Fostering creativity and connectivity in remote teams can certainly be a challenge, but Spark'n host Ari looked internally to find a unique way to achieve this. As a street artist, a tour guide, and a walking encyclopedia of New York graffiti history, Ari has translated his passion into an interactive activity for team to bond with the simple pen and paper. Hear how he does it below.
My Spark comes from my passion for New York street art, specifically graffiti. NYC has long been known for its rich graffiti history, a cultural heartbeat of many neighborhoods. The pioneers of this movement opened the doors to not only hip-hop, breakdancing, and fashion trends, but all the range of artistic mediums you see today across the city and outwards to my borough of Brooklyn.
While graffiti has long been seen as vandalism or a form of urban decay, I believe it to be a phenomenal outlet for personal expression and storytelling. So my Spark is all about energizing teams and embracing the artistic side we all have by creating our very own graffiti tags. Together, we’ll explore some simple drawing techniques as we learn from the masters of this art form and create some amazing pieces in just minutes!
I like to think it was a mixture of buying an old film camera as young as 15 years old, and coming from a family of immigrants from Honduras, who (lucky for me) had a big passion for global travel. I was fortunate to visit many booming cities for graffiti and street art at a young age—London, Miami, Berlin to name a few— all serving as a doorway into the lives of the people in those spaces. Inevitably, I packed up to NYC after finishing university and never looked back. I lived all over Brooklyn, always going out with my Nikon at hand, attending countless art shows, and working various creative gigs in the area.Years later, I would become a lead street art host and tour guide in some ofBrooklyn’s most art-centric neighborhoods.
My hope is that through my SparkI can get folks just as excited as I get about putting pen to paper, whilst also offering them a taste of a subculture that so often gets overlooked on our travels.
The world seemed to shut down overnight. I had to say bye-bye to all my in-person tours, the new friends I’d connect with every week, and head right back to the ‘drawing board’, so to speak. I dug into my old photo archives and attempted to make lemonade from lemons. Over some months, I was able to buildout an immersive virtual tour experience by merging a range of video and photo content into a curated hour.
While we don’t get to travel to Brooklyn in person as easily these days, we do now get to move at a speed that defies the boundaries of time. In other words—I get to transport people back into the 70’s and 80’s to see artists tagging up trains. We can easily visit 3times as many neighborhoods in ⅓ of the time, compared to a standard walking tour.
There have been so many special moments, but one particular couple who attended my online experience definitely comes to mind:
An elderly woman was set up in a lavish, decorative room. She was sitting on a large armchair that must have gone back generations, enjoying the tour from a distance on a monitor/projector. She was based in the UK.. you know... where tea and crumpets is a thing. Funny enough, another elderly man would hop into the camera view halfway into the tour, offering those exact items to her on a super ornamental silver platter (Whoa..!? Do they know theRoyal family? I kept thinking to myself).
As the next mural was popping up on screen I saw both their eyes light up. He had been standing in awe for some time before she finally invited him to sit with her. They both stayed cozied up on that arm chair together, smiling and laughing together through the rest of the experience. It felt like two worlds colliding, but in a beautiful way. It was as though I was right there on the couch with those two lovebirds, as weird as I realize that may sound! This pandemic has been devastating to countless lives, but thanks to technology, and moments like those, it can leave my cup full for weeks on end.
Ah yes, of course this question would come up! Well, while the little mermaid (Ariel) and I might share the same name (along with a mutual love fo rbeing under the sea), Mufasa from the Lion King is number one in my Disney catalog. He’s got a whole animal kingdom to manage and does it with pride, bravery, and ease. Plus, who doesn’t love the wisdom that radiates out of JamesEarl Jones’ voice!
Also, I know you didn’t ask, but I’m referring to the classic Lion King. I’ll leave my thoughts on the new one out of this, thanks! ;p
If you want to find your own inner artist, join Ari on his Spark "Make your mark with a Brooklyn street artist" today!