Graffiti shop splatters creativity despite legalities

Brittany Snow
Staff Writer

What was once meant to become an ice cream parlor has been transformed into Overspray, an art supply shop and gallery showcasing graffiti-inspired artwork since April 2022. 

Located on 478 East Holt Ave. in Pomona, Overspray is owned-and-operated by Gabby Leyva, Justin Manriquez and Dominic Roman. 

Manriquez serves as the connector of the trio, having met Leyva and Roman at different periods in life. The biggest connection took place at Number 18 Gallery, a graffiti gallery once held in the Pomona Packing Plant. 

From young adulthood Manriquez and Roman spent time together skateboarding and doing graffiti – expressing their creativity. Today Roman contributes to the shop by curating and assembling art shows by local or known artists. 

“Dominic is really particular about who he brings in here to try and set a precedent,” Manriquez said. “We have been asked by artists if they can showcase work and to be honest, we are booked out about a year-and-a-half in advance.”

Manriquez credits graffiti for his work in screen printing, which led him to open Third Street Graphics, a printing shop in Pomona, in 2021, next door to what would become his next business endeavor. 

Leyva was one of the first employees at the screen printing shop, translating her fine arts background into something more free and creative. From there she found the inspiration to explore this new found freedom on more public forums.

“I had always been interested in seeing graffiti growing up, and I always personally felt like it was not my place to pick it up,” Leyva said. “After working here for a little while and meeting some of the artists, they helped me realize that you can do whatever you want in the art world.”

While graffiti is often connected with criminal activity, the popular Pomona shop celebrates its artistry.

“We got a lot more support than I realized,” Manriquez said. “Some of our city council members, our community leaders are customers of ours. Not that they are going out and vandalizing property or anything, but they want to come and support us and what we’re doing.”

Overspray invites the community in to view its various artwork, particularly its current exhibit, featuring work from known artist Angel Once Barrientos and up-and-coming artist Bam One.

Barrientos is local to Pomona and has been a prominent graffiti artist with the creation of “Charlie the Pink Elephant.”  

“He’s a lucky pink elephant who looks angry,” Barrientos said. “I’m from Pomona, and growing up here you’ve got to be a little tough.” 

Overspray also hosts nighttime events to meet artists, learn more about what they do at the store and more.

“We do live hip hop or house music performances,” Manriquez said. “In the back we also have painted murals on our walls, so it adds to the ambiance, and it gets pretty crowded here.”

One of those murals was painted by Man One, or Alejandro Poli Jr., an artist with over 50,000 followers on Instagram and a portfolio of professional work. Poli’s work has been featured in an array of museums and galleries, and has worked with multiple corporations, including Coca-Cola and Disney. 

In 2002, Poli founded Crewest Gallery in Los Angeles, which gave graffiti artists a professional venue to showcase their work, similar to what Overspray does today.

“They told me that they had modeled a lot of the ideas for their shop and gallery from the one that I used to run, from 2002 to 2012,” Poli said. “I was honored. I offered a lot of support. I liked what they were doing. They are nice people, and I want them to succeed.”

Brittany Snow can be reached at brittany.snow@laverne.edu.

Brittany Snow is a junior communications major with a concentration in public relations and a minor in business management who currently serves as a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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