For Cities and Public Schools


Cate stencils custom Magnolia Trees for graffiti prevention project.

Cate stencils custom Magnolia Trees for graffiti prevention project in Ann Arbor, MI – May, 2016

Cities: Prevent Graffiti Tagging with Stencils

(See Before and After photos in Gallery)

* To be clear:  the “graffiti” we are referring to is not graffiti art, or street art.  It refers to the random spray paint scribbles, or “tags”, on businesses and public buildings/structures.

Olive’s stencils (mostly the large trees) have been successful as a graffiti (or “tagging”) prevention tactic.

A local business owner and massage therapist in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rebecca Arends, conducted a year-long study (2015-2016) focusing on anti-graffiti solutions.  She chose ten of the most frequently “tagged” businesses in Ann Arbor and offered to stencil them for her experiment.  She monitored them for the next year.

The results were amazing:  “There has been over a 90% reduction in tags over the past year … because it’s nature.  There’s nothing in it that invites a tag, or an angry outburst, or acting out. I think that’s why it’s working.” – Rebecca Arends

Trees are calming

Researchers on the psychological and/or physiological effect of trees have concluded that trees are calming and beneficial for health and well-being.  This happens to us involuntarily when we are taking a walk in the woods, or even looking at pictures of trees.

“New studies suggest that viewing even an image of a tree or a forest canopy bolsters the parasympathetic division of the central nervous system that naturally induces calm.” – from Huffington Post article by Richard E. Cytowic (Neurologist & Author)

Knowing this, it is easy to understand why re-tagging almost never occurred on the tree-stenciled walls.  And who doesn’t like trees?  In Ann Arbor, many passers by have been spotting taking selfies against these stenciled walls.  Not only are they a great graffiti prevention idea, but the trees also bring smiles to everyone walking by.

This wall faces a restaurant and was often tagged.

This wall faces a restaurant and was often tagged.

Jeff and Rebecca stencil trees. Now patrons have a much prettier view and the restaurant owner was thrilled.

Jeff and Rebecca stencil trees. Now patrons have a much prettier view and the restaurant owner was also thrilled.



Stencils vs. Murals for Graffiti Prevention

Wall murals of any kind can reduce graffiti.  They can, however, be quite costly.  It also costs to repair a mural.  Damage and re-tagging are always possible.

Anyone can paint a stencil, however.  That eliminates the cost of hiring a professional artist.  Stencils are reusable and often, you will only need one to create a whole forest scene.  An additional money-saver is storing the stencil for future use.  This is a quick and easy fix for any damage or re-tagging.  Therefore, because not everyone can afford a giant wall mural, stencils are a wonderful option.

Check out our Large Tree Stencils page.  The trees were created from Cate’s original, hand-drawn artworks.  If you have a large area to cover, you might prefer a larger, custom stencil (like the Magnolia Trees in Ann Arbor).  Cate was intrigued by Rebecca’s project and created the Magnolia Tree design for a particularly large wall.  Rebecca and the building owners also invited Cate to stencil the trees herself to demonstrate the range of artistic possibilities one has with stenciling.  She did a couple of other stencil projects around town as well.  See our gallery for more photos.

Contact Cate for more information about custom work and/or an artist’s visit.


MLive – Ann Arbor is fighting graffiti with tree-themed art and getting results

MLive – New Painting Welcomes Visitors to Ann Arbor…

WXYZ News – Local student uses public art to battle graffiti in Ann Arbor

MLive – What’s the story behind all the trees being painted on Ann Arbor buildings?