ReturnWe Were There - XIV: 2002 - Montana debuts at the Barcelona comic fair
WHAT RELATIONSHIP DID MONTANA HAVE WITH COMICS?
As we explained in the previous episode, Montana Colors pronounced a declaration of intent when introducing its new Alien product at the start of 2002. Its name, advertising campaign and the names of the color range referenced the deep universe of fantasy, science fiction and comics. Montana approached other areas of culture and contemporary art.
What’s more, the new format made spray paint more accessible to illustrators and painters who, until then, didn’t see much of a useful tool for their creations. So it was decided that that same year would be ideal to be enter a world that had long had links to graffiti and the recently popularized “street art” movement.
WHEN GRAFFITI MET COMICS
The first goal was to approach the world-famous Fira Del Còmic de Barcelona, one of the most popular events in the field with the second largest attendance in Europe at the time. When Montana Colors called up the organizers, they were met with surprise.
It wasn’t clear where the company would fit, since it wasn’t a publishing house, a comic book store or a group of cartoonists. It was something new - a spray paint company specialized in graffiti. At first there was some reluctance, but as soon as they discovered the brand's involvement in the tumultuous street art scene that existed in Barcelona at the time, they became interested in their proposal. So Montana set up a stall at the Fira de Barcelona, an arrangement that became a regular occurrence over the following years.
WHAT PLACE WOULD GRAFFITI HAVE AT A FAIR DEDICATED TO COMICS?
Once Montana's participation at the event was accepted, it had to consider what could to offer over the four days. Selling paint was out of the question, due to the conditions agreed with the organizers. So sales were never going to be the main reason to take part, even though they were allowed to sell other products related to the brand, like markers, sketch books, books, fanzines and other merchandise.
What was the idea behind the trip? Would it be worth the effort? Montana had the opportunity to show graffiti to an audience that had never seen it produced in person, even if they were aware of it. Without a doubt, the live painting was going to be the highlight of each day at the Montana Colors stand. Several Spanish artists were invited to create live artwork at the stand itself; Aeec and Anten, Mast, El Niño De Las Pinturas, Zeta and Kapi.
The success was resounding. During the interventions, the stand was packed with fascinated onlookers with crowds of people practically blocking the venue’s corridors. The striking images of the graffiti made it into the local newspapers as the city witnessed one of the first times that graffiti was embraced at a gathering of comic fans.
A HISTORICAL EVENT THAT WOULD SET A PRECEDENCE
There was no doubt about the strong relationship between graffiti and comics, but the influence existed in one direction. Now came a time that the influence started to flow in the other direction as well, as many comic artists saw the aerosol technique firsthand as they got a glimpse of the still underground graffiti scene.
The organizers of the Fair were fascinated by the incredible interest that the phenomenon sparked among its audience and, from the following year, as well as running a stand, Montana Colors would begin to coordinate attractions in a dedicated space so that visitors could see a plethora of graffiti writers creating their work live.
Funnily enough, in the first few years that Montana took part, the Fira was held at the Estació de França train station, sharing space with several platforms that were still used by trains and passengers. So just to be on the safe side, the organizers thought it best not to allow the sale of spray cans at the event.ShareFebruary 04, 2021