When Marcus Story shakes and sprays, a crowd gathers to watch the artist at work.

For the past six months to a year, Story has traveled from his base in Englewood, N.J., to small cities where he entertains while creating colorful spray-paint works on demand.

The places he’s been recently include Pittsburgh; Knoxville, Tenn.; Nashville; Chattanooga, Tenn.; New Orleans; Miami; Panama City, Fla.; Virginia Beach, Va.; several towns in Maryland; and now Savannah, he said.

If it works out right, Story will earn a living while traveling around the country.

“This stuff I sign with [the name] Budda, but it helps me get around,” Story said of his spray-paint paintings. “I also get paid to kind of move around the country.”

Story said he learned fine art techniques by working as a model for other artists. “It was 20 minutes on, five minutes off. My first session just sitting in the chair, I learned so much,” he said. “After that I ended up modeling for the next four years and also taking classes from a couple of the teachers.” 

 

"He’s amazing," said New Jersey art teacher Amy Dudash Robinson, who said Story was a model for her portraiture classes a while ago and has shown his work at an art gallery at the Art School at Old Church in Demarest, N.J.,  where she is assistant executive director.

"He’s a fantastic guy. He’s very creative. He took off in my class and he did some fantastic work," Robinson said. "And he’s very inspiring."

But to make money as a spray-paint artist, it helps to have Story’s outgoing personality. In Reynolds Square, Story chatted with Joseph Sajwan and Davis Hunsinger, who were killing time before the St. Patrick’s Day parade. “We’re walking around getting away from it all for a second,” Hunsinger said.

Story showed them a liquor bottle in the hand of the John Wesley statue in Reynolds Square that day and then said, “Also I do art.”

“He’s also really nice. He told us to come back over here and we did,” Hunsinger said.

Story previously performed music and worked as an audio engineer at a jazz studio, she said. He became interested in spray paint art from a graffiti artist who painted his car. Story also tried spray-painting his car himself, and then spray-painted sheet after sheet of paper before moving to canvas, which he sold at coffee houses. “By the time I got to 15, I sold enough to pay for more paint,” he said.

He said he saw the spray-paint technique he uses for his outdoor art on the internet. “I just started doing it,” he said. “I had to be outside to do it. I wasn’t averse to performing” because of his background as a musician.

Story sprays different colors of paint in layers on a canvas, covering some areas to protect them from darker colors. He can then etch drawings into the paint before it dries to create a landscape, nightscape or city scene.

Last year, Story sold about 700 paintings, he told a customer in Savannah who purchased a painting from him on St. Patrick’s Day. He said he has painted 108 paintings so far this year.

Story also paints using acrylic and oil, including portraits and other custom artwork. His website, Marcus-Story.com, displays his studio work available from $200 for a midsize acrylic to $1,600 for a large oil painting.

“I try to keep my spray-paint art and my studio art separate,” Story said. A separate website, BuddaBlack.com, shows spray-paint demonstrations, portraits and murals. It quotes prices for spray-paint paintings starting at $70 and oil-paint portraits for as much as $2,500.

Joseph Champy purchased a large spray-painted canvas from Story on Saturday. “It’s just the colors and the design of it. It just caught my attention,” he said.