How We Brought Clean Graffiti To Life

How We Brought Clean Graffiti To Life

Hello! This is Paula Bartlett, one of the owners of The Savage Way.  I write these blogs but today wanted to share the story of how we brought Clean Graffiti to life from my perspective. Enjoy.

We get asked daily, “What exactly is Clean Graffiti?” Ten years in and we’re still fortunate enough to explain this disruptive outdoor advertising medium to people. And it’s just as exciting every time! However, I don’t think we’ve ever shared how Clean Graffiti came about for us. So here is the story of how we brought Clean Graffiti to life.

Prior to The Savage Way, Torrie worked in the marketing and advertising industry. She spent 10 years in media buying for a few different employers. She was responsible for managing budgets and getting as much unique exposure for her clients as possible. So her brain was always thinking in ads; looking at billboards, magazine ads, bus ads, etc. Well one day she was pressure washing the driveway at her parent’s house and free-handed the name “Savage.” (pressure washing the dirt away to leave the “cleaned” letters showing). Immediately her brain thought, “That would be a great ad, but it would have to be crisp and follow brand standards.”

She did what we all do when we have an idea and Googled it, sure enough, there was an artist in Europe (Paul Curtis aka Moose) who was pressure washing art onto old, dirty walls. The results were beautiful. Using mother nature to create art was a revolutionary idea to her. Fast forward a few years, The Savage Way started. At the time we were a marketing agency helping clients with social media, business openings, community engagement, etc. Torrie casually mentioned this sidewalk advertising idea to me one day and I said, “What are we doing?! This is incredible. Let’s do that!” Immediately we started researching and trying to see how we could bring this idea to life. I remember countless late nights in Torrie’s loft in the NoDa neighborhood in Charlotte, NC where we would just dream and talk about how we would do this out-of-the-box idea.

But before we could even work out all the details, an opportunity knocked on our door. We were introduced to a marketing legend in Charlotte, Blair Primis. He was the VP of Marketing for a privately owned orthopedic surgeons office. Blair was open to new ideas and always looking for ways to make his brand stand out. And I’ll never forget sitting down with him to pitch some ideas and seeing the light in his eyes and smile on his face when we told him our idea. “Genius,” he said. “I want the biggest option you’ve got.” WHAT?! To have someone believe in your idea when you haven’t even physically done a campaign yet… it was the exact boost that we needed.

We left that meeting saying give us a few months to figure this thing out and we will be ready to go. Torrie and I worked with such passion and excitement to bring this idea to fruition. When the day came to see our stencil (the first iteration) being pressure washed onto the sidewalk, we did a little happy dance. This was real. Clean Graffiti was a thing. A major brand was paying us to advertise on this untapped asset that Mother Nature created. It was all so thrilling.

No one tells you how tricky it is to start a business that is disruptive to the space. No one was doing what we were doing and it was a lot of trial and error to land where we did. To say we were green was an understatement. We went through so many iterations of the stencil, how we selected spots, how many spots to offer, and how to price this service no one knew they wanted. But selling this to clients was something that Torrie did have experience in. Her decade of media buying allowed us to know what a client would be looking for. It gave us insight into crafting these packages that could compete with billboard buys and other outdoor advertising opportunities.

So we kept going and focused on selling Clean Graffiti to clients. Along the way we have carved our own path and had the chance to really grow this industry. One of our European counterparts, Jim Bowes, happened to be in Nashville, TN early on and made a road trip from Charlotte, NC to chat with him on his experiences doing “Reverse Graffiti” (what he called it). It was so fun to talk shop with someone who got it and was dealing with similar hurdles. Read more about it in our blog from 2014. I never thought in a million years that Torrie and I would be strategically cleaning sidewalks for a living. Haha – it makes us laugh every time that we see dirty concrete, “Oh, thats a fantastic canvas!”

