Street Paintings: Q and A with Michael Kirby
- Will the street painting wash away?
- Answer Yes. In general a street painting will wash away as soon as it rains. But there are precautions that can be taken so that the street painting can last a month year or as long as a year.
- How long does it take to create a street painting?
- Answer The time used to create a street painting varies a lot. For example I had to create a portrait for the Tonight Show in 30 minutes on the pavment. Then I also took a month to create another street painting that was 40 x 20 meters long. But most of the time it takes me abour 4 to 7 days to complete an image.
- How many people do you need to create a street painting?
- Answer Most of the time it is just me with two assistants from my studio. But I have also used 20 people all at once to create a street painting.
- How did you get started in street painting?
- Answer The first street painter I saw was in Boston when I was a kid. His name was Sidewalk Sam. Then I did not see another street painter until I was a teenager in Italy. At the time I needed a job and saw some "madonnari" working in Florence and there names were Claudio Scgorbino and Flavio Coppola. I asked them if I could work there too and the rest is history.
- How do you get paid to do this?
- Answer For the first couple of year in the 1990's I mostly worked for tips in baskets I left around my street painting. Every now and then I got commercial work and festivals but they were more bonuses. It was not until I returned to America in 2002 that I started working only on commission. But I still go out every now and then and just do it for fun.
- What do you do when it rains?
- Answer Don't worry about that, I have it covered.
- How much money can you make doing this?
- Answer All I can say is that it is never enough.
- Can you pick up chicks doing this?
- Answer Yes, that is how I meet my wife.
- What are some difficulties you have had in the past when trying to make a street painting?
- Answer When I worked for tips it was everything. Police, weather, public, homeless, other street artists, vendors, etc. It seemed everytime I went out to work there was a new problem to face. Now working for commissions everything is in a controlled environment.
- Many of your works have been for corporate clients. How do you feel about using chalk art as a means of advertisement? Do you think it is effective?
- Answer So far it has been very effective. In the past I have created interactive pieces where the audience is able to take a photograph with the piece. After which we print out a picture for them with the companies logo. In our computers we had a counter and in general we are able to have over 1,000 prints made in a day. So if 3 people on average are in one shot than we average 3,000 people or viewers that take this little billboard home and share to their friends and family.
- Do you have a favorite chalk art experience? If so, could you please elaborate?
- Answer My favorite experience is working with the Red Cross. In 2005 I traveled across America creating images about Hurricane Katrina. While I was working, the Red Cross was collecting money for the victims of Katrina. We were able to raise 10's of thousands of dollars. I was very happy to see that I was able to be apart of and create work that served others.