Artist of the week: Graffitist battling rare virus uses art to ‘lift spirits’ and help Manchester youngsters

By Samson Dada

A talented graffiti artist who battled the effects of a rare virus is determined to share his passions and expertise with budding art enthusiasts at a North Manchester youth centre.

Dave Delaney, 41, from Blackley, is a freelance tattoo graffiti artist and art co-ordinator delivering graffiti workshops two days a week at The Factory Youth Zone in Harpurhey.

He turned a hobby spanning more than two decades into a career in May 2010 after significantly regaining strength from a rare viral condition called NeuroBehçet disease that scarred the blood tissue in his brain.

Dave said: “Art helped lift my spirits during my illness and helped me cope with a very difficult period in my life.

“I think that art is something that everyone should experience no matter what their ability is.

“My advice for amateur artists is to study the work of their favourite artists and join a local youth club like ours. If they have friends who are interested in graffiti, they can exchange ideas and practice drawing together.  

From 2002 to 2009 he combined working as a teaching assistant at Trinity Church of England High School in Hulme with establishing the school’s very popular Urban Art Club for any student to try out graffiti art and participate in end of term art showcases.

He added: “I first realised I wanted to be an artist when I did graffiti and tattoo designs in Year 10 and 11 while studying at North Manchester High School for Boys,  and my love for it developed from there.”

Dave uses his trusted Sharpie permanent marker pens and popular Berol pens, tools synonymous with school children, to create a sharp and lasting black and red finish to his designs.

Speaking about the overriding theme of his work, he often sketches a word surrounded by a character but is known to change this from time to time.

He explained: “I am currently looking at opening a gallery selling my graffiti and tattoo designs in a creative environment like Afflecks Palace.” 

Citing American international artist Richard “Richie” Mirando, known as Seen UA, as his inspiration, he revealed that his favourite self-drawn art work at home are canvasses of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The graffiti artist reflected on defining the classification of art and the importance of arts receiving government funding.

He said: “Art work should not just be confined to drawing. It includes everything that produces creativity such as sculptures.

“It is vital that many talented artists who are not the most academically gifted are given an outlet to channel their skills that funding provides.

“Without financial assistance, then it is a massive waste of people’s talent and lives.”

For more information about The Factory Youth Zone, visit

Picture courtesy of Dave Delaney, with thanks

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