That was over ten years ago. Since then, we’ve completed work in 70+ cities across the US including Los Angeles, CA, Portland, OR, Vancouver, WA, New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Baltimore, MD, Austin, TX, Houston, TX, and countless other cities and towns across the country. We’ve worked with companies/brands like Diet Coke, The Rolling Stones, Carolina Panthers, Truist Bank, The ACC Tournament, Novant Health, county & state agencies and so many more.

Now you may be asking why do our clients use Clean Graffiti? There are a myriad of reasons, but a few to note:

  1. Unexpected: In our overstimulated world, seeing a message on the ground is novel and captures attention.
  2. Longevity: Spots can last from one month to over 6 months, depending on the type of dirt, weather, traffic, etc.
  3. Creative: Using dirt to create a brand message is so far out of the norm that it doesn’t fit in a box.
  4. It’s Just Water: Our medium is eco-friendly in that is is made just using water – no paint, acid, bleach or etching.
  5. Temporary: Clients love it for an event-driven ad campaign where we remove the spots after the event date.
  6. Impactful: The sidewalk is an untapped resource that allows for brand awareness, inspiration or event-driven info where it’s never been before.

We always love telling the story of how we brought Clean Graffiti to life. We believe in this medium and know that our innovation is sparking creative ideas and sending out inspiration all of the time. We’re ready when you are to clean some sidewalks!

Creative Uses of Clean Graffiti

Creative Uses of Clean Graffiti

We love all of the creative uses of Clean Graffiti that we can offer our clients. From general brand awareness campaigns to feel-good inspirational messages on the sidewalk, the possibilities are vast with this medium. We wanted to showcase a few of our favorite creative uses from over the years. Maybe this will inspire your next campaign with us.

For those that don’t know, Clean Graffiti is an advertising and messaging medium that The Savage Way has been offering for over 10 years now. We’ve been in 70+ markets across America and we continue to be the leaders in the U.S. in this space. Also known as Reverse Graffiti, Clean Graffiti is created using a stencil, pressure washer and naturally dirty sidewalks. We use high-pressure water to clean a message onto the sidewalk. We are not painting, spraying any chemicals or altering the integrity of the sidewalk in any way. It’s just water. 🙂 Check out some frequently asked questions here.

Now on to the creative uses of Clean Graffiti that we have loved over the years.

Tend Dentistry: New York City: The folks at Tend Dentistry in the Flatiron District in Manhattan came to us with this cheeky play-on-words that we could make into Clean Graffiti. The fact that we are both just cleaning away dirt (aka plaque) was just perfect. Love when brands can get playful and fun with their advertising.

OrthoCarolina: Multi-cities in North Carolina: OrthoCarolina had been a client of ours for a while and we had done tons of branding campaigns together (check out past project blogs for more details).  However, as a group of private orthopedic surgeons who specialize in fixing broken bones, we thought of this clever “Watch Your Step” Clean Graffiti campaign. The idea was while we were out executing campaigns and we saw dangerous, broken sidewalks, we would put down this safety message for pedestrians or cyclists brought to you by OrthoCarolina. Just a subtle reminder that *if* you did need a bone specialist, you would know who to call.

(Left) Greenpeace #IStand4Solar in Charlotte, NC: The global non-profit, Greenpeace, asked us to create an impactful Clean Graffiti campaign for the Charlotte market. We wanted to do something that was not only a directive (stand here and notice) but told the passerby to use on social media (using the #). We saw great interaction with the Clean Graffiti which led users to learn more about the Greenpeace mission – to use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

(Right): NC Department of Transportation, Watch For Me Campaign in small beach towns in NC: This was a campaign that we ran for several years that focused on pedestrian and cyclist safety, Watch For Me NC. We put these down across coastal beach towns that saw a huge influx of tourists in the summer months. The NCDOT gave us specific data that pinpointed where vehicles crashed with pedestrians that either ended in an accident or fatality. There are such limited advertising opportunities in these small, rural towns, so Clean Graffiti was not only a viable option, but it was welcomed as an opportunity to actually make meaningful communication with the community.

