Introduction: Old School Stealthy Stencil

Picture of Old School Stealthy Stencil

This is a trick learned from CRASS stencilers.
You'll need:
paper grocery bag
side of half rack box sized stencil
maybe bluetack or something else to affix the stencil to the wall temporarily. i just use tape.

Step 1: Cut the Bottom Out of a Paper Bag...

Picture of Cut the Bottom Out of a Paper Bag...

make the hole slightly smaller than the stencil so as to have something to tape on, and give it a little strength.

Step 2: Tape the Stencil to the INSIDE of the Bag

Picture of Tape the Stencil to the INSIDE of the Bag

if you leave alot of space around your design you'll have enough support to keep your cans in the bag itself. best to use the small model sized cans so you can move your hand around in there.

Step 3: That's It! Now You've Got a Normal Looking Paper Bag

Picture of That's It! Now You've Got a Normal Looking Paper Bag

with the voice of errant youth in the bottom. put the bluetack/tape on the bottom, press it up against a wall, and spray! ta-friggin'-da...


MajHunter (author)2006-10-25

As a Police Officer I am constantly having to deal with taggers and their vandalism. As Fungus Amungus said "Most graffiti is boring and ego-driven and aimed at an insider audience." In Fresno, Graffiti needs to be painted out within a matter of days. Study after study has shown that Graffiti is one of the items that leads to higher crime rates. It falls into the "broken window theory."

Seattle PD's website has a good synopsis of the broken window theory here.

Graffiti costs the City of Fresno $1,461,700 a year for removal. That doesn't even count the cost to businesses and citizens for things we cant paint over (business signs, road signs, etc.) That is money that could be spent to improve peoples lives, to make Fresno a safer place, to fund skate parks, schools, art classes, etc. Instead it is wasted painting over graffiti.

Thank you for contributing to the problem.

Furah (author)MajHunter2011-05-15

Commission someone to draw up some artwork. A library was having issues with people tagging a wall. The hired some artists to graffiti the wall in a theme suitable for a library. In over a decade nobody has even attempted to tag the wall. The wall is much more visually appealing now and it was far, far less costly than removing/covering the paint every time some punk sees that their artwork was removed.

beanqueen (author)MajHunter2011-02-10

it should be decriminalized, then crime will drop dramatically! also, in europe. you'll see ten times more graffiti, and there is a fraction of our violent crime. your stat is wonky. the public belongs to the public. keep us safe, please. but city administrators and cops aren't aesthetician or curators. don't worry about the graffiti, please.

ilpug (author)MajHunter2009-10-12

 and what about the brand name thrown up everywhere? those should be removed to, because they are justas offensive as  tags. as an artist i think that dirty words have no artistic value, but some of the more profound work is actually art. APPRECIATE PEOPLES CREATIVITY! you should read "WALL AND PEICE" by Banksy.

MajHunter (author)ilpug2009-10-12

Please refer to my reply dated April 3, 2007 10:00PM.  Covers most of what you just said.

Actually my buddy has that and I have been aware of Banksy for a long time.   His stuff at least has a message and is done well.  "ZxBAdaZZmofo" scrawled on a house in spraypaint has no message, serves no purpose, and simply defaces property.

NinjaSloth (author)MajHunter2009-01-19

If it costs that much don't remove it. DUH!

biffula (author)MajHunter2007-01-31

"Graffiti costs the City of Fresno $1,461,700 a year for removal." Proof!!!! Don't just throw out a statistic without your proof. Sounds like some lameass crap a cop would through out with nothing to back it up because he heard it in some continuing ed. seminar and took it for sacred. If they spend that much they need to hire out to a private contractor cause it could be done for much cheaper, I'll guarandamntee you. Too many entitled civil service govt. teet suckers on the dole.

Yvonnepaigeness (author)biffula2007-02-22

waste your $1,461,700 on something alot more constructive. I can understand some graffiti is ugly to look at and crude, But some is beautiful no matter what anyone else says.

