Maker City KC

9 questions with Rif Raf Giraffe, a founder of KC’s SpraySeeMo urban art fest

SpraySeeMo. Say it again: Spray-See-Mo.

It kind of rhymes with KCMO, and it’s the cleverly named weeklong festival celebrating murals and the urban art happening right here in Kansas City, September 8-15.

This year marks the third and biggest year for the fest, which wouldn’t be possible without Rif Raf Giraffe, one of SpraySeeMo’s founders. The festival brings together more than 40 artists and pairs them with walls around Kansas City. Thirty of the artists are traveling from around the country, while about a dozen currently call Kansas City home.

To coincide with the mural-making there’s a ton of fanfare to celebrate the fest, including a big free concert at The Truman with Hi-Lux and Wonderfuzz, a DJ set with Sheppa at The Ship, a beer fest at Strange Days Brewing, Barley Brew Bus mural tours, an event at Crossroads Hotel’s rooftop with an appearance from Molly Balloons — and there’s so much more. There’s even a “run club” — a group of runners that will meet up during the event and jog by the murals that make up KC’s landscape more colorful.

We recently caught up with Rif Raf Giraffe, also known as Rif Raf and Jason Harrington, to ask him about making urban art in public spaces.

1. What inspires you and your work?

My current work is inspired by the concepts of space and time, and the human perspectives we use to describe something we don’t fully understand, while also trying to imagine the possibilities within their potential for anything.

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2. Are makers doers or dreamers?

I feel makers are doers, and artists are dreamers.

3. What invention/product do you wish you would have created?

Probably something practical like the TV or a fridge. I just think of the royalties on everyone owning them.

4. What is the worst invention/product still embraced by modern society?

I’ve got one word for you: plastics.

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5. If you could sit down and have a drink with any person in your industry, who would it be and why?

Probably Kaws, Shepard Fairey, or Banksy. I’ve always been curious how very successful people get to where they are at, and they are at the top of the urban art field.

6. What do you love most about the Maker Movement happening in Kansas City right now?

I have enjoyed how everyone embraces each other. There is a camaraderie among everyone to work together rather than against each other, which is something you notice a lot in Kansas City in general, and due to the nature of power in numbers you are able to move mountains this way.

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7. Who is another maker in Kansas City that you’re impressed and inspired by?

My brother Chris Harrington, who owns Westside Storey, was part of what I view as the first wave of makers in town. So the people he introduced me to such as Charlie Hustle and Made in KC really embraced these principles and have grown their businesses accordingly. Personally, on an individual level, artists I like working with are: Sheppa, the best video editor I know in KC, and Molly Balloons for our entertainment events. Molly’s gift is she brings her personality and presence in addition to her work.

8. What Kansas City creation/icon best reflects our makers’ community?

I would say it’s an individual icon, but the thing I feel best embraces the maker/creative movement is The Crossroads. It was where it all began and even though it’s going through changes, the predominant vibe of the neighborhood is the movement, and everyone is trying to get in.

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9. If you could ask people to do just one thing to support the Maker Movement, what would it be?

Buy art. Whether it’s a local T-shirt or someone’s painting on First Friday, people pour their time and effort into these things and the best thing you can do to support it is by purchasing their work so they can have an opportunity to do more.

Keep up with Rif Raf online and make sure you’re following SpraySeeMo, too. The 3rd annual festival is happening Sunday, September 8 through Sunday, September 14.

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