(Left) Not Just Coffee, Charlotte, NC: Not Just Coffee is a locally-owned coffee shop that came up the same time that The Savage Way did. We are friends with the owners and we pitched them the idea of Clean Graffiti with a play-on-words with their name. We know that everyone LOVES coffee and social media posts with anything coffee related always got great engagement, but NJC was so invested in the community that they were more than just a place to grab coffee. We came up with “Love People, Not Just Coffee.” Genius. We partnered with local artist, Matt Hooker, to help with the creative and this beautiful message was born!

(Right): #ExploreYour704 NoDa Brewing, OrthoCarolina in Charlotte, NC: #ExploreYour704 was an intricate idea that we came up with that included a Clean Graffiti “Scavenger Hunt,” huge mural on the side of a brewery, multiple vendors and a big launch party that encouraged walking. To say this was an unusual case study is an understatement. In fact, doing a Clean Graffiti scavenger hunt is not something we even offer, but we are obsessed with how we used dirty sidewalks to create a movement game, celebrate the city we live in and bring awareness to our clients at the same time. Read more about it in the blog.


So that’s a quick snapshot of some of the creative uses of Clean Graffiti over the years. Check out our instagram for more examples. We look forward to creating more marketing magic using our eco-friendly advertising alternative.

RAIN CLT Uses Clean Graffiti for 2023 AIDS Walk

RAIN CLT Uses Clean Graffiti for 2023 AIDS Walk

Our friends at RAIN CLT utilized Clean Graffiti to help bring awareness to the upcoming AIDS Walk Charlotte event happening Saturday, May 6, 2023. We love to see organizations and companies use Clean Graffiti to help get a public health message out to the community. In fact, it is one of our favorite ways to use this medium. We are able to target an audience where they are walking and give them an unexpected message of encouragement or bring awareness to an event.

Clean Graffiti, aka pressure washed message of "Stomp Out Stigma. AIDS Walk Charlotte" on Charlotte, NC city sidewalk by The Savage Way.

The AIDS WALK brings the Charlotte community together to “stomp out” HIV stigma and raise funds for RAIN CLT. According to the RAIN website, “Every dollar raised stays in Charlotte to support the services and programs RAIN provides to people living with HIV and those at risk. For 31 years, RAIN has been empowering persons living with HIV and those at risk to be healthy and stigma free.”

AIDS WALK Charlotte continues to be the largest HIV fundraising walk in the Carolinas and since 1997 has raised over $3.3 million. That’s incredible! Stomping out the stigma when it comes to sexual health and HIV / AIDS awareness is so important and we are honored to be a part of helping to spread the message. The walk is roughly two miles long and takes the average person around 30 minutes to complete. This family affair fundraiser is open to all.

Location: Wells Fargo Atrium & Plaza, 301 S. Tryon Street
When: Saturday, May 6 9am – 12pm (Rain or shine)
Register: Here

Please check out the amazing work of RAIN CLT and make sure to sign up for the walk this weekend!

Reasons To Use Clean Graffiti for Advertising

Reasons To Use Clean Graffiti for Advertising

Clean Graffiti is a service that The Savage Way has been offering for almost 10 years now, and everyday we still explain it to someone for the first time. When you have created a new way to do something, this is an inevitable reality. We wanted to breakdown exactly why Clean Graffiti is a great option for clients looking to spread the word about their business.

Also known as “Reverse Graffiti,” Clean Graffiti is ideal for clients who are looking for innovative brand awareness, spreading the word of an event-driven initiative, or looking to increase their Corporate Social Responsibility. Clean Graffiti is the perfect addition to your traditional media buy because we are able to directly target your customer with an untapped resource – the sidewalk. And best of all, it’s just water – no paint, no chemicals, just water.

Seriously, let’s break it down. This is why Clean Graffiti is an amazing out-of-home marketing opportunity for your clients.

It’s Just Water (aka Eco-friendly Advertising)

Yes, it really is created simply using high pressure water and dirt. It is an eco-friendly alternative to other outdoor advertising opportunities (think billboards, bus stop ads, posters, etc). Using a pressure washer and a technologically advanced stencil, our team sprays the water on top of the stencil and leaves a clean message on a dirty sidewalk. That’s it… no chemicals, no bleach, no acid, no paint… just water! Check out this video to see a glimpse into the process.