I enjoy to see the art side of graffiti, but i will say i hate to see "f*** yous"
and similar graffiti that has so artistic value.

why waste so much money removing it?

thank you.

Yvonee thank you for keeping your reply civil, unlike "lampajoo".

I have no problem with TRUE urban art, when done with the permission of the owner. We have many businesses that hire urban artists to paint murals on their store walls. There is no use and no art for straight tagging.

You live in Oregon, so I'm sure graffiti isn't used in the same context as it is here in Fresno. I would personally estimate that about 90-95% of our graffiti is gang related and used to mark off territory, diss/challenge opposing gangs, etc.

We are overwhelmed by gangs. We have been hitting one gang so hard, they even put a hit out on our Chief. We have thousands of gang bangers and hundreds of gangs and gang sects. We have over 4000 validated members, 1500 associates, and 4500 non-validated members/associates in just ONE gang alone.

Graffiti serves as the newspaper for the gang culture. In any neighborhood where we allow graffiti to stay up, quickly gang violence follows. The faster we paint over a challenge/etc, the less likely that challenged will learn that someone is dissing him. Spray paint on a wall can lead to blood on the street.

osh-kosh (author)MajHunter2007-04-04

Ok so Fresno is infested with gangs? What's that got to do with people making stencils and tagging telephone poles and bar washroom walls in Toronto? Nothing probably - sounds like we're living in two different worlds. I think you can't apply your experience to everyone or every instructable. I think the idea is great and that you're experience has turned you into a zealot.

8bit (author)osh-kosh2008-12-06

I think it's a result of the way police are trained in the USA nowadays. Its more of a military fashion than the police our parents grew up with. Its sad and disturbing.

vaquerita (author)osh-kosh2008-07-18

you're right, it is a different world. it's california. i would probably have to resort to cutting to cope with the stress of even living there ever again. and to be a cop, a teacher or an amusement park attendant there has to be about the worst of it!

lampajoo (author)MajHunter2007-04-04

Graffiti is not what causes gang wars. Gangs are fueled by illicit drug sales. Like during alcohol prohibition. Now get rid of the prohibition and you get rid of the gangs, it's as simple as that. We don't have people getting shot over whiskey and gin anymore, do we?

JuCo (author)lampajoo2008-08-21

not completely true... sure, that's an income that fuels gang violence, but there's a number of other things that they have their hands in. illegal gambling, black market trade, gun trade, prostitution, etc. now, i don't disagree that a change in legislation could help, but it wouldn't rid the country of gangs like you're implying.

lampajoo (author)JuCo2008-08-22

Make all those things legal too. Gambling should be completely legal(state lotto but no card games?) Prostitution of course should be legal. guns: two words, 2nd amendment. Governments are just preeminent gangs. They like to dress what they up do in holy garb but one group of armed men is no different than another group of armed men. They will always seek to regulate the commercial activities going on around them. By legalizing drugs, and prostitution, gambling, etc that would bring all these things under the purvue of the MAIN gang, "the government." If you can't recognize the basic equality between "gang bangers" and "beat cops" then you will be hopelessly conceptually lost and never come to any correct conclusions.

JuCo (author)lampajoo2008-08-22

i dunno where to even start with this... prostitution (with certain safeguards, of course) would be fine. much like drug-use, it's a consensual crime. gambling? sure, it makes no sense to let only indian reservations get casino revenues... as for guns, which part of the amendment are you claiming? the little snippet about "right to bear arms"? or the whole thing about "a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."? which even the less-quoted, less-NRA friendly is hard to translate... and has been misinterpreted over'n'over throughout time to the point that it's just "people can have guns". now, as for the accusation that i'm "hopelessly conceptually lost". first, i take personal offense at this and it seems that you've some sort of bias against anyone that disagrees with you... but, i'll still do it. "gang bangers": have you ever known any? 'cause i've known and... mingled with many. some were ok. but the main difference between them and "beat cops" is that a good cop is a benefit to the neighborhood, while a good "gang banger" is a blight on mankind. now, the government/gang analogy is decent. problem is that a good government includes you in the gang. sort of like a lot of earlier gangs that worked a lot like a switchblade carrying neighborhood watch. i'm not gonna say that ours (provided you're american) is perfect, but it's got a decent foundation to work with and build from. anyhow, i'm rambling... and just so that you know, i'm hardly a yes-man and i've seen nearly every part of this country and been part of every class (only by association for the upper-class types, though. :( oh, well) and i've got a decent view of what the country's actually like and suggest that you get out of the suburbs a bit more. it could be very enlightening.

