You’re catching the train as a kid, and on your journey to wherever it may be, you look at the window and see endless graffiti along the train line. All over the city, you see said graffiti, but it all just appears one day, almost overnight, you never see who does it.
Now as an adult, you see people painting and spraying on the side of a local business or an alleyway in pure daylight, but not as vandalism, but as pure art.
Before the glitz and glam of street art today, once upon a time it was a much more clandestine affair, a criminal activity you just did not see in daylight, it was done at night by men of darkness.
“I remember when I was a kid, I used to catch the train to school, and I would see all the graffiti and all the pieces along the train lines and for me it was always a mystery,” street artist Man of Darkness tells Neos Kosmos.
“I never knew anyone who did graffiti, and I never knew who did it or when they did it, there was this underground subculture to it, it was a lot more underground when I was a kid than what it is today.”
Man of Darkness is a Greek-Cypriot-Australian street artist based in Melbourne, whose real name is George Manioudakis – read his surname again and you’ll realise where his artist name comes from – and because society did not support street art back then, he tapped into his creativity through graphic design.
But the corporate life was not for him, and Manioudakis moved away from a career in graphic design as society slowly began to accept street art.
He still dabbles in that area however, as he runs a digital agency called Mod Creative, where he delves in web design, street art, graphic design, photography and stencil art workshops.
“These days it is a legitimate career path, street art, there’s a lot of opportunities,” he said.
“A lot of councils want work done, workshops with the youth, there’s a lot of corporate opportunities and it’s also just more supportive by society in general.”
Workshops with the youth are where Manioudakis helps inspire teens and young adults to express themselves through street art.
This month, during the school holidays, the City of Melbourne is running a program called Signal, for 14-25-year-olds on Northbank in the heart of the city from September 19 to 28.
The creative studio will be an opportunity for young people to work alongside professional artists in a collaborative way, through multi-artform workshops and mentoring.
Activities range from botanical illustration, clay making, monoprinting, drypoint etching and of course street art.
Manioudakis will help run the street art workshops (Sep 19 and 20), just as he has been doing for a few years.
In addition to providing tips on technique, he says the program provides an opportunity to kids that he did not have growing up.
“As a mentor I show young people what a professional artist looks like and that it is possible,” he said.
“I don’t remember ever being told that being a professional artist was possible for a career path, I kind of found out later in life that that if I apply myself, I can.
“Voicing that journey to these kids and inspiring them to express themselves in productive manners and channelling their energy into creating artwork.”
More information about street art workshops or the Signal program, here.
You can also check out Manioudakis at his Instagram @manofdarkness