Targeted Marketing

Clean Graffiti allows you to target your customer exactly where they are walking – the sidewalk. In this social media-crazed day-in-age, everyone is already looking down at their phone, why not leave an unexpected message on the sidewalk to drive your brand home? We always get the question of ROI. We wish we had a way to tell you exactly how many eyeballs are on your ad, but much like postering or other guerrilla style marketing efforts, we can give you a ballpark. Our team is experienced in marketing & advertising and our Founder did Media Buying for 10 years before starting The Savage Way. We know where the people are walking in these hot neighborhoods that will give the best reach for your campaign.

It’s Innovative

When you are buying media for yourself or a major client, they are always asking for the next best opportunity to get their name out there. They want to “go viral” which translates to being seen by their customers. Clean Graffiti is a great medium to pitch to your clients. It’s innovative and different and let’s them get their name in a place they have never been able to before – the sidewalk! Especially when reverse graffiti is a part of a larger media plan, we find that this non-traditional advertising purchase works so well.

Guerrilla Marketing at its Finest.

We always joke that we never thought we’d be strategically cleaning sidewalks for a living, but here we are! We get to operate in a gray area and that allows us to get creative with placements. By all means we respect the public space and are always mindful of the message in regards to the content and the actual placement (aka – we would never put a media spot directly in front of a competitor). We know that we are a new medium for people and we are always looking to partner with cities and county boards, not piss them off. Because at the end of the day we are simply taking something OFF the sidewalk. 😉

Get Creative with Branding

Clean Graffiti is a great way for companies to have some fun with their branding. We always encourage a message that is fun, witty or will make a person stop and smile. A supreme example of this was a campaign we pitched to an orthopedic surgeon’s practice where we found broken or uneven sidewalk squares and put down a “Watch Your Step” Clean Graffiti message. It was just genius – helpful to the public AND brought to you by a client who could help you if you DID fall.

Create Organic Third-Party Content

This type of unexpected messaging under your feet is an excellent example of an advertising campaign that someone will take a picture of and post to their own social media. When is the last time that someone took a picture of your client’s billboard or bus ad?? Not that often! But Clean Graffiti is cool, eco-friendly and *hopefully* a fun, lighthearted message that simply helps spread brand awareness. That organic third-party content is something that you just can’t pay for normally!

The Savage Way Team is Experienced

We have been blessed to work with so many amazing clients. Here are some of the highlights: The Rolling Stones, Talkspace, Diet Coke, Bud Light, Novant Hospital, Atrium Health, Mecklenburg County, Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, The ACC Tournament, Clean Juice, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte FC, Lululemon, MetroHealth Cleveland, Whistlepig Whiskey and many more.

Cost Effective Out of Home Advertising Alternative

We get it. Billboards and bus ads are expensive. It is a costly investment for a 1 month run of an ad on a typical billboard opportunity, especially if you request a high-visibility board. That is what makes Clean Graffiti a fantastic alternative. Clean Graffiti gets you RIGHT under the feet of your target market for a fraction of the cost. And best of all, our spots can last anywhere from 1 month to 8 months.

How A Campaign Looks

Campaigns can all be customized but a typical package is 1 specially designed stencil, 10 Clean Graffiti media placements within a 1-2 mile radius in a targeted neighborhood/city. Our team executes end-to-end and then we provide a full recap with maps, list of locations and photos for social media use. We operate all over the USA and have been in over 75 cities. Our team is experienced and can travel almost anywhere for a job.

We find that the best practices for a Clean Graffiti campaign include using the medium for brand awareness with a funny/witty/eye-catching message. No one really likes to see just a logo on the ground. Making note that way-finding can be tough – it has to be the most perfect concrete and there is no guarantee it will be dirty on the corner to show an arrow (make sense?). We find that flexibility and trust in our team always makes the end product better for the client.