osh-kosh (author)MajHunter2007-04-04

Remember what we're talking about here - college kids making stencils hiden in paper bags. You've got your back up and people are reacting to your over the top authoritative tone - what the hell kinda point are you trying to make? That gangs in California are out of control and your job is stressing you out? OK we get it!

will you marry me?

8bit (author)MajHunter2008-12-06

Are you sure that money would be used for things such as that? Excuse me for being jaded, but that contrasts with my understanding of human nature. Still, thanks for the link - the theory makes a lot of sense. Never heard of that one before.

Rishnai (author)MajHunter2008-03-21

Simple scrawled graffiti, like you have said, is expensive, ugly, and contributes to higher crime rates (or maybe higher crime rates contriblute to graffiti--anyway, it definitely lowers property values.). However, more complex, multicolored peices, even if they only contain a tagger's street name, are NOT ugly, and are a legitimate from of art placed on an illegal location. So the fellow below who says "let them spray the skate parks. sprayed skate parks look good" is probably not thinking of the sort of graffiti that mark's a gang's drug territory. He's probably thinking of political/punk messages that are stenciled, and the large, intricate stenciled pieces that often seem to find their way onto train cars. I know one thing for a fact, a piece of stenciled art-hgraffiti is way less ugly than all these strange, ugly things the city keeps paying for. The City of Denver could take its ugly-modern-art-where-everyone-has-to-look-at-it money and its paint-over-art/political-graffiti-that-the-building-owner-hasn't-specifically-requested-removal-of money and spend it on roads, and I'd be a happy camper.

nkk07 (author)Rishnai2008-08-28

pieces came from tags.

the first graffiti was jus little tags but they got bigger and bigger till they had an outline then the outline got filled in then they started adding shadows,extensions characters they were the first dont say tags are crap when you dont understand it.dont start making long boring **** about it when you dont understand it.

Rishnai (author)nkk072008-08-28

I never really thought about it that way. I tend to doubt that all tags, if left alone, will become pieces, but I will keep an eye out. Of course, the thing that really pisses me off is when the city comes and paints over tags (using the wrong paint color, most of the time) before they can become pieces or anything else. Then the next day the tag is back, and a couple hundred dollars of my tax money went down the drain because the city is paranoid and irrational.

nkk07 (author)MajHunter2008-02-18

spend the money on skate parks so they can spray the skate parks. sprayed skate parks look good!:)

lilscskater (author)nkk072008-08-27

but they get slick and i don like slipping on the paint....... they should just make giant walls so that graffiti artist can tag there .

lilscskater (author)MajHunter2008-08-27

u should probably just leave it there, when taggers see that there art is removed they go and make a new one, its like a new wall for them , and in santa cruz we leave it up and it just stays there.

nussey (author)MajHunter2007-04-18

hey majhunter... i respect your comments about the gang problem but spending all that money on covering up graf, why not spend it on uplifting the comunity or like the government does here where i live (south Africa) where we have more poverty, violence, gangsterism etc, pay the poor to clean up the graff, and so uplift them and maybe stop them from turning to gangsterism and graffiti?

vaquerita (author)nussey2008-07-18

i respect your intelligent and caring response to this argument.

