Madeiline Siena, 13, of West Babylon, holds up her stencil...

Madeiline Siena, 13, of West Babylon, holds up her stencil street art shirt she created at Graff Lab Studio in Holtsville on April 26. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

Street art once found primarily in subways and abandoned spaces is now an art form zooming to stardom. Today, graffiti and street artists are often commissioned to create works that can be found in museums and on clothing and accessories. Think: Sprayground backpacks.

“I feel the shift happening,” says Julia LaMarca, director One River School of Art + Design in Port Jefferson. “There's a lot of support these days for commissioned murals on large public spaces.”

To encourage exploration of art forms, Long Island art schools and camps for kids and teens are offering classes where street art experimentation can take place in controlled settings.

Ryleigh Spark, 7, of Manorville, and her cousin Julia Mars,...

Ryleigh Spark, 7, of Manorville, and her cousin Julia Mars, 8, of Patchogue, pick from the hundreds of pre-made stencils at Graff Lab Studio in Holtsville on April 26. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

At One River, basic street art summer and digital street art workshops introduce elementary through high school-age students to the history of the art and kick-start experimentation in a classroom setting. La Marca says she tells the students before she begins each class, “This isn’t meant to secretly mark up a wall somewhere, because that’s illegal. We’re expressing ourselves with street art on a canvas in the classroom.”

Here are more ways to experiment and learn about the art form in educational spaces this summer:


One River 

One River's basic class is geared toward children in third to fifth grade, while galaxy-themed and digital programs are for sixth through 12th grade. Students take an in-depth look at street artists from the past. In the galaxy class, kids focus on how to make original stencils and to create a solid texture for planets, stars and swirling galaxy shapes. “It’s such a free style. Kids can focus on letters, animal images and cool fantasy stuff,” LaMarca says. In the digital street art class, kids create using Photoshop in the computer lab.

MORE INFO Locations in Woodbury, Manhasset and Port Jefferson;; sessions start at $365 per week. 

Graff Lab Studio

At Graff Lab Studio, founder Danny Cross offers street art camp programs. His experience stems from his background as a street artist when he was in his teens. Cross, who grew up in Central Islip, says he quickly learned there were better ways to apply his graffiti-style skills and started a business painting clothing and airbrushing T-shirts. “These days, I want to shine a light on graffiti for the younger generations coming up and show them there’s a safe and correct way to do it,” he says. “There’s no reason to create art illegally because there are so many positive ways to do it now.”

During the studio's camp program, Cross and his staff show the campers original street artists’ work and study the letter styles and symbols. Cross says, “We tell kids they each have their own personal styles — the way they walk, talk and dress. They can take that and put it into a letter form.” From there, kids come up with logos or characters that represent them and place them on bags, shirts and more. 

Camper Brianna Naumann, 16, of St. James, says, “I think the best thing I made was a skate deck. I got to decorate it and paint an octopus symbol on it. I put an octopus on a lot of my art so people will know it’s mine.” Her sister, Larissa, 14, also attends camp and says, “I like making the graffiti letters because they don’t look the way letters normally do. They can be more crazy.”

MORE INFO 1600 N. Ocean Ave., Suite 9, Holtsville, running July 8-Aug.15; or 12 Millers Lane, New Hyde Park, running July 15-Aug. 9; 631-265-6508; New Syosset location slated to open this summer. Camp is $575 per week. 

Angela Newman, manager of Graff Lab Studio in Holtsville, uses...

Angela Newman, manager of Graff Lab Studio in Holtsville, uses a Newsday stencil the studio made to demonstrate the basics of stencil street art. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin


This summer, kids can select “street art” as a major or minor focus at Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts. Krista Biedenbach, a lead painting, drawing and art instructor, begins her street art program by introducing the materials the kids will work with and stressing those materials are to be used only within the Usdan studio. Each kid proposes a street art project they can create with water-based paints and spray paint, India ink, various boards, a canvas or large wood panels. Each idea turns into a plan and the kids make it happen.

MORE INFO 185 Colonial Springs Rd., Wheatley Heights. 631-643-7900;; July 29-Aug. 23, offered during Usdan's day camp, which includes transportation, additional activities and more.


Riverhead festival 

On May 26 from noon-5 p.m., head over to the Mosaic Festival in the Riverhead Arts District. The street will be closed, so artists of all ages and stages can draw right on the ground. For $25, purchase a vibrant box of chalk and work on a square section of the street where you can create chalk art from the heart.

Diane Burke, executive director East End Art School in Riverhead, describes the event as a “way to engage artists at all different levels. You have little children doing chalk art alongside established artists or hobbyists.” 

MORE INFO Free to attend;


The Nassau County Museum of Art presents a street art exhibit known as “The Urban Art Revolution” through July 7. The galleries feature a diverse range of more than 30 NYC graffiti and street artists from the '70s and '80s, along with contemporary street artists. Almost all exhibit sections have a kid-friendly tone. Works by graffiti artist Kenny Scharf are featured in the show, and visitors will see his graffiti style was inspired while growing up watching cartoons. 

WHEN | WHERE Through July 7; 1 Museum Dr., Roslyn

MORE INFO $15, $5 ages 4-11; 516-4894-9338;


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