So now that you know the ins and outs of a Clean Graffiti campaign, hit us up when you are ready to finally do something different!


Mecklenburg County Clean Graffiti: Gun Violence Prevention

Mecklenburg County Clean Graffiti: Gun Violence Prevention

On the topic of recent Clean Graffiti news, The Savage Way has collaborated with the Mecklenburg County Public Health Department, Novant Health & Atrium Health to take action towards the prevention of gun violence. Our team was excited when we were presented with the opportunity to help bring a stop to gun violence in Mecklenburg county, and instantly wanted to be a part of the activism. 

For the actual Clean Graffiti design, the Mecklenburg County team envisioned, created, and presented an image for us to bring to life. The chosen message was meaningful and impactful. The reverse graffiti message contains a hand with a heart crushing a gun with the words “Violence Free Zone,” written below it. The hand & heart combination represents two things that are necessary in order to end gun violence; a strong community and love.

Not only is our Clean Graffiti eco-friendly, but it is also eye-catching and sheds a new light on how to creatively advertise for companies, community initiative, events and much more. We located target bus stops and schools within Mecklenburg County where gun violence is an ongoing issue. Our team placed 20 spots around West Charlotte & Northwestern Charlotte neighborhoods that had high foot-traffic and bystander interaction.

Below are some of the actual spots we placed around the city:

Five images of clean graffiti (aka pressure washed messages on the sidewalk) for Mecklenburg County Gun Violence Prevention

Looking to learn more about this community safety campaign and why Novant, Atrium and the county partnered? Check out this exclusive article featured on


The Savage Way Update

The Savage Way Update


We wanted to take a moment to reintroduce ourselves. We’re The Savage Way – a woman owned & led team of artists, marketers and creatives. We have been busy over the past few years and wanted to share some updates.


  • Moved our studio to a 4,500 sqft warehouse in Charlotte, NC
  • Rebranded & relaunched
  • Entered 7 new markets for Clean Graffiti including LA, Austin & Cleveland
  • Began creating large scale Fern Frames for residential and corporate clients
  • Launched our Moss Art Online Shop
  • First Art show at The Brooklyn Collective
  • Welcomed 7 new team members

For those of you new here, we exclusively do two things – Moss Art and Clean Graffiti.

A split screen of Moss Art and Clean Graffiti by The Savage Way


Clean Graffiti, aka reverse graffiti, is an outdoor advertising campaign that is innovative, eco-friendly and a great way to capture the attention of your target market where they walk – the sidewalk. And best of all, it’s created using just water – no paint, no chemicals, just water. Our advanced stencil technology allows us to maintain brand standards for some of the biggest brands – The Rolling Stones, NFLs Carolina Panthers, major healthcare companies and more.

4 pictures of Clean Graffiti, pressure washed messages on the sidewalk


Our clients took us across the country for these eco-friendly advertising campaigns including Los Angeles, CA, Austin, TX and Cleveland, OH!

  • Talkspace in Austin & Los Angeles
  • Rolling Stones / Tepper Sports & Entertainment
  • Multifamily Apartments: Northwood Ravin (multi-city), Cortland Apartments in Texas
  • Cacti Launch for Anheuser-Busch
  • Public Health: Anti-Gun violence campaign with Meck County/Novant Health/Atrium Health, HIV Prevention for MetroHealth in Cleveland, OH
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Pendleton Whiskey / French West Vaughn
  • Non Profits: Hue House / Digital Navigators, Pat’s Place, Isabella Santos Foundation
  • High Point Furniture Market Major NC Event
  • Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit
  • Local Businesses: Planet Fitness, Skydive Carolina, Plumped CLT, Carolina Pharmacy
  • And many more

Past examples of Clean Graffiti by The Savage Way


Our moss offerings have evolved from reindeer moss logos to now creating large scale installations, interior design elements, sound-absorbing panels, incorporating neon signs, etc. We work hand-in-hand with Architects, General Contractors, Millworkers and Business Owners to bring the vision to life. Moving to our new studio has increased our capacity 10 fold and we are excited to be taking on more and more projects at large scale.