Well, maybe you should just leave it there.. taggers.. like me are just gonna put more up!!! =P and i do admit that graffiti is stupid if it is slopy.. but if done by a true artist graffiti is art

PR22 (author)MajHunter2008-06-26

I think you need to stop BAAWWWING

pyroman22 (author)MajHunter2008-06-11

so how long have you been part of the Downer Patrol?

Mattrox (author)MajHunter2008-05-29

This is stupid rated worthless Right on majhunter

emericanskater (author)MajHunter2008-02-04

i definetly agree if they put their abilities to good there could be some beatiful art around citys for museums or murals and we could put more money into skateparks so maybe there wouldnt be so much skateing in noskateing zones or in skools,art classes or many other good causes other than covering up graffiti.

Rishnai (author)emericanskater2008-03-21

Yeah! I've noticed that a good peice of graffiti-style art is less likely to get gang graffiti tagged over it than the same wall when it was blank. I knew a guy a couple of years ago that caught a kid doing what he thought was a beautiful peice of graffiti (just a fancy copy of his street name) on his building, which had been tagged multiple times by different people, just never like that. Instead of running the kid off, asked him to paint the whole wall with art and then sign his street name in the corner for the credit. The wall hasn't been tagged since.

nkk07 (author)MajHunter2008-02-18

youre just using that ur a cop so you can act "good"

schnitzelboi (author)MajHunter2008-02-12

Glad to help, officer Maj!


RockinN (author)2008-11-16

great idea!

RockinN (author)2008-11-16

ok just gotta say that gang tagging and just tagging is fun, but stupid and mindless. Graffitti pieces are cool, but I think that only street art is truly great. Especially stencils, and if you want an example of a truly great street artist, look up the british artist banksy. his stencils are truly amazing. And to police everywhere, i apologize not for graffitti and street artists, but for the gang taggers who ruin the reputation of street art, and for the fact that the police have to work so hard to cover up what is simply art on a wall. I wish that good street art was legal, so that everywhere one went beautiful and insightful works of art could be found. For now, I van only hope.

nkk07 (author)2008-08-28


osh-kosh (author)2006-08-10

You guys are looking at this grafiti argument all wrong. If corporations are allowed to put up huge gawdy billboards anywhere they want, just 'cause they have money, I figure I can spray paint anything I want, anywhere I want, just 'cause I don't have money. Why should only a select few get to 'advertise' because they have favour with the powers that be, or the money to purchase such favour. We don't get to choose which adverts are shoved down our throats everyday while riding transit, or driving down the road, or walking to the corner store. It's not a matter of taste, it's matter of free speech. An 'i' for an 'i' I say. "52 High St. forever"

MajHunter (author)osh-kosh2007-04-03

One, they are limited by numerous federal, state and local laws/statutes about where they can put billboards and what can be on the billboards (cigarettes near schools, etc). I agree that billboards are a blight and an eyesore and I would love to see them all removed. However the difference between a gaudy eyesore billboard and graffiti is that they OWN the billboard. Most people don't tag on their own property. They tag on other peoples property without their permission. Would you like it if I came and spray painted "Fresno PD for LIFE!!!" across your house? Of course not, so why do it to other people's property without their permission? It really comes down to respect.

osh-kosh (author)MajHunter2007-04-04

I think you're still missing the point - every 'act', no matter how juvenile the vandalism appears, is a comment on how our public space has been monopolised by one segment of the population. There's another segment of the population that feels it has no voice. This other segment doesn't have the money or the polictical clout to get itself heard. You're absolutely right, it does come down to respect - and respect has to be earned, not imposed. The reason people do it is because they don't respect their communities. Your 'point' about someone tagging a house is disingenuous - the vast majority of tagging is done on commercial and government buildings, not private residences. You know this. It's a kin to lying when you make statements like that. People tag because they feel they have no other venue - and if you have a list of other more appropriate venues provided by the state then ask yourself why the people tagging don't use them. Maybe because the people who tag don't feel anyone will hear them or respect their opinions. A community has to earn the respect of most of it's citizens before these sorts of random property crimes will disappear. Get your bosses with the City of Fresno to try and work on that, or maybe you can ask why people tag at the next anti-graffiti seminar they send you to. I know it's easier when you see things in black and white - "I own, you don't." is an easy answer for alot of people.

