Stockwell’s Wildstyle cafe aims to help young people through graffiti

By Joe Ives
March 17 2020, 16.00

A new shop specialising in selling spray paint aims to make graffiti a force for good in south London.

Wildstyle Cafe in Stockwell was opened by street artists Gregory Simpson, 37, and Max Pinna, 36, to provide a base for artists as well as young people in need of a creative outlet.

They have already begun outreach with local schools, raising awareness of street art culture and techniques.

Mr Simpson, also known as ‘Psych’, said: “We come from next to nothing, not being given much support as children.

“So we want to pass down what we’ve learnt.”

Part of the aim is to create a space for young people to socialise and create, reducing their likelihood of becoming involved in violence or crime.

Psych himself painted a mural about knife crime on Stockwell Lane two months ago.

He said: “I heard some guys talking about going and shanking someone. The next day I went and painted a wall.

Psych's anti-knife mural on Stockwell Lane. The painting is of a man in a red mask and hat. There are lines all over his face, signifying identity.
‘BE WHO YOU ARE’: Psych’s anti-knife mural on Stockwell Lane

“It’s about trying to be individual and be who you are and don’t get involved in or join gangs.”

Wildstyle Cafe is looking to grow its outreach by finding additional funding and community spaces. 

It recently hosted its first ‘paint jam’, with almost 50 artists in attendance. 

Psych, who also provides guided tours of the city’s best graffiti spots, says that the public response has been positive so far.

He said: “They’ve noticed with us painting these places, and with the people coming, taking photographs, it kind of disrupts the anti-social behaviour.”

Psych left school with no qualifications and has since travelled the world as a result of his work, giving talks as far afield as Beijing.

He believes that his desire to help is not unusual among street artists.

Psych said: “They’re people who do want to give back to the community because for a lot of us it’s where we come from.”

Wildstyle Cafe is set up to be an accessible environment where artists can buy affordable supplies and share sketches.

LIVING THE DREAM: Chips sketches in his shop
LIVING THE DREAM: Chips sketches in Wildstyle Cafe

Max Pinna, originally from Italy, said that opening a spray paint shop in London was a dream.

He said: “It’s a really great place. A melting pot of people from all over the world.

“Londoners see graffiti in a good way compared to other cities all around Europe which still has quite an old mentality.”

Mr Pinna, also known by his artist signature, ‘Chips’, said: “There’s a very thin line between legal graffiti and illegal graffiti.

“At the same time when people see a colourful piece with meaning behind it they enjoy it more, they understand it. This thin line disappears.”

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