4 different Moss Art pieces from 2021


  • Architecture Firms: BB+M Architecture, Perkins Eastman
  • Designers: Southpark Interiors, Free Space Design, Design Bar, Cline Design, Urban Design Partners, Liquid Design
  • Contractors/Sign Companies: Onsite Millworking, Southwood, Warco Construction
  • Multifamily: Northwood Ravin, Wood Partners, Alta Wren, Alta Davis, Greystar Apartments
  • Other Businesses: Bank of America Corporate HQs, Carolina Sports Clinic, Clariant Corporation, UNC Charlote
  • Private Collectors
  • Pop Art Collaborations with Jen Hill, Cheeks
  • And many more

Colorful plant art examples by The Savage Way


Lastly, we launched our online residential Moss Shop in December 2021. We have been asked for years by customers, fans and friends to offer a residential line of Moss Art and we finally did! You can now buy 8 different and unique Moss Art products for your home – from a Mood bowl or colorful Hamsa to merchandise. Check out everything at We will be dropping new collections and artwork periodically, so be sure to sign up for our email blast to stay in the know.

Moss Art online shop items displayed as an example

As The Savage Way continues to grow in both our Moss Art and Clean Graffiti offerings, we just want to take a moment of gratitude. We are so excited about this company we have created, the amazing women we have on the team and the fact that we get to play in Mother Nature all day. Seriously, it is a dream we’ve cultivated over the years and we are so proud. So here’s to good dirt, lots of moss and tons of laughter in the year ahead. Hit us up with any questions.

Carolina Panthers x OrthoCarolina Launch Contest

Carolina Panthers x OrthoCarolina Launch Contest

Okay Carolina Panthers fans… it’s time to do your dance! We are honored to partner with our friends at OrthoCarolina & the Carolina Panthers for a Touchdown Dance Contest. We have put six Clean Graffiti Dance Zones in Uptown Charlotte in hopes that you will see a spot, do a little dance, have some fun and be entered to win 4 home game tickets!

A little about Clean Graffiti – it’s advertising made with water. That’s right, Clean Graffiti is made by pressure washing a stencil onto the sidewalk. We use a specialized stencil to create the artwork and our team then maps out the advertising campaign to capture the most benefit for the client. From company logos to community safety messages to fun social contests, Clean Graffiti is a great way to target your audience in an unexpected and environmentally friendly way!

The Savage Way pressure washes an advertisement onto the sidewalk for the Carolina Panthers
Touchdown Dance Zone Contest for the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte
#TDContest location for the OrthoCarolina & Panthers Clean Graffiti contest

It’s easy to enter. Follow these steps:
1. Find a Touchdown Dance Zone made with Clean Graffiti (aka reverse graffiti) in various locations on the sidewalks near Bank of America Stadium.

2. Do your favorite touchdown dance on camera and post it to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

3. Use the hashtag #TDContest and tag @OrthoCarolina in your post.

4. Post before the contest ends on Sept 19, 2021 to be entered to win four tickets to a home Panthers game this season. Winners will be notified via the channel they posted on by Sept. 24.

Here’s where you can find all of the Clean Graffiti locations for the #TDContest.

Read the official rules & regulations here.

We love working with the team at OrthoCarolina. Yes, they are incredibly talented surgeons and leaders in Orthopedic Medicine, but we also know them as true partners. Whether we are pitching them a far-out idea or they bring us into the conversation because they know we are “out-of-the-box,” the OC team is always ready to push the line, ready to elevate their marketing voice and show other companies how to create brand recognition and loyalty. We value their trust in us, their community leadership efforts and overall ability to have fun with their marketing campaigns. Like this Touchdown Dance Contest with an NFL team – fun, different and eco-friendly!

Now go find a spot and do your best #TDContest dance!!

Clean Graffiti promoting the #TDContest through September 19 for a chance to win Panthers tickets
Clean Graffiti imaged created on the sidewalk using high pressure water and a specialized stencil