Believe The Hype

When it comes to graffiti, it’s all about getting up. The writing is on the wall, as the saying goes. But what about that can an artist is using to put their name up there? Spray paint has come a long way since the days of Krylon and Rusto, with art brands sprouting up all over the world. And Thailand is now among the ranks of countries with homegrown brands thanks to Hype Spray, which launched three years ago and is made in a factory just outside of Bangkok. This month they added an additional 19 colors to their catalog, bringing it to a total of 67 including special metallics and fluorescents.

Hype Spray is the brainchild of Danai Techasompop of Compac Industries, a local family-owned paint company. Growing up, it was always expected that he’d play a role in the business since he’s the eldest son in the family. But first, he decided to launch a passion project in the form of streetwear and sneaker company Carnival alongside two other partners. The seed for Hype was planted eleven years ago when Carnival commissioned the late street artist Mamafaka for a collaboration project. While watching him paint, Techasompop started to wonder why he had to use imported paint for the project and not the Compac brand spray paint, so Mamafaka explained the differences in quality. “He told me that since I already have a factory and know how to make spray paint, why not develop a graffiti line,” Techasompop recalls. “He said artists would like it because there are no Thai brands and the imported brands are too expensive.”

Techasompop never forgot the conversation but didn’t know where to start. “I thought it would be easy since we were already making spray paint—but it was not at all. It’s totally different,” he laughs. After several years of experimenting, they launched the TVB brand, which is available in art stores for hobbyists and toys. He says that it’s very good for use on plastic and foam panels but that it still didn’t meet the standards of graffiti paint: “It was like a trial for the graffiti project.”

They had to test everything in their lab like different formulas, valves, and actuators; and each new feature impacts each previous one. So if the pressure is okay but the paint’s ability to cover a wall is not, after they figure out how to increase the coverage, they’ll need to figure out the pressure formula all over again. Techasompop says they had to learn everything themselves because other brands keep their formulas secret. And since he didn’t paint, it was another learning curve to understand what qualities are needed in graffiti paint. So he solicited a lot of feedback from street artists and writers, tweaking things as they went along.

Luckily, Techasompop’s family at Compac—where he’s export and marketing director—was supportive. “We started in the lab so we didn’t have to invest anything,” Techasompop says. “After I got to know the artists and we saw the potential to be the first in the market here, it just made sense to do it.” Compac was started by his father 30 years ago, who previously had worked at TOA Paint before branching out and launching his own company. They originally started with interior house paints and launched their first spray paint line quickly after.

Techasompop finally landed on what he considered the perfect formula and debuted Hype Spray in October 2019 with over 40 colors. “After it launched we got a lot of feedback and realized there were still some problems,” he says. “But we fixed them and everything is still based on that original formula.”

In the factory, they start by mixing the powdered ingredients with solvents to give it liquid form and then they add a resin to give it adhesive quality, both of which are mixed in giant vats. Then they add pigments and run it through a machine that breaks it down into smaller particles so it doesn’t clog the can. Afterward, they move it over to a station where the paint is pumped into a machine that pours it into the final cans, adds the gas, and stamp the valves onto them. Then the caps and tops are pieced together and it’s all boxed and packaged, ready for bombing.

Hype is available mainly in Bangkok but also in some other provinces and even in parts of Myanmar and Cambodia. It’s mainly sold through artists who act as distributors but can also be copped at Khaosan Graffiti Shop and Suksapanpanit stationary stores. Techasompop sets the price that distributors can sell it for between 120-130 baht to keep it affordable, and he sees the price point as an advantage for the brand. “It was my goal with Hype to help artists because it’s not so expensive as imported brands,” he says. “It’s quite difficult for beginners to learn since imported paint is so expensive but local brands are not very high quality. This lowers the cost for Thai artists in general. “