ReturnWe Were There - VIII: Hardcore History
Not many people know the true origin of the famous “Hardcore” cans. Aside from its bold branding, the story behind the development of this line of paint - and the needs it met - is essential to understanding the embryonic era of graffiti spray technology.
RELEASE THE PRESSURE
1996 was a time of growth for Montana Colors. As well as offering a range of 100 colors, the brand manufactured two unique formats: Classic 200 and 400 ml. No other brand in the Spanish market could match them.
However, graffiti writers are a demanding customer and one of the key design issues they had to work on was the development of high pressure aerosols with a “female” valve, compatible with the caps that were popular in Northern Europe: pink dot fat caps, skinny gray banana caps as well as the legendary N.Y. Fat Caps that would show up in books and magazines about the origins of the scene in New York.
The potential of an aerosol containing the quality Montana paint and a high pressure female valve was clear. European writers who knew the brand wondered about the possibility and the first distributors in the north of the continent were already asking about it, as it would make an ideal product for their markets.
FEMALE VS MALE
Almost all the paint available in Barcelona came with a male valve, drastically limiting the caps that could be used by writers who wanted to advance in their techniques.
On those first forays into Europe, Spanish writers brought home paint sporting labels like Sparvar, Belton and Marabú. Some of these brands worked well with fat caps, resulting in fairly wide lines.
Photos of almost impossibly fat tags had been spotted in fanzines of the time. There were stories about writers who had managed to customize their caps or even their cans, with incredible results, but they remained in folklore.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Back at the Game Over Shop, now one of Montana Colors' hubs, there were several cans with female valves that Moockie and Kapi had collected over the years. Jordi took one of the US brands, Krylon, to his laboratory in order to dissect it. The idea was to use it as a starting point to develop new technology that would allow Montana's manufacturing method and the quality of its paint to be combined with a different valve format, creating a high-pressure product compatible with so-called “male” caps. In 1996, after testing different gases, ratios and valve systems, Jordi appeared one day at the store with several samples. They were the first 400 ml cans with the female valve format that he had assembled with his own hands. At the back of the store, there was a small toiler wall in a courtyard of the building, regularly used to test paint from the day the store opened.
Kapi got some caps that he kept in a box in the warehouse, picked up on a trip to Europe. The tests began. A pink dot fat cap was used to experiment with a few samples until one sounded different. When he was able to spray a line on the wall, he couldn’t believe his eyes, exclaiming: “It’s so hardcore!”, all the time thinking back to the photos he’d seen in magazines showing tags with thick, impressive lines.
Jordi had discovered the formula, Kapi had christened it and Moockie went to work on the design of the letters that still adorns Montana Hardcore: the first high pressure aerosol paint.
ShareDecember 18, 2020