“I guess you could say I started off the murals project out of selfishness,” Inez Gradzki, owner of Savage Habbit admits. Savage Habbit is another artistic platform similar to Green Villain that utilizes the Jersey City landscape. They are self proclaimed “art junkies and mural enthusiasts” whose work can be seen all around Jersey City.
“Savage Habbit is an art blog that I run and through posting about all of the awesome street art going on everywhere else, I was upset that none of that was around me to see on a daily basis, so I took it upon myself to start doing murals in my local community,” Gradzki said.
Savage Habbit was a name Gradzki’s fiancé had come up with based off of a Ghostface Killah song ‘The Forest’.
“In the song there is a line ‘Ricochet Rabbit had a habit, he was a savage’ and so from that came about the name because of my savage habit for art, with habit spelled with 2 b’s being a play-off of the word ‘rabbit’.”
The squirrel logo is the Savage Habbit mascot, identifying with the tree dwelling rodents in that they have a habit for digging for their food which Gradzki admits he too digs around to get the best street are out there.
Though Gradzki did not grow up here in Jersey City, he says that he is appreciative of what he can contribute to Jersey City and its community.
“Most of the town in Hudson County do not allow murals,” said Gradzki.
“There is no true significance to painting here in Jersey City other than I am legally able to paint here. It is an up and coming city and I am happy to contribute to its new image.”
Gradzki does say that finding a wall to paint on is just one of the challenges he faces in trying to bring life to the walls of Jersey City. Some building owners do not want to play any part in the mural projects as they feel that the paintings are defacing the property. Gradzki goes through this process countless times.
“I scope out walls then find out who owns it, I approach them with a request to paint the wall, once approved figure out who would be a good fit for the wall based off of the location, what is located around it, and what the size of the wall is. After that I can finally start organizing the artist and supplies necessary,” described Gradzki.
Getting approval to use a wall is always the most tiring part of the mural process. Trying to convince business owners can be tough, but it can be done.
“The biggest challenge was securing walls and still is. It was always difficult to convince property owners that a mural is good idea because most of the time they don’t understand the point of it or think there are some sort of strings attached,” said Gradzki.
Having 17 murals in Jersey City already, Gradzki has worked with many different realtors that allow him to work on their buildings. His main target for walls are ones that look like they have been beaten up and broken down, he uses that to his advantage to beautify the wall.
After the wall is set, Gradzki has to find the artist. He finds them based off the location of the wall and also based off of what kind of life they can bring to the wall.
”I find them through the art blog I have been able to build good relationships with artists since I know a good amount of them at this point,” explained Gradzki.
“I support them and they support me. The artists are a mix of local, national and international artists and a lot depends on when someone happens to be in town.”
You can find Savage Habbit’s work all over downtown Jersey City, but Gradzki does admit that he is not in it for the fame, in fact he has a mural in secret locations like one by Ogden’s End Community Garden in the Heights.
“It is beautifully tucked away from daily traffic. Really the only people who see it are the members of the garden and people who live in the vicinity of the dead end street. When I told people that I was going to do a mural there so many people said the same thing ‘Why are you painting there, no one will see it!?’ Yes, very little people see it but the murals I do are for the community.”
Many of the decorated walls can be found downtown. Their work is something to appreciate in person and you can use this interactive map below for some examples of their work and others work, also the addresses of the buildings that have been revamped by the community driven artists.
Click on the drop pins to reveal the murals.
Savage Habbit has a Kickstarter campaign for funding through the community. The artists are all self funding tools, paint and necessary supplies alike. This is their progress so far.
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