San Francisco tech companies embrace office graffiti

June 5, 2013 9:22:06 PM PDT
Graffiti is a major problem in most cities, but for some people in San Francisco, it's becoming quite the opposite. It's an unlikely marriage of spray paint and high tech.

They've spray painted everything from back alleys to subway trains, but there's nothing quite so bold as doing graffiti in an office while people are working there.

It's the brazen sort of stuff that could get you arrested. But these guys were invited.

"I think they did a fantastic job just capturing the essence of Nitro," Nitro Chief operating Officer Gina O'Reilly said.

Nitro Software is a company with a beer tap at the front desk, and a wombat for a mascot.

"This is completely unique, doesn't exist anywhere else, and I suppose that's somewhat reflective of our culture," O'Reilly said.

The mural is one-of-a-kind, but the idea isn't. It turns out office graffiti is becoming a thing in the tech world.

"We've done venture capital firms, we've done tech firms, we've done design firms," 1AM Gallery founder Daniel Pan said

1AM stands for First Amendment. They've become sort of a referral service for companies looking to hire graffiti artists.

"I think a lot of the loose abstractness of street art is attractive to them and they can kind of incorporate that with their company name and some imagery that they have," Pan said.

Imagery like the mountains that wrap around every wall of Liftopia's offices.

"Liftopia is a tech company in the ski space, certainly has an outdoor influence, and so having that kind of that indoor outdoor vibe is great for the feel of the office," Liftopia Finance Vice President Matt Cohen said.

It goes great with the couches and picnic tables, kind of like a winter wonderland living room you never want to leave.

Now, some companies are taking the connection a step further, not just bringing street art into the office, but taking the whole office out to make art in the street.

Nathan Tan goes by "Nate 1" in the street. He's a former tagger turned mural maker and he's teaching the tricks of his trade to the employees of a local design firm.

"Our goal is to educate people on what graffiti art is and what it can be, and how it can be a really positive thing," Tan said.

In this case, it's a team building exercise. They are painting their firm's name on the 1AM Gallery's blank outside wall.

"Normally we're on the computer so we're just pushing keys and that sort of thing, but, so it's fun to get our hands dirty," Vehicle SF President Dennis Crowe said.

The classes are becoming so popular, the wall gets repainted almost weekly, except for the part advertising 1AM's new mobile app for browsing graffiti all over the world.


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