Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi
Art

The Art of Tag

The Art of Tag

Meet one of Al Ahsa’s prominent graffiti artists.


During the recent 966 Box event, people got an up close and personal look at how a graffiti artist does his magic. We sat down with the artist himself, Marwan Al Hatlan, who goes by the street name of merro_boss and was kind enough to let us pick his creative brain.

Why merro_boss?

In the beginning I used to just go by Marwan, but then I noticed that other artists always make up nicknames. The trend was to use something similar to your name, hence merro. As for boss, well that was something a friend of mine used to say a lot and I liked the idea of using something that had a strong presence and image to it.

Screen-Shot-2016-04-19-at-3.01.05-PMHow did you get involved with 966 Box?

I had actually just stumbled upon some of the artwork being prepared for the event and talked to the artist. Before I knew it, they hooked me up with a chance to do some live graffiti work during the event. It was a lot of fun!

Have you done official work or is it mostly for yourself?

I’ve had friends get jailed for doing graffiti work illegally and that’s definitely not how I like to do things. I always seek out permission first.

Screen-Shot-2016-04-19-at-3.07.59-PMFor example, there’s an abandoned hospital in our neighborhood that had some really nice empty walls and space outside. I worked with a social group to help draft up the proper permissions and then I went to one of the sons of the hospital owner and got his approval to use the site for my graffiti.

That’s how I like to approach my work. It gives it credibility and there’s nothing in it for me to mess with the law about it. I want people to enjoy my work and I want to be able to enjoy creating it.

Screen-Shot-2016-04-19-at-3.00.22-PMWhat kind of challenges have you faced?

It took a long while to convince people that this was actually art and that it was worthwhile. There’s a stigma about graffiti as just being defacement, but I worked hard to show people what it can be. I even got the art of graffiti involved in festivals in Al Ahsa and now not a year goes by that they don’t call to invite me to showcase my work and teach people about it.

Screen-Shot-2016-04-19-at-2.59.49-PMWhy graffiti instead of other forms?

I used to draw actually, do car art and things of that nature. Then I got to know a guy in Riyadh, goes by the nickname of Sam, who mentored me in graffiti five years ago. I’ve been hooked since.

Instagram: merro_boss


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