Student hones artistic skills, designs murals for campus

By Elizabeth ValenzuelaStaff Writer – evalenzu@unca.edu

Photo by Cory A. Thompson - Asst. Arts & Feat. Editor Senior Nick Belvin shows his graffiti style at Mindfulness Fest last Saturday.
Photo by Cory A. Thompson – Asst. Arts & Feat. Editor
Senior Nick Belvin shows his graffiti style at Mindfulness Fest last Saturday.

Nick Belvin, a senior, began experimenting with graffiti as a 15-year-old. His collection of work grew exponentially and some pieces can be found around the UNC Asheville campus.

Belvin does not consider himself a “street artist.” He even admitted to feeling guilty using the term and considers himself more street inspired.

“I would call myself a muralist over street artist,” Belvin said.

Last year, Belvin contributed pieces previously created to Overlook Hall at UNCA.

The Hall Council of Overlook originally thought they would buy a mural to be hung in the building, but later realized this would be a tedious process.

Instead, the council decided to use a student’s piece of work.

Meg Clark, Overlook community director, said students and herself would frequently see Belvin spray painting outside of Overlook by the parking garage.

“We decided to ask Nick if he would be willing to contribute,” Clark said. “He showed us his website and the council decided which piece they liked the best.”

The Hall Council budget was used to purchase the mural from Belvin.

More recently, Belvin experienced his proudest moment when he painted a mural in the Highsmith Student Union food court.

Jill Moffitt, assistant vice chancellor of student life, first sent out a call to all students who may be interested in creating a mural.

Eventually Belvin was sought out as a potential artist and asked to submit five sketches for the mural.

“At first school officials were not satisfied with my ideas of what I wanted to paint,” Belvin said.

This dissatisfaction led Belvin to choose mountains, something generic he knew they wouldn’t turn down.

Student input was received on the sketches and they took a vote on which sketch would be transformed into the mural.

“I think Nick’s mesh of colors caught people’s eyes,” Moffitt said.

Photo by Brian Vu - Staff Photographer Austin Grill employee April Eaton ponders Nick Belvin’s new mural in the Highsmith food court.
Photo by Brian Vu – Staff Photographer
Austin Grill employee April Eaton ponders Nick Belvin’s new mural in the Highsmith food court.

Belvin wanted a plaque to be hung next to his mural dedicated to Sergeant Jeff Ramsey, a cop who previously arrested him two and a half years ago for spray painting in public.

However, this request for the plaque was ultimately declined.

Like all artists who contribute to the art gallery in the Highsmith Student Union, Belvin received payment for his work.

According to Moffitt, overall there has been good student feedback about the mural.

Belvin said he uses a free form in designing his pieces.

“I go to a piece of cardboard, look at it and paint,” Belvin said.

There was a time when Belvin took a break from graffiti because he simply thought it wasn’t going anywhere.

When he first got into the hobby, he used stencils and spray paint, painting on wood panels in his backyard.

Belvin admits graffiti is an expensive hobby due to the price of spray cans.

He drew inspiration from graffiti artist Risk. Belvin is proud to say he self-taught himself from watching Risk’s videos on YouTube.

Belvin picked graffiti backup because he saw potential in his work.

His work was first displayed at a concert venue when he was in high school.

“I’m developing myself as an artist,” Belvin said. “And pushing the edge of graffiti.”

Belvin now said he enjoys designing tattoos for friends and continues to spray paint.

Belvin said he likes to have people look at his work and ask what they see. No matter what they say, he tells them they are exactly right.

“Graffiti is what you want it to be,” Belvin said.

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