Daring Backgrounds: Graffiti Style

By Nicole Maki (Perky Nihilist)

I love a fresh crisp piece of hot off the presses paper as much as the next gal – trust me, there is a shelf full of Crop Hoppers bearing witness to my obsession. But sometimes, when I’ve seen the sheet I so desperately covet as the base of the seventh card or the umpteenth scrapbook layout on the blogs I visit I lose heart a bit. Some days it all seems so done.

Luckily I have the perfect pick-me-up for times of paper panic. I make my own. No silly, not the paper itself (although to be honest, I have on occasion) – the pattern that makes it pop 🙂

Supplies: Sorry, can’t help you. What do you have on hand?

I recommend using something sturdy – like watercolor paper – as a bottom layer, but I’ve had equally luscious results on butcher paper, scrapbook paper, card stock, plastic, transparency… see, the sky’s the limit. You also need colored stuff: paint, crayons, markers, ink, tea, colored pencils, Sharpies. And I love to add some layers with text, collage etc. Junk mail, comic books, manga, menus – Anything that goes in our ACME paper art & mixed media kit is perfect. Markers or paint pens for scribbling/journalling are a necessity and stencils are a terrific addition. My favorite “stencils” are the punchinella – you get a variety of hole shapes and sizes. Awesome!

Each piece of make-your-own designer paper will be different. I wanted something with an edgy, urban graffiti feel – kind of Alisa Burke meets inner city. Here’s what I did:

Step One: Dribble paint on edges. Smear around with a baby wipe.

Step Two: Squirt complimentary color in white space. Blend with baby wipe.

Step Three: Spritz with dye mister (I used Glimmer Mist, available at Gauche Alchemy shop).

Step Four: Start adding interest. Here I sprayed close up with fabric spray paint and tilted the paper to make it drip. Then I stenciled some letters haphazardly around the page.

Step Five: Go in with complimentary color  (yellow here) and add large sections of paint. Use punchinella as a stencil by pouncing chalk ink through the holes. I find the pattern unifies the elements.

Step Six: Take a white or metallic paint pen (black is good too but very, very bold) and journal all over the page. I tend to get “stuck” so I often write song lyrics or poems I’ve memorized. Keep it loose and messy. Don’t worry if it looks like ka-ka; it’ll be fine.

Step Seven: This pic is bigger so you can see the details. Rip some text, comics etc and glue them to your substrate. Don’t cover up all your hard work, just add some pieces here and there. Then go over it again with paint, punchinella and stencils until it integrates into the piece. If the look seems unbalanced don’t worry about it. If you can’t not worry *raises hand* then add a few dribs and drabs of dry brushed paint to make it look right to your eye. In this example, I added the green paint to the edges. Made all the difference in the world. Now leave it alone to dry.

Step Eight: It’s so horrible I couldn’t take a picture. Kill your darling! What? Cut this beautiful piece of awesomeness into useable pieces. *GASP* I know!

Here’s some ideas: Card Front and ATC Blanks. Keep your scraps, they’re awesome to craft with.

Then wow your friends and yourself by making cool projects. This card was made with the ATC scraps:

Features: Punchinella, Career Girl Mixed Media Kit, Scarlet Fever Mixed Media Kit and Bombshell Stamps.

I made little vignettes with Foreign Text and Wholly Sheet:

and attached them to the (matted) ATC Blanks.

Urban Angels:

These ATCs feature Bombshell Stamps and wings from the beading section at Michaels.

Thanks so much for joining me as I made my own Daring Background: Graffiti Style. It’s truly a ton of fun and the results are well worth the effort.


20 Responses

  1. OMG Nicole! OMG! I love these so much I just can’t even tell you how much! Your Bombshell Angels are just stunning beyond stunningness!

    Am having so much fun in the Alisa Burke class… in NO way brave enough to cut into anything yet 😛 It’s all journal pages at the mo.

  2. Thank you, Carmen. You are so nice!

    I haven’t even read a word of the AB class yet – no time – thanks to your messages I at least logged in. I can’t wait to be your classmate though 🙂

  3. oooooh, guess what I will be doing for my morning crafty stuff…among other things crafty?!?! Following Nicoles steps.
    I’ve got 5 or 6 of my big papers that I’ve never been able to cut into. I’ve learned the hard way to take close up photos so that I can either use them as photos or print them out on cardstock, I also cut my fave part out at about 9×12 and glue it to cardboard to copy in color or sometimes in black and white.

  4. I know I’ve said this already Nicole, but it bares repeating…


  5. Joyce,

    I never though to make copies. That’s totally brilliant. Great idea. I think I’ll try it next time. Glad you liked the tutorial – getting messy is so much fun!


    Thanks so much. I had a blast!

  6. Holy crap, these are AWESOME, Nicole!

  7. *BLUSH*

    Thanks so much, Amy.

  8. Nicole, these are of course way cool. The girls look like some sort of anime superheroes!! The way you built and layered these is truly amazing!!

  9. Thank you, Kas ~

    Gauche Alchemy and Bombshell are a match made in heaven – they just work together so well!

  10. Nicole, you are just my style goddess. You are truly, truly remarkable, my friend!

    These are just so gorgeous and inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing the step-by-step!

    Definitely have to keep my eye out for fabric spray paint and those gorgeous wings! =)


  11. *faint*

    loooooooooooooooooooooooove these!!!!!

    Gotta get those stamps (still haven’t! lol) You did an amazing job on all of these projects! Just amazing!

  12. oh wow wowowowowowowowowowwwwooowowow.
    these are inspired and luscious and i want one 🙂
    and want to make one …

  13. Wow. Stunningly awesomely wow. Love!

  14. GAH! This totally rocks, love it!!! 🙂

  15. Very cool! Great tutorial!

  16. WOWZERS!! These are so amazing, Nicole!! I don’t know how you do it all!! Seriously, fan-freakin’-tastic!!!

  17. Awesome Nic!

  18. […] shares a tutorial for creating graffiti style backgrounds for scrapbooking and paper crafts. Click here to go to tutorial. You may also […]

  19. I do these all the time when I’m in a creative rut. Just pounding out tons of random “junk” to cut up and ending up with a pile of wonderfulness always breaks me out of the rut.

  20. I love it

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