Reina Barnes enjoys creating signs in her own personal graffiti style.

Reina Barnes enjoys creating signs in her own personal graffiti style.

Graffiti style makes for interesting signage

The word graffiti often carries all sorts of negative connotations.

Tara Sprickerhoff

Tribune Staff Writer

The word graffiti often carries all sorts of negative connotations.

People think of it as a crime, ugly and something that needs to be removed.

Reina Barnes however, has taken a different approach to what she calls the “art form” of graffiti.

Her work is personalized, fun, and above all, legal.

Barnes, 25, who paints what she calls “urban art,” is new to showing and selling her work, but at this year’s Street Party during Stampede weekend, she could be found in front of Two Doors Down Consignment with a number of her graffiti-inspired pieces.

Her artwork, unlike traditional graffiti artists, is done on a base of recycled wood (not buildings) and features  a base of spray paint with overlying details painted in acrylics.

Although Barnes has always been interested in art, taking art classes in school, sketching and painting, she discovered this new medium two years ago.

“A friend of mine that I met here one summer was a graffiti artist. I know graffiti is vandalism and is bad for you and blah blah blah and everyone despises it, but I think that the art work isn’t really appreciated for what it is. After he taught me, I went with it.”

Originally, most of Barne’s work was personalized and given as gifts for friends or family.

“I like personalizing it because you can make it more appealing to the person that has it,” she said.

Soon after she started giving her art as gifts, her friends and family started pushing her to show her work and even sell it.

Barnes worked for almost a year to create nine pieces she could display and the Street Party was the first time she had shown her work to the general public.

“It’s pretty cool that people liked it,” she said. “It’s different, it’s not really the same as what everybody does, like those scenery pictures, but I think its fun because it is really colourful and you can make it personalized.”

Most of Barnes’ work features a graffiti-style word with some sort of detailing or design around it.

Although Barnes sold two pieces at the Street Party — a fact she is quite pleased with — she had never really considered selling her art before.

“Art’s not really my job. I don’t think I really want to have it as my job because it’s not. It’s my hobby. It’s something that I’m passionate about and I think that if I have it as a job it might ruin it a little bit,” she said.

Barnes works doing tax preparation at H&R Block, next door to Two Doors Down Consignment, her mom Daphne Johnson’s store, where some of her art is currently on displayed.

Born and raised in Williams Lake, Barnes lives with her boyfriend and her “babies,” her two miniature pomeranians Mercedes and Sassy, and Koda, a Rottwieller rescued from an unhappy home.

In her free time, Barnes hula hoops for exercise and takes the time to go hunting with a compound bow, a skill she learned from her grandfather. Art, however, remains one of Barnes’ favourite activities.

“I do it to relax. It helps me think and not get stressed out.”