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San Antonio Graffiti Artist Breaks Through Gendered Stigmas

One of Sanchez's signature pieces of her tag "Dane."
Paola Sanchez
One of Sanchez's signature pieces of her tag "Dane."

Paola Sanchez has been in the San Antonio art scene for 12 years, but she's been spray painting for more than 20. She also works as a video game and graphic designer.

Sanchez entered the graffiti scene because she "wanted to express (her)self in a more physically, instant way than just doing things digitally on a computer... (and) ended up just focusing mostly on spray painting."

She goes by her graffiti tag, "Dane" and laughs when people assume she is a man. She said she believes the artwork speaks for itself, rather than the gender of the artist. Her success and name in the community has led her to a sponsorship by a Barcelona spray paint company called NBQ or Never Be Quiet.

A collaboration with all female graffiti writers.
Paola Sanchez
A collaboration with all female graffiti writers.

In San Antonio, Sanchez mentions that the graffiti culture can be slow due to the many historical buildings. Finding a space to legally paint is difficult. For this reason, she has been running behind the scenes, planning, hosting and creating spaces for the graffiti writers to gather and paint, including "Hip Hop Cup Summer Paint Jam," sponsored by The Paint Yard and NBQ PRO.

Sanchez recognizes other female graffiti writers, and is working "to let people know that women have always been in graffiti. Women have always supported." She makes sure that for every male artist at one of her events, a female is also there.

Paula Sanchez, known as "Dane" in front of NBQ paint cans.
Paola Sanchez
Paola Sanchez, known as "Dane" in front of NBQ paint cans.

She teaches in-person classes on how to spray paint and collaborates with other female graffiti artists such as Lemon and Hercrew, an all female Houston-based graffiti crew.

"I would like it to be more women inclusive and more forward thinking and light technology-wise." she says.

Despite any stigmas, Sanchez strongly believes that "graffiti is about expressing yourself and not having any limitations."

For her second volume of her Summer Paint Jam series, she will be hosting a free graffiti and hip hop festival, "Content Under Pressure" this coming Aug. 28 at the Vibes Underground Event Center 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Jia Chen is a freelance journalist and photographer for Texas Public Radio. She began with TPR working as the Bexar County selected Summer Arts Intern in 2021. Her coverage includes arts & culture, technology, politics, and more. She holds a BA in Communication from University of Texas at San Antonio and has lived in San Antonio for over 20 years.