Graffiti artist leaves mark on Kansas City’s most prominent buil - KCTV5

Graffiti artist leaves mark on Kansas City’s most prominent buildings, intersections

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Ben Watson is the first to admit he made mistakes as a kid growing up in Southern California. When he used his first can of spray paint on a wall at the age of 12, he wasn’t hired to do it. (Ben Watson) Ben Watson is the first to admit he made mistakes as a kid growing up in Southern California. When he used his first can of spray paint on a wall at the age of 12, he wasn’t hired to do it. (Ben Watson)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Some of Kansas City’s most prominent buildings and intersections are being spray-painted, but criminal charges will not be made.

The graffiti artist involved is often getting paid to leave his mark.

Ben Watson is the first to admit he made mistakes as a kid growing up in Southern California. When he used his first can of spray paint on a wall at the age of 12, he wasn’t hired to do it.

“When I was a kid in Junior High, we used to run around and spray paint stuff,” Watson said.

But now, Kansas City is his canvas and he only paints on buildings when he’s asked to paint them. These days it happens quite often. His latest piece of work is the outside of Square One Studio near 31st Street and Holmes Road in Northeast Kansas City. Square One Studio manager, Brad Antisdel says he heard about Watson through word of mouth.

“We wanted to add some street art to [the area] since we moved here in 2012,” Antisdel said.

Watson says he owned a construction company for 17 years and hated it. His true passion was always art and he loved graffiti art. One day he decided to close his business and follow his dreams, painting murals for businesses, sometimes on the business itself. He paints in his “street art style” with various cans of spray paints.

“You know, all graffiti doesn’t have to be bad,” Watson said.

Over the years, Watson has assembled a team of graffiti artists that is now hired by businesses across the metro to put artwork where it’s badly needed, often over gang tags.  If the business owner has a specific vision or artwork request, he charges. If he gets a full creative license, Watson says he will paint it for free.

Watson also does corporate murals. He painted the Sporting Kansas City mural at 17th and Main and the Royals mural along Southwest Boulevard across from Boulevard Brewery.

Watson also says he’s always on the lookout for new talent. If he spots a young person tagging a building or is able to track down someone who he thinks has talent, it’s not uncommon for him to recruit that young person to join his team and create legal graffiti art.  He says his mission is to show young people they can do what they love for a living, and if that’s graffiti art, he can help them do it legally.

“I wanna do something that’s going to last, not just scribbling on someone’s property, making enemies with business owners. Instead, I’d like them to come to me and say, ‘Hey I got this wall.’… It feels real good that our stuff stays up and I’m making a living off of it,” Watson said.  

If you know someone who has talent and may be a good addition to Ben Watson’s team of artists, click here.

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