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The People of the Chalk

Welcome to the inaugural blog of the “People of the Chalk.” This is the place of honest, fun, and raw accounts of the adventures of myself (Benjamin) and Cherish as we tour the world doing our chalk art.

For the longest time, I struggled with defining myself as an artist and an illustrator. There are so many techniques and styles. I tried most of them in my exploration, not really able to set on any one in particular. I love cartooning, but I also love landscapes. I enjoy caricature as much as I enjoy children’s books.

But it seems that while I was exploring my artistic expression, chalk art found me. I was fascinated with the medium the first time exposed to it in 2003. I love the ephemeral nature of the medium, I love being under the sun, enduring the elements, and of course, with my background in theatre and puppetry, I loved the performance aspect. In 2004, my first chalk art piece was an absolute disaster. I did not know what I was doing or how the chalks would respond to the pavement. Now, ten years later, I think I’ve figured a few things out.

It seems as if I have a knack for the medium. Soon I started winning awards, and when I started to get paid to travel and do the chalk art, it really dawned on me that I finally found something that I could really make my own. In 2010, I started to explore how to add the illusionary aspect to the chalk art. This, too, was a process of trial and error before I finally figured out the correct math.

Much like the fleeting nature of the chalk art, I realize it is a metaphor for my own life. I realize that street art is a youth movement for a reason. As the shadows of age creep upon me, juxtaposed with my own health conditions, each new event becomes increasingly more difficult to perform. My health leaves me in pain most days. Creating chalk art on the hard streets in the brutal sun (or the freezing snow!) is a physical challenge. I battle through for the love of the medium, cognizant that I am racing against time. Many festivals I have had to leave my working space, doubled over in pain that will grip me for up to two to three hours! Once I was hospitalized. Working in chalk art is brutal. Yet, it is what I love to do and it is what I have become known for doing.

When my high school guidance councilor asked me to describe what I wanted to do when I grew up, it never dawned on me to mention travel the world and draw on other people’s streets. Yet, that’s what ended up happening. And with Cherish in tow, it is wonderful–a blessing–and we are happy to share our journeys with you. Us, the “People of the Chalk.”

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