Paint the Future: Canceptual

Innovating next-gen spray paint packaging

When Lance Armstrong rode the Tour de France, he didn’t use a stock bike from the local bike shop. Rather, Trek Bicycles designed a bespoke state-of-the-art bike for him to ride. Conversely, when a professional graffiti artist like renowned L.A. artist Man One gets-up, his tools are limited to what is available “off the shelf.” But, how would spray paint technology and packaging be designed if created specifically for Man One and other artists like him? Paint the Future answered that question.

Traditionally, global paint brands such as Krylon have been reluctant to address the unique artistic needs of graffiti artists due to concerns over vandalism. Premium niche paint brands such as Montana and Belmont have worked hard to create a large color palette of high quality paint graffiti artists can count on to meet their discerning expectations. Yet, largely due to the significant capital investment associated with manufacturing innovation, the paint can itself hasn’t changed much at all. Krylon has the money necessary to do it, but no political will. Montana and Belmont have the will, but lack the funds.

Putting politics and commercial barriers aside, our partner agency, Chicago-based professional packaging design firm Studio One Eleven, a division of Berlin Packaging, agreed to collaborate with us and world-renowned graffiti artist Man One to envision the future of spray paint technology and packaging. Together, they created Canceptual: Paint the Future, a first-of-its kind packaging design exhibit held in Los Angeles in 2011.

STATEMENT FROM STUDIO ONE ELEVEN — At Studio One Eleven, we are constantly motivated to enhance the objects we interact with, especially those that have existed for so long that their limitations have come to be accepted. In discussing the Paint the Future project with Man One, we knew instantly this engagement was a fit. Through Studio One Eleven’s observations and conversations with Man One, it became clear to us that a considerable amount of talent and energy is spent working around—rather than with—the media. Existing spray cans’ configurations are almost entirely driven by manufacturing material and process limitations with little or no consideration given to the user. The result forces artists to adopt (often inelegant) compensation techniques. By looking to the future of what these tools could be and elevating the priority of users’ needs, we sought to offer all writers and artists freedom from the limitations of traditional cans and new media for exploration. — The Team @ Studio One Eleven

STATEMENT FROM MAN ONE — Can control is the mark of any talented aerosol artist and is paramount to creating my artwork. Mastery of the can takes years of practice to achieve because the spray can in its current form is not optimized for creating art.  Although the pigments and paint formulas have been upgraded over the years to satisfy the modern artist, from a design perspective, little has changed with the paint can since it first appeared on the market. Today’s spray can is still very primitive and not ergonomically sound. If I had a spray can designed specifically for me , I could better create my art and ultimately expand the vocabulary of what the tool could do for me. A painting tool created for my hands and my unique style would allow me to take my art to the next level.  So, I was thrilled when Studio One Eleven agreed to collaborate with me to Paint the Future and design a spray can around my needs, my hand. Now, I just need someone to manufacture it! – Man One