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Painting internationally during a lockdown, or: How to teleport 4000miles with the press of a button

Recently two new TABBY pieces have come up in Buffalo NY. But how do you travel during an international lockdown? You dont... but your stencils do.

There had been long plans to travel to the US to paint, among others, these two pieces in these exact spots. I had my trusted contact on location who was going to help during a visit (whom we will refer to as "Eazy-Z"), but after months of delay in a covid themed world, we started to become a bit restless. This is when "Plan B" came into action. I would send him 2 hand cut stencils via priority mail and teach him how to paint.

At first glance a stencil is relatively simple. However, there is quite a bit of practice needed in order to do it right, especially perfect on the first try. You dont get a do-over on an outdoor wall. This is why I included another small stencil for practice, the Business Penguin, and would be teaching him everything there is to know beforehand.

TABBY video tutorial screenshot

After the stencils arrived, I started sending video tutorials of myself painting with similar stencils and in turn, he would film himself practicing and send back the results.

Stencil practice

We did this for a couple of weeks until we felt we had all the basics down and good results.

Long how to videos were then sent from my side, showing all the details of painting the chimp pieces. Everything you should do and just as importantly, what you shouldnt do. Soon enough we both felt ready and picked an upcoming date with good weather. The plan was that I would be joining in live and guiding the process through video chat. A simple phone on a tripod pointed at the wall would do the trick.

All the prep work ended up being well worth the time. On a sunny day with the help of a newly trained hand and some technology, an official TABBY piece was created 4000 miles away. All without leaving the studio.

Below are side by side comparisons. The top are from the video tutorial of myself teaching how to paint, and on the bottom are the results of Easy-Z's outdoor painting.

A similar scene unfolded the next day, when we painted the second piece "Monkey Business - I have no idea what Im doing".

Step by step, again with the help of a video call, we went through everything we practiced, even down to detailed brushwork to touch up any minor loose ends.

Screenshots from video call

In the end everything worked out great, the beginner to winner TABBY school of stencils paid off. Easy-Z had proven himself and graduated to be an honorary TABBY crew member. The weeks it took to prepare everything was well worth it. Sure it would have been nice to get my own hands in on the fun, but at least I was spared of a 32 hour round trip flight.... for now. Hopefully I will be able to visit at another time.

So that is how it was done. I might not have been the first to use this strategy to put up a new piece half way around the world (looking at you BANKSY), but it is the first time anybody has been open about and shared the process.

Until next time.


Working Chimp - Hugs. Buffalo NY, USA

Monkey Business - I have no idea what Im doing. Buffalo NY, USA


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