In the news this week...

A week ago the London Free Press did an article about graffiti crimes on the front page and included a picture of my work in thier article here mistakenly eluding that my work was illegal. My name wasn't mentioned and I was just happy to have my artwork on the frontpage of the weekend edition. So in responce and correction yesterday the London Free Press did an article about my graffiti work. The link to the article is here but I'm also posting the entire article below for those who want to read it.
Spray painter crusades for tolerance, Christianity
By Jane Sims The London Free Press
Richard Phillips says he thinks in spray paint.
“It’s just beautiful,” says the 26-year-old London graffiti artist.
He marvels at how the thick lines of paint meld together on a wall, shading his message of Christianity and hope.
He likes that he doesn’t need brushes or an easel and that his ideas spring to life quickly and with colour.
In a King St. alley, he points to a couple among 20 pieces he has in the city. In total, he says shyly, there are 200 of his paintings “around.” One of his pieces is based on Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but with a silhouette of a spray-paint artist in the foreground.
Unlike some graffiti art that pops up around the city, Phillips paints only in places where he has permission.
That’s put him in a weird place in the graffiti world. He sees merit in some of the unwanted art, while hardcore members of the graffiti culture don’t like his legitimate approach.
Graffiti artists, Phillips insists, are not “mindless vandals.”
This week, Benjamin Pavlov, a teenager tagger with a prolific portfolio around the city, faces a jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to 21 charges for mischief and breaching his probation — the second time this year he’s been arrested for tagging.
Phillips, who works at Teen Challenge farm and has a background in social services, doesn’t agree that the man who used “Dark” and “Hore” as his tag should go to jail.
“People’s lives have been ruined over something that can be painted over,” he says.
So Phillips has another idea — a city initiative to put a wall in a public place exclusively for graffiti art.
“It would be great if the city had a free wall to express themselves,” he says.
He knows there would have to be a change in attitude.
“The city and many people of the city don’t want to put a wall in the middle of nowhere where people can paint on because they think it is encouraging graffiti artists,” he says.
Now, the bylaw threatens even legitimate street art, he says. “If it was a brush, it would be allowed.”
Phillips doesn’t sign his pieces, but they’re easily spotted. They are colourful and precise and spread a message of Christianity.
“I do it to spread the message of Jesus. He changed my life and that’s why I do it,” he says.
His first mural, done with a friend, was six years ago. His church had been vandalized and with the permission of the pastor, Phillips and his friend painted over the unwanted graffiti with their own work.
Since then, he has travelled all over North America — California, New York City, Mexico — to learn and to paint.
Phillips said he reaches out to other artists who may be looking for a place to explore their passion. He finds them walls to create their vision and “create something beautiful.”
But he also has faced the criticism and scrutiny. He has been threatened while buying spray paint, and was attacked once for his legitimate approach to the art form, he says.
Criticism has been rare, he adds quickly, noting many in society appreciate his efforts.
Any business owner can call on him to work for free. And he’s there for those who want to express themselves.
“I’ve dedicated my life to trying to help people,” he says.