If the city of Los Angeles is one enormous filmset, this is arguably the production designer’s stockroom. The handful of standard graffiti abatement paint colors in a city contractor’s warehouse in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles. This narrow color spectrum, plus a few dozen custom-matched tones, was used to remove about 32.5 million square feet of graffiti from city surfaces in the past fiscal year. (Photo by Ian Besler)

June Gloom Gray

Who chooses the paint color
for graffiti abatement in Los Angeles?

Ian Besler
Mar 18, 2015 · 14 min read

i. Two Square Miles of Paint

ii. The Abstraction Line, and Other Intertidal Zones

When it comes to the beautification of the built environment, abatement aspires for the diminishment of vandalism through the reproduction or reenactment of what was there before.

Notably free of graffiti, but resplendent with various overhead utility wires, a Boyle Heights warehouse and garage of the Gang Alternatives Program (GAP), a non-profit community organization that the city contracts for graffiti removal services. (Photo by Ian Besler)
The Abstraction Line, in this case in warm sienna, creeps up a brick facade on 8th St in Boyle Heights, east of Downtown Los Angeles. (Photo by Ian Besler)
The “Bathtub Ring” around Lake Mead in Nevada. (Photo by Kumar Appaiah, Wikimedia Commons)
“A rock on a beach near Kalaloch, Washington. The rock, seen at low tide, exhibits typical intertidal zonation.” (Photo by Before My Ken, Wikimedia Commons)

iii. “We Don’t Operate Like Spectroradiometers”

“We don’t operate like spectroradiometers,” Dr. Bevil Conway,The neuroscientist in the studio — breaking then creating,” TEDx.
Subtle variations on stucco beige accumulate on a rolling steel door in the Canoga Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Photo by Aaron Fooshée)

iv. “A Legitimate Request in the System”
or: Buildings Are Changeable By Just Anyone

The Anti-Graffiti Request System processed 118,000 requests for graffiti removal across the city of Los Angeles during the last fiscal year. (Screenshot by Ian Besler)
A tag removed by the Gang Alternatives Program (GAP) with a similar color paint on a stucco wall panel in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles. The paint has moved the Abstraction Line up by a few inches on this portion of the building. (Photo animation by Ian Besler)
June Gloom Gray precariously infiltrates a patch of concrete pretending to be stucco on the wall of what was once Sierra’s Mexican Restaurant (now out of business), on Canoga Avenue in the Canoga Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Photo by Aaron Fooshée)
The trunk of a Mexican Palm Fan (Washingtonia Robusta), which common consensus seems to suggest is brown, on Vanowen Street in the Canoga Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Photo by Aaron Fooshée)

WITH THANKS

re:form

A field guide to the designed world

    Ian Besler

    Written by

    Design, Research, Writing

    re:form

    re:form

    A field guide to the designed world