Col’s Chat – Locals through my Lens – Travis Vinson aka DRAPL

Col’s Chat –

Locals through my Lens

Travis Vinson aka DRAPL

Mention the words graffiti artist and it’s hard to park your prejudice or mistrust. Surely, it’s going to be some teenager with their pants hanging down, Bevis and Butt-Head t-shirt, and oversized sneakers? 

Then you meet Travis. A quiet, thoughtful, considered and hugely talented individual who wants to realise his own creativity and that of his community. A man who is giving back and encouraging those looking for a path away from those stereotypes. 

“My art is about time and place. The image doesn’t have to last, but the message has to be kind, helpful; conveying good messages is important to me”. 

Most of us will know Travis’ amazing work on the wall of the Red Hill Cinema, brand work for the likes of Disney, XXXX, Hendricks or Below Deck; or his addition to the silo series of Australia Post stamps with his work at Thallon. His work is in demand, as he brings back the analog in a time where digital is becoming increasingly expensive. But, growing up in The Gap, it didn’t start that way.

“I started with graffiti – as many kids do – with a need to rebel. I was inspired by the colours and styles of graffiti out at the Wacol railyards and thought, ‘I want to do that’.”

After hitting trouble with the authorities, Travis realised that with such passion for the art, he had to prioritise his work and future. “I started with signage: cafes, a florist and kid’s bedrooms. A jack of all trades creatively. I began to develop my own style, and then got to work on water towers at Peregian and Mooloolaba; before tackling the 35m high silo at Thallon; a job that took two and half weeks”. 

Arriving in small country towns with his reputation as a graffiti artist, he was not always taken kindly to by the locals. “It was important to get a feel for the town and the community. To get to know the key elements that feed the area. I would give back by running workshops with local artists, and provide free, smaller pieces, often reflective of local individuals. It is important to me to overcome the misperceptions, prejudices and expectations.”

So just how do you paint a 35m tower? “With smaller jobs we might use a projector initially. For larger jobs, some people use a grid system, and join up the lines; but if you make one mistake, it’s a problem. I use words, hieroglyphics, even poems to differentiate parts of the design. It’s like one big jigsaw puzzle.”

Everything that Travis does has to be positive. Designs have to be considered for the appropriateness of the environs. But how does the future look for his trade, and for others who want to follow that path?

“There are two different sides to grafitti. Of course, there’s the poor perception, but there is such positivity there too. For example, the Lord Mayor has just announced legal walls to help people express themselves. This is a great step forward. For me, it has been an amazing career: I’ve made friends all over the world. It’s important to not confuse the artist with the tag kid, but it also important to recognise and provide some hope for those who want to release their creativity. For example, I received a call from a school principal asking if I could help a kid who was falling through the cracks to encourage them to launch their own career path. It’s so easy to go down the wrong path. It’s important that they don’t waste talent. I consider that kid like a son now; and have helped many others.”

Whatever your preconceived ideas are about street art, this is a man who is sharing his joy and talent on the biggest canvas, and in the end, we are all the beneficiaries of these beautiful creations. 

Author: Colin Bushell

Photo credit: @the_zookeeper