Know Your Street Art: Rock Paper Scissors

The game “Rock, Paper, Scissors” that kids play with their hands has its origins in finger contests dating back more than 2,000 years. The San Francisco street work called Rock, Paper, Scissors dates to May of this year, when three artists — Lauren YS, Caratoes, and Tatiana Suarez — collaborated on a formerly drab parking lot wall and turned it into something altogether radiant.

Caratoes' “Rock” is a blue-hued woman with four eyes who thrusts her fist defiantly in the air. Lauren YS' “Paper” is a red, lantern-headed figure with octopus-like tentacles that are ready to swoop in every direction. And Suarez's “Scissors” is a purplish woman who is already cutting away at Scissors' flowing lantern.

Each figure reflects the artist's personal bent, and at first glance it's unclear how the figures are entangled with each other. The work doesn't advertise its title.

“We didn't want it to be a straight-off-the bat, 'Oh, here's a three-person concept.' We liked that each portion had its own individual flair and interpretation,” says Lauren YS. “I like that people have to look at it and suss out their own ideas.”

Lauren YS has painted before with Caratoes — in Hong Kong where Cartoes lives, and with the Miami-based Suarez in Hawaii, at the Pow! Wow! art festival. For Lauren YS, who studied English and art at Stanford and graduated in 2013, Rock, Paper, Scissors is her most elaborate work in the city. Film crews captured Rock, Paper, Scissors in progress for the Jansport backpack company, which organized the piece for a national campaign.

“I'm not used to having a camera following me while I paint,” says YS, who believes her Stanford education prepared her for life as a freelance artist who also does street art.

“One thing school taught me was to be resourceful about anything I wanted — to identify what I wanted to do and to seek out support and funding,” she says. “That prepped me for a freelance career. It's been difficult but really exciting.” JC

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