Dangerdust’s inspirational chalk art

Since September last year, an anonymous duo at Ohio’s Columbus College of Art and Design has been transforming chalk boards into typographic artworks under the cover of darkness. We spoke to the pair, known as Dangerdust, about their creative acts of campus vandalism…

Since September last year, an anonymous duo at Ohio’s Columbus College of Art and Design has been transforming chalk boards into typographic artworks under the cover of darkness. We spoke to the pair, known as Dangerdust, about their creative acts of campus vandalism…

Both members of Dangerdust study advertising and graphic design at CCAD. Each week, the students work through the night to decorate a black board with an inspirational quote about life, design or creativity. Those quoted so far include Nelson Mandela, Stefan Sagmeister and Ellen Lupton, and Dangerdust often draw detailed portraits of the speakers alongside their words of wisdom.

The project started as a way to relax in between course work, but Dangerdust’s art has since been viewed more than 9,000 times on Behance and the pair plan to release a new design each week for the rest of the school year.

“Working on class assignments all year can become tiring, and this was an opportunity to create work just for the fun of it,” they say. “We wanted to get away from the computer and do something that made us feel physically tired at the end of the day. We had never used chalk as a medium before we started…it was just something that was accessible, cheap and if we messed up we could always wipe away,” they add.

Each board takes between four and eleven hours to complete and requires careful planning and sketching, say Dangerdust.”Our process usually starts the night before. We spend a long time agreeing what quote we want to use. After that, we design the board by hand and eventually on the computer. [Then] we sneak into school…wipe last week’s board off and print any references we need. We grid it out, sketch it out and slowly build up the chalk, and after we think we’ve got it, we’ll wheel it out and spend a good thirty minutes squinting at it from all angles until we’re sure we’re done,” they explain.

While some might feel sad about having to wipe away hours of hard work, Dangerdust say starting anew each week is refreshing. “We love to see what we can do next. What’s really fun is that while we are erasing the board, sometimes we can see shadows of chalk from a totally different one, [which] gives the board more meaning to us.”

It’s a long and tiring process, but Dangerdust say creating each board is cathartic – and both students say the response to their designs around campus has been “wonderful”.

“We’ve always loved to work with our hands…it gives us great satisfaction to manipulate something as ordinary as a stick of chalk into something extraordinary.”

See the full set of designs here.

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