.Street Art Legend: The Velvet Bandit

What I say will have the churchmen of the ossified old guard clutching their pearls, but today the most prominent North Bay artist on the national scene is the notorious Velvet Bandit.

That she also has the greatest impact on the street and the public sphere cannot be questioned, for her medium is wheat-paste graffiti.

The bandit is super prolific. But perhaps her most famous piece, dated just after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, is of a candy-colored taco reading, “I’ve seen tacos more supreme.”

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

As you read, reader, scroll and stroll her street art gallery on Instagram @thevelvetbandit.

CH: Velveeta, it is a matter of public record that you are a single mother of two in early middle age. The received stereotype of a tagger is that of an angsty teen with malt liquor. Is that image a myth?

VB: That stereotype is definitely a myth. I have met a lot of street artists, and many of them are around my age, parents working day jobs, just like me!

CH: Graffiti is illegal. How do you justify or defend the act?

VB: Since we all pay taxes, we all own part of public property. Therefore, I have the right to put my art up. To me, it is the same as putting a sign up for a garage sale.

CH: Strangely, given your fame, your pieces might increase the value of property.

VB: I like to think so!

CH: How do you site your pieces?

VB: As I drive around, I am always looking for new targets and surfaces and asking myself what part of town needs some art.

CH: Velvet, you said that the “commentary” between place and piece is important—what do you mean?

VB: Yes! My favorite part of street art is the visual conversations you have! You will put a piece up, and someone will come later and put something next to it or go over it, and it forms a conversation. It’s sooo much fun.

Yesterday, I was driving with a piece of a woman praying with the caption, “Thank God for abortions,” and I put it up right next to a piece that read, “ I love D.I.L.F.s.”

CH: Velvet Bandit. Folk hero or villain? You be the judge.

Learn more. This Q&A is part of a longer recorded conversation with The Bandit. In it, she solicits recruits for her local mom-graffiti-gang and gives the recipe for wheat paste. Search ‘Sonoma County: A Community Portrait’ on most podcast players.

Linktr.ee/cincinnatushibbard.

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