The Velvet Bandit inspires through unsanctioned street art.
If you’ve wandered the streets of Sonoma County lately, you’ve likely seen the colorful clever art that’s pasted to dilapidated buildings, light poles, park benches, and dumpsters. This unsanctioned street art—focusing on all things 2020: the pandemic, voting, social justice, and evens washing your hands—is all the work of an anonymous school lunch lady turned artist who calls herself the Velvet Bandit.
Using acrylic paints on paper, the Bandit adheres her art to various public spaces using artist-grade paste. While not technically legal, her bold work is designed to educate and inspire others with messages of humor and hope. “In the beginning all my work was COVID related,” she says, “to reinforce the message about how serious the virus is and to let people know that we’re all in this together.”
But her art has since evolved into social justice and current vent art covering Black Lives Matter, saving the US Postal Service, and humorous takes on serious situations, like a woman holding a check with the phrase “Mitch Better Have My Money” during the wait for stimulus checks.
Since the project began, the Velvet Bandit has hand-painted and cut over 800 paste-ups and is on track to post 1000 before the year is up. Her work’s been pasted all over the North Bay and from Washington to Laguna Beach—some has even made its way to Italy. While her work is designed to be temporary she believes art is essential. “It’s a way for us to make a human connection,” she says, “and hopefully bring a smile and sense of comfort to those who stumble upon them.” @thevelvetbandit / thevelvetbandit.com