Mr. Krauss by Day, SPRAY by Night
By Becky Hardy, Amy Datiz, Heath Scholl, Hannah Wilcox
Rob Krauss thinks street art is important and awesome, but he strongly opposes vandalism. Working under the name SPRAY, Krauss may use spray paint for his stencil art on paper, but he has discovered a way to express his creativity and ideas that does not destroy public property: drawing in chalk.
Krauss decided to use chalk when creating his street work because he believes that chalk is not a form of vandalism; it does not damage any property and it easily washes off. "It is a big part of me not to do vandalism. I don't believe in destroying other people's properties," said Krauss.
However, he has run into situations with the police. Occasionally, he says, he will draw and discover a police officer behind him. After explaining that he's using sidewalk chalk, the police are usually fine with it. In one instance, this was not the case. "...[O]ne time I was at an arts festival down at Penn's Landing and I was doing a big mural on a brick... public wall, and security kicked me out of the arts festival... they said it was vandalism, but I still say it's not vandalism," said Krauss.
Krauss became known as SPRAY through his earlier works. "SPRAY came from some of my earlier paintings.... My art is kind of a commentary on street art... I was doing these paintings of different sprays.... So, SPRAY kind of developed out of doing those art works and it just became a separate persona. I always like superheroes, so it is kind of fun having an alter ego," said Krauss.
Not only does Krauss take time to illustrate, but he also teaches. At Constitution High School, he teaches art to students, and has made an impact on their lives. "I have some students that were very into the graffiti world, and before they met me, they were going out tagging all the time. And then, after working with them, now they go out with chalk and they'll go out together in groups, and they will go 'chalk bombing,' which is really cool," said Krauss.
One of his previous students, Dave Tillman, affirms that Krauss has made a huge impact on his life. Tillman was one of the students that walked into Krauss's class using graffiti, and walked out drawing with chalk. Krauss has also helped him with other things, such as stencil work and fine art. "I just met the man, and he's amazing," said Tillman.
He also tries to impact the lives of children in his neighborhood. He said his neighbors have two young daughters that draw with sidewalk chalk. Once when they were asleep, he came out and drew a character holding a heart for them in front of their home. A couple days later, he noticed that the girls wrote "thank you" with chalk on the drawing.
Krauss seems to be his own kind of superhero: Mr. Krauss by day, SPRAY by night.