On the side of a building, these strokes of paint are considered vandalism, but on canvas it has value.
Fifteen-year-old Jonas Powell is making his mark. "I started calling it pacified graffiti because it doesn't have the whole stigma of spray paint and the vandalism, but it still has the feeling and colors I think," he said.
The Charlotte 10th grader draws and paints words, people or anything else he's in the mood for. Take a picture of a well-known hip hop artist.
Reporter Gina Bullard: "I think this is funny because it shows your age -- kid cudi. How do you decide who to draw and paint?"
Jonas Powell: "I go through phases. For a month I'll have nothing to do so I write school, math. Like right now I'm in a phase where so many people want my stuff and have ideas for what I should do."
One method he uses -- a form of stenciling. He layers cut out shapes to create depth. "In theory you can cut a piece of paper, go to a wall and spray paint it, but I do more layers than it would be possible to do on," Powell said.
One of his favorites pieces depicts a cow with a Burger King crown on. "I named it 'Burger Prince,'" he said. "It's the beginning to a burger."
Powell wants his work to serve a dual purpose -- layers of art and messages that are sometimes political. "Art looks cool but I think it's neat when it has a second layer behind it," he said.
It's a complex process. Powell spends hours carefully examining contrasting colors -- in order to perfect his portraits. "It takes me eight hours to get the design. You can do it in three minutes in Photoshop, but I say Photoshop is for cheaters," Powell said.
And his diligence is paying off. Powell is selling his paintings for 25 to 50 dollars. He is also getting a business lesson. "Now that I've started charging, it makes it a lot more motivating," he said. "I'm learning business is not fun and art is."
Reporter Gina Bullard: "So time for a manager?"
Jonas Powell: "That's what I'm thinking."
But there are more than just monetary benefits for Powell. With homework and sports, his artwork also provides a therapeutic outlet. "I got really grumpy last week because I hadn't drawn and I had an awful Friday and last night I drew for an hour and that really helped my day today," he said.
A young artist, painting a positive spin on an often misunderstood art form. Work that brings value to those who appreciate art and those who create it.
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