ReturnWe Were there - IX: The Invention of the Donut
The “Donut” is the colored ring around the nozzle indicating the color of the paint. Considered an essential element of a can of spray paint, it now features on all paint brands, even aerosols not designed for use by graffiti writers. This piece, invented by Montana Colors in 1997, has proved to be one of the most practical innovations for artists, and one of its most revolutionary contributions to aesthetics of spray paint.
CISCO AND THE "MANHATTAN TECHNIQUE"
The same month that the first issue of the Game Over magazine was published - September 1992 - Kapi and Moockie were photographing graffiti in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona. A celebrated writer called Cisco was working on a new piece there.
The pioneer from Barcelona had recently returned from his first visit to New York. As he told Kapi and Moockie about his adventures on the trip, he marked the top of the cans with another can of the same color, inevitably painting his finger as he went. He said that he’d seen this technique in Manhattan, employed by street artists who used a lot of paint to keep track of their cans.
Identifying the colors of the cans was always something that made the process of creating a piece difficult, since all the aerosols looked the same without their colored lids. What’s more, writers would throw the lids away soon after they got it to save space in their backpacks, making the task trickier still. They ended up having to read the small label on each can to find out what color was inside.
When Montana Colors already had a couple of formats on the market, they began to dream up a system of identifying the color of each can at a glance, without needing the lid. From putting a colored sticker on the dome of the container to painting this part directly with a complicated system of stencils, they couldn’t come up with a method that was viable on the production line.
However, they were on to something. The idea of coloring the top of the aerosol would undoubtedly give the can a much improved and professional look.
One day in 1997, Jordi Rubio was still thinking about the design problem while in the shower. He noticed the hemispherical-shaped element that joined the chrome faucet to the wall. He touched it and saw that it was loose, a simple piece of plastic painted with chrome. He thought he might have found the solution.
A few days later, the blueprints for the prototypes were drawn up, and the invention was named after the pastry shape they resembled.
The element fixed on the top of the can to identify its color revolutionized the aesthetics of the product, as well as being very useful. From that point on, cans would only need a generic transparent lid for any color.
The invention was so effective that Montana Colors decided to register the patent as its own creation. Despite this, other brands around the world began to copy the invention and use their own version of the Donut on their cans. Although having the patent meant that Montana Colors could have forced manufacturers to withdraw their versions from the market, they didn’t take legal action against anyone. The very nature of the invention went beyond corporate patents. The Donut added something to graffiti culture, and in the end the culture would grow if the Donut design spread worldwide.
Since the beginning, a brand set up to meet the needs of graffiti writers has made developments possible that were previously only ideas in the collective imagination of its practitioners.
ShareDecember 28, 2020