thinker (author)osh-kosh2007-07-11

I understand what you're saying and wish there where more taggers like you. However although there are a lot of people who tag to give themselves a voice or to make a point known, id like to hear your justification of localised tagging, where a group of people try to out-do themselves by most tags in an area. Often these areas are quiet residential areas, streets that are Near cities or Near corporations, but normal houses and streets nonetheless. I personally dont mind tagging as long as it is a comment on an issue. But the majority of people are too busy trying to put up their own name regardless of other names that are out there or to go in confrontation with other taggers. To me This is wrong unless it is in art form or they are in conflict over an issue other then land. I do know taggers of varying sorts, but most of them spray theirs or a gangs name/symbol rather then a belief and often this is more for territory then political opinion. So yes, the idea of tagging is brilliant i can understand you totally, but you have to admit that tagging IS vandelism, and tagging gangs or personal names is pretty much like corporations putting up their slogans, your not bettering them, your degrading yourself by sinking to their level.

osh-kosh (author)thinker2007-07-11

I already explained how every act is an expression of a lack of respect a certain segment of the population has for their own community. And I already wrote how I plainly disregard the argument that 'Often these areas are quiet residential areas'. The vast majority of tagging isn't done on quiet streets. What the hell? Did you even really read what I wrote before you started typing 'your' instead of you're? (it's a cheap shot I know, but my point is that you should slow down and work on your comments a little better)

smokehill (author)osh-kosh2007-10-26

Tagging is hardly an art form, but just another self-indulgent act of destruction by immature adolescents who actually think their opinions matter, and, since they have never worked for anything and never owned anything, don't understand -- or care -- that they are damaging or destroying someone else'd property. It ain't theirs -- so it isn't important. And if it's "commercial," or "government," so much the better -- after all, these people owe the punks a living and pretty much everything else, so why not take out one's petty aggressions on them? A small percentage of taggers will grow up to get real jobs and actually own something more than a spray can. Those will actually understand the issue when they're adults, and will deserve respect, whereas the rest of the rabble will continue to contribute nothing and just take up space ... and welfare dollars. I notice that taggers are much less amused when you track them down and spray-paint their own cars & bikes. How very unfair.

Poztar (author)smokehill2008-07-08

And so much hubbub over a paper bag. Sorry, but I'm gonna have to agree with the cooler heads over here. If you put time and effort into a piece of graffiti, it can be a great piece of art. How ever, like MajHunter was saying, gang violence is not cool. Keep it clean.

smokehill (author)Poztar2008-08-15

Certainly a piece of graffiti may be a great piece of art, but so is the black-and purple design, with yellow highlights, that I will create on the face of whomever I find putting THEIR design on my property. That's my right as an artist.

thinker (author)smokehill2007-10-29

okay firstly
A small percentage of taggers will grow up to get real jobs
and where-precisely did you get this "fact" from? oh wait, you didnt make it up did you? =o , please air opinions freely but dont make up random things and state them as truths without some evidence or reference

immature adolescents who actually think their opinions matter
so no-one under 20 counts towards society? wow
way to go you with the bias here!!!!

thinker (author)osh-kosh2007-07-12

it must be different where u live, where i am the majority of tagging is gang tagging or people sprayin their name or things like "i f*cked so-n-so" their is very little of anything else, and yes it is mainly on the houses, on the walls by houses or on the bridges/tunnels next to the houses, i even know of several old peoples homes that where "done up". How you can say that these people are in any way beneficial to what you try do, this is what i was trying to say in my comment. I agree with your sort but not theirs and sadly whereve i go there's is the majority i see and theres is the sort that springs up everywhere and often is only designed to incite people.

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