The Controversial Art of Graffiti Artist Eros

Graffiti artist Eros knows what he’s doing—and he wants us to know, too.
Shubert Breaker Battle Minneapolis, part of the 2008 graffiti battle.

A St. Croix Valley artist who goes simply by the name Eros fits special caps over the nozzles of spray cans to control the width and the speed of the paint as it hisses free of the aerosol tin, onto his surfaces of choice: delivery trucks, trailers, exterior and interior walls throughout the Twin Cities, bridges and freight trains—never churches, never schools and never your neighbor’s garage.

If you see it, you can tell the art is by Eros, because the result will pop in “wildstyle” lettering: colorfully hard to read, busying an otherwise blank face in psychedelic full-with-overlapping letters, and arrows finely delineated. “It has the potential to stay up for years, but can be gone before morning if done in a highly visible area,” he says.

It’s ephemeral, and it’s illegal. Paint crews hired by the city remove graffiti, whether it’s intended to beautify or vandalize public space. But Eros’s always-beautifying efforts have earned him enough respect in the Twin Cities that other graffiti writers typically won’t paint over his work, he says.

Inspired by late-’80s hip-hop culture, Eros started out rapping and break dancing through California in his formative years. He learned to skateboard. “I would often see graffiti in obscure little skate spots, like trenches, on ramps, various subterranean hidden gems.” Art teachers pointed out his attention to detail and sent him home with markers and colored pencils. Those subterranean gems, now “ingrained into [his] subconscious,” bent his talents toward graffiti—disconnected from his teachers’ commissions of school posters and yearbook designs.

Graffiti was different: “large and in your face,” he says. “It was also very accessible. I didn’t have to pay to go to a museum or gallery to see it.” Eros settled in the St. Croix Valley more than 10 years ago for its slower pace. Still, part of graffiti’s enduring appeal to Eros is its speed. Hip to the constant reinventions of the medium, he teaches technique-specific classes—has been for 15 years, at schools, libraries and studio spaces.

Each month this page is devoted to artists and arts of all genres and styles. Defacing public or private property is illegal, and the magazine does not condone the act. Classes taught by Eros focus on the art form and not its illegalities; go to the website here to learn more.