I talked to Allen Perry at Lookout Supply, 3440 W. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43204.
What is your name?
I go by Casper, sometimes Casper the Ghost, sometimes Geist (the German word for ghost).
Tell me about Lookout Supply.
It’s a paint shop. It’s an art store. It’s an indoor and outdoor gallery. Some of the artists who come through here are world traveling artists. They get paid to fly all over the world to paint murals for people. For instance, if someone wants a mural done, they call Justin (who runs the place). Justin, myself, Frank and a couple of other people do murals and commission work. Pretty much anything related to art, we will do. Mostly with spray paint, but not always with spray paint. Sometimes, in the inside gallery, you will see canvases. A couple of months ago, a guy did a sixteenth century sculpture type painting. A lot of it is street art; but, not all of it is street art.
Before we started to record, you told me there is an area where people can paint. Tell me about that.
We have the free walls. It doesn’t matter if you are sixteen years old. It doesn’t matter if you are twelve. We have seen people bring their kids that are eight or nine years old. It doesn’t matter if it is 3 am, 9 am, or 10:00 pm. It doesn’t matter what is on those wooden walls. We have the smaller one, the little bit bigger box cube that is four sided, and we have the big one that is sixteen foot wide by eight foot tall on each of the four sides. You can paint over them no matter what is on them. It is free game. It’s a free wall. That happens all day long. For instance, Zac Ros painted over here earlier today. By tomorrow, or even later tonight, I might paint over it. I probably won’t; but, I might. It doesn’t matter, because that is what it is here for. It is for practice. It is an outlet. If you have an outlet to do whatever you want, you are not going to be out doing things that you are not supposed to be doing. That is why you don’t see people grabbing paint out of the full garbage cans and painting over somebody’s piece on the big walls.
Sidebar: This is ingenious! A space to blow off steam and tap into creativity. This just might be something I do in the near future.
Let’s talk about your work in general.
Most of the time, I am trying not to stick in a certain theme. Most of the time, I will do letters. I will take the same letters and put them in different orders, different styles, change the way I do a 3D (dimensional), change the color, change the heights, change the widths, change the thickness, change the way they pop out. For the most part, I like the way this letter looks. Now I am going to take a bunch of other letters and make them match what that letter looks like in style, form and function. Let’s say I have a C that is thick at the top and pops out in the corner and is tight and constrained in the bottom and the middle. I am going to try to use that to influence the rest of what I am doing. There can be more thought that goes into it when doing giant wall murals; but, I just like painting letters. I am an engineer by trade. This is my zone time where I put in my headphones and listen to music. I don’t think about anything else while I am painting. At that moment, the rest of the world doesn’t exist.
In your piece, I notice that there is a portion that doesn’t look like a letter. Am I missing something?
Correct. I painted over somebody. Usually, every month we will take a commercial paint sprayer with whatever paint we can find with a bucket and repaint the entire wall one color. It is called the buff. Because you are buffing the entire wall. The reason it is called the buff is, historically, in the early days (‘70s,, ‘80s, ‘90s), in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, California, the first thing that happens when they saw something big covered in spray paint (like a train), the first thing they did was hit it with a buff. It will take all that paint off and you are never going to see it again. When we have a jam, we will pick a color, usually we have 5 gallons of gray and that is what the buff color will be. We have black next month. That is the color it will be. Sometimes we don’t do that. For instance, last month the buff was gray. The artists came in and painted their pieces. This month, we didn’t feel like buffing it. See, we painted straight over it. That is a little bit more of a challenge. You can buff your part of the wall, or you can make sure that whatever you paint will cover up the existing piece that was there before, so you don’t see things peeking out from behind. If you look at the birds on the four sided box, you can see he buffed that entire wall. If you look at that other box, you can see things behind the greens and oranges.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you think I should have asked you? If so, go ahead and answer that question.
The Lookout is really important to the community. I would love to see one of these in every city in the world. I travel extensively throughout the US and Europe. You don’t’ see a lot of stuff like this. The fact that we have this, we are able to provide an outlet for people to use creativity to direct their focuses. There are challenges. You start out on a free wall. You keep practicing and learning. Everybody has got to start somewhere. Then you get on a big wall when people are coming by and taking pictures in their cars beside something that you painted. Let’s say you are used to painting in a 16-foot area, then, the next spot could be a corner. Yes, you know how to paint a 16-foot area; but, do you know how to paint in a 4ft area in a corner in the middle of it? It is a little more difficult. You learn how to diversify. You learn how to play with your sizes, shapes, dimensions, and spacing. It’s a transition, ever evolving, always learning and always doing something a little different.