Graffiti artists take part in Vancouver’s first-ever live competition

More than a dozen graffiti artists are hard at work this weekend, taking part in Vancouver’s first-ever live graffiti competition.

Called Clean Lines Graff Jam, the event is also sponsored by the City of Vancouver.

“We’re celebrating street art and all that it is,” Trey Helten, a street artist and organizer of the event, told Global News Saturday.

Vancouver’s first-ever legal graffiti wall launched in the Downtown Eastside last summer and the artist deemed to have the best piece in this competition will win a cash prize.

The blank canvases are the walls of the alley at 133 West Pender St.

All business owners and residents have given their consent for the wall art to take place.

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“Graffiti gets a bad rap but the reality of it is, (if) you talk to any graffiti artist, it’s kept them out of more serious trouble,” Helten said.

“It’s a good thing and it makes alleyways more colourful for people.”

Kyle Shipman, another organizer of the event, told Global News it is a “giant milestone” for the city.

“There isn’t really a graffiti festival in Vancouver,” Shipman added. “There’s Mural Fest, but that’s more geared towards muralists and this is more accessible. It’s more for the graffiti writer that may not have the opportunity to express themselves at another festival.”

He said organizers would love to put the event on next year and for many years to come.

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Anyone can go down to see the graffiti artists at work and the decision on who wins will be announced on Sunday.

Helten said the City of Vancouver is well-placed to open up more opportunities for street art and involve street artists, potentially even legalizing street art in parts of the city.

Meanwhile, the legal graffiti wall is up for review later this year.

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