting ways I’ve found that Guerrilla Gardeners combat urban ugly worldwide is the use of Moss Graffiti.

Moss Graffiti is nothing like the territorial, spray-paint kind of street art that covers many walls, bridges, and lonely freight cars. This is something more alive and organic. It’s green garden art that adds a vitality and warmth to the dark, dank corners of any dull city landscape.  And it’s outlandishly cool.

From what I can tell, there are three ways to create Moss Graffiti. You can grow a whole wall of it and then remove the area you don’t want making a reverse design, stencil it on and watch it grow into your design, or paste it on in a ready-made fashion.

Strook, Reverse Moss Graffiti

When I consider all three moss graffiti methods, it appears that the initial method seems to takes the most time, planning and talent. First you have to find a wall that has the right conditions to easily grow moss and then seed the entire space with moss growing medium. Then you have to regularly water the wall so the moss grows into a large lush carpet. Once the wall is green, the graffiti artist then removes the unwanted moss using a high powered pressure washer. The result is a beautiful moss graffiti design. Beautiful that is, if you have the talent to create design using negative space. In my case this might be a bit of a challenge, but not for Belgian artist Stefaan De Croock  (a.k.a. Strook).

Moss Graffiti, Mosstika

The second method seems much more approachable for the average moss graffiti artist like me. Using a stencil or free hand paintbrush, you apply the moss growing medium to the surface and regularly spray it with water until the moss grows, revealing the stencil pattern as graffiti . This still takes a lot of time and effort, but doesn’t need as much creative talent to achieve if you use an outline.  This is one way Brooklyn artist Edina Tokodi (A.K.A. Mosstika) brings some green wildlife to New York City.

Moss Graffiti, Anna Garforth

The last moss graffiti method is the fastest and perhaps the most immediately visable. It involves pasting already grown moss directly to the wall surface using a flour-like paste.  The beauty of this method is that is quick and can be grown in advance in whatever shape you’d like or cut from already grown sheets of moss. Because it is applied rather than grown in place though, I do question its longevity. Would it easily wash away in a heavy rain, fall off if it got too dry or survive a strong wind?  London-based artist, Anna Garforth doesn’t seem to have had any issues with her paste-in-place creations.

All these Moss Graffiti methods have their merits, and you could use whatever method appeals most to you and your level of talent.  For me, I think I may try all three. I’m so excited, I just can’t wait for spring.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barb January 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I really like this idea! They did a fine job of getting the typography correct on that moss graffiti. ;)

2 Nikki April 3, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Do you know if the moss needs to be alive or dries out before you make the recipe to graffiti?

3 Diane Vautier April 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I’d find some moss outside and use that, not the dried kind you find at the craft shops. The live moss contains the live plant that will grow.

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