moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
sep 30, 2013

moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth

moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
all images courtesy / © anna garforth




in an unusal take on traditional, spray-paint-approved wall art, anna garforth‘s moss graffiti emerges from brick walls as fuzzy layers of green grass. garforth creates typography and massive geometric designs and patterns with the living material, whose growth and flowering becomes a significant part of the constantly evolving piece. designboom asked anna about her creative influences, creation process, and what led her to the natural medium for her graffiti artworks. 


DB: please can you tell us about your background and how you came to do the type of work you do today?
AG: ironically, working with living materials was inspired by a trip to abney park cemetery – a woodland memorial and local nature reserve. I was fascinated by the beautiful script and moss that covers the grave stones, one stone had moss growing inside the carved out letters and it looked amazing. I collected moss from the surrounding gravestones and started to experiment, moss typography was born! from that trip the seed was planted, and the moss gave way to experimenting with many other materials and concepts that I am working on today.



moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
the moss graffiti spells out the word ‘grow’ in a script typeface



DB: what do you find is the most effective method for creating the moss compositions on the wall?
AG: everyone is keen to try and recreate moss typography, but I am afraid I cannot give away my tricks of the trade! what keeps my work unique is the precision of the moss art. This comes from years of working with the material.



moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
‘natur’, growing from the wall



DB: what do you enjoy most about working with natural mediums?
AG: I enjoy the tactility of working with organic mediums and learning how to craft it into something else. no harmful toxins or bad fumes are involved. It takes me to interesting places both through the process and working on commissions around europe. above all it gets a really positive response and people love it!




moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
a detail of the letter ‘r’, before it is placed on the wall



DB: how does typography, and other forms of graphic design, factor into your creative process?
AG: I notice typography everywhere, especially on shop fronts and old painted adverts on the sides of buildings. typography is an art form and often doesn’t need anything else around it. my guilty geek pleasure is scrolling through font lists online, there are so many great type foundries with reams of fonts. the term ‘graphic design’ has become very broad, and encompasses so many different ways of working. seeing how other designers have lifted their ideas off the page, inspired me to explore the more tactile and craft based side to graphic design. the handmade seems to play a significant role in design and creatives seem to be veering more and more towards the hands on approach, but a computer is never far behind, mixing technology with the handmade makes for a great synthesis, often one can enhance the other. a healthy balance of the two works well.




moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
a geometric installation at kings cross



DB: how do you see your work evolving, and what has been the evolution so far?
AG: the moss art so far has evolved into non typographic installations such as kings cross and the big bang. I have put moss typography on the back burner as there are new ideas to be had. from the moss came a love for working with raw materials, and I started to explore with different mediums such as cookie dough, paper, card, bioluminescent bacteria, wood etc. I want to continue to experiment with other materials, and I have a few projects in mind which will be stuff I haven’t ventured into before. my work aims to reflect the textured world we live in where many different species, plants, and manmade elements coexist.



moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
a close-up of the zig-zag pattern on the wall



DB: besides your professional work – what do you have a passion for?
AG: I have an obsession with seedums, this species of plant really cuts the mustard for me. I absolutely love the graphic shapes and clean lines of the foliage.


moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
‘the big bang’,  assembled from hundreds of moss tufts collected from stone walls



moss graffiti grows on walls by anna garforth
a detail of the moss used for ‘the big bang’

  • inspirational ! and thank you for sharing ;}

    jerry chester says:
  • Hi Anna, How are you?

    I’m a fan of your art… moss graffiti, it’s brilliant!! beautiful!! Outstanding!!!

    I’m trying to put some moss graffiti to decor my garden inside my yard… the first 2 attempts i got no results… some mistakes of mine… i tried some variations of your original formula(moss, water, beer, sugar, natural yogurt)…

    the first attempt was a complete fail, hehehe, i tried to put comercial yogurt(i didn’t have the natural yogurt), few moss, beer, sugar, water… it was weak, so i put some wheat flour to increase viscosity, however no satisfatory results…
    on the second attempt i tried more moss, yogurt(comercial again), beer, sugar, water…. and… no positive results again…
    Third attempt(today), i tried to copy your formula(step by step), but a little variation; I put moss(a lot), water, hydro gel, natural yogurt(i guess this was the real problem with the first two attempts), mixed all… the viscosity is low again, so i put some sugar to try to increase viscosity… put again on the wall, let’s wait…
    this time I guess i will reach the desired results, because I put natural yogurt. however, it’s hard to know, because is summer in Brazil, so, dry weather doesn’t help me…

    I would like you to share a little of your knowledge with this poor mortal, hahahah, can you answer me these questions:

    1- what is the main principle behind the moss grafitti?? yogurt/milk with lemon??
    2- sometimes moss is ‘red'(seems to be dead, but in presence of water, it become green again), is there some difference between moss: alive or dead??

    Thank you so much for your patience, and thank you for develop such outstanding art, world needs more criative persons such you!!!
    Best Regards!

    Thiago Dornelles says:
  • Hi Michael, thanks for your comment.

    I am the artist that created the moss artworks. I have never termed them ‘graffiti’ but over the years the internet has pigeon holed it as graffiti.. I would rather consider it ‘moss / living art’. Most of the pieces were commissioned artworks (I have a big respect for graff artists, but I don’t consider my artwork to be part of the graffiti scene).

    All the artworks are carefully cultivated, and installed but often the pieces don’t last beyond a few weeks, as they may not have the right conditions in which to grow, in which case they just fall off the wall leaving no trace. It is part of the transitory nature of the art.

    Once the police did catch me, because a neighbour alerted them of seeing someone climbing over a wall…when they saw what I was doing they thought it was great and told me to carry on doing what I do! I have never received any negative comments, and the artwork has never had a negative impact on where it has been grown.

    anna garforth says:
  • As was previously stated, “I would love to see photos of these 3 months after they have been made.”

    If not kept up, they would look like any unshaven, untrimmed, unwashed bearded face. More importantly, I didn’t see any mention of getting permission from the property owners. I also love the idea, but not so much the assumption that everyone will…especially the property owner. Graffiti is graffiti.

    Michael Hogan says:
  • Would love if Anna did this sort of thing in Chicago. There are tons of industrial-looking areas in the West Loop/Meatpacking District that’d look even more awesome with some of these letters!

    Daniel says:
  • Very creative and naturalistic, if there is a creative mind, there will definitely be a design!

    designlit says:
more comments

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
505,828 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine