Driving through the streets of Karantina in Beirut, you come across the latest creation of Lynn Acra, a 20 years young Lebanese student who’s been trying for months to embellish the walls of Beirut.
Disheartened by the garbage crisis and the toxic dust it creates, Lynn chose Graffiti Art as a means to express her frustration and concern. Now an Illustration & Comics Student at the ALBA School of Fine Arts, she decided to momentarily trade her pencils for a set of spray cans in order to open & delight the Eyes of the Commuters & Joggers in Beirut.
Lynn picked-up drawing at a young age. “I knew I wanted to make it my career and my parents encouraged me a lot”, she says. “I was drawing science fiction monsters, weird stuff, but I was taught at Alba to get out of my comfort zone and become polyvalent. I had to surpass myself, discover and find other approaches too.”
Lynn’s artistic introspection led her to participate to the “Secret Walls” competition, a large format drawings competition in the bars of Beirut in 2015 after a local famous graffiti artist, George Tabatadze, aka Taz, encouraged her to join. “It was a large format, two meters by two, I had never done that! But it was a good experience which led me to see the bigger picture.” Also, the graffiti artists who were present at the competition encouraged her and gave technical advice before inviting her in their team. That’s how every two to three weeks she went with them to try her skills on the tallest walls. “ I fell in love with graffiti. I have since progressed, learned new techniques.”
As much as she’s passionate about Sci-fi characters from her favourite comic “Tank Girl” (by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett), Lynn also seeks to reproduce & adapt famous visuals like “Gorillaz. Her last graffiti – a woman licking the ground – was made possible thanks to the height of the wall: “I focused on colours and was encouraged to explore an other medium than the classical black & white language I’m used to. I always search for harmony. The beauty of graffiti is that it’s an ephemeral drawing and you never know when it will wither away. I also made sure to respect the fact that it is a public space. At home, in my area, I’m quite of a provocative nature, I reflect on difficult subjects like LGBT communities , but I don’t want to be disrespectful to people who might feel embarrassed.”
After graduating, Lynn Acra wants to work as a freelancer in the field of Illustration and comics. “In any case, I want to stay in Lebanon, I could study in France but here at least we are taught versatility and don’t risk overspecialization. I don’t want to become too limited, so I can keep discovering every day. It takes many Graffiti Artists to embellish Lebanon!”
Full of ambition and ideas, she doesn’t seem afraid of the amount of work needed to get there. “The only thing that bothers me is that I’m seen first as a woman and not as an Artist. People on the street stop and are surprised to see me make a graffiti. They also tend to assume that my level is not as good as the men artists. Maybe I’ll work on this theme, it sure promises to be interesting !”