December 7th, 2011
12:55 PM ET

Cops, guns and paint: Confessions of a graffiti artist

Historically, graffiti artists have not been shy in operating outside the realm of legality to get their work shown. In some cases, "tagging" a forbidden wall or other public space is even seen as a rite of passage.

Our newest 'Next Lister,' Tristan Eaton, was no exception. In his early days as a tagger, Eaton took many risks to get his graffiti art up on prime urban real estate.

Times have changed and Eaton has grown up. He's now a commercially successful artist and illustrator whose work is in high demand (he even created original art in 2008 for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama).

Eaton is no longer jumping fences and climbing fire escapes, but he's talking about it. Here he takes us back to the perilous days of his "street punk" youth, when people occasionally pulled guns on him. This particular story involves an old paint building, the police, some dogs, and a lot of conniving.

Art for art's sake is a phrase easily spoken, but in Eaton's case not easily done.

Don't forget to watch the full 30-minute profile of Tristan Eaton on "The Next List" this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on CNN.

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Filed under: Art • Innovation • The Next List • Thinkers • Video