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Spray Paint Artist Finds Community at Ferndale's Rust Belt Market

A closer look at one of the vendors you'll find this weekend at the Rust Belt Market.

The Rust Belt Market in Ferndale offers a unique experience for patrons as well as vendors. Each week, Patch will feature one artist to get a closer look at what they do.

Jerry Shirts

Today, meet spray paint artist Jerry Shirts. Originally from Port Huron and currently living in Harrison Township, Shirts spray paints on "anything that will stick" including canvases, liquor bottles, records, ceramic tiles, wood and more.

In addition to the Rust Belt, Shirts' work can also be seen in Ferndale at the library's current book-inspired art exhibition going on now through April 21.

Here's what he had to say in a recent chat with Patch:

How did you get your start?

"I lost my job in 2007 as a supervisor at an automobile supplier plant," Shirts says. Though he had always drawn and sketched, "I never started painting until when I lost my job," he says.

"What's weird is every time I move my style has changed. I've been two years now in same location and it's been all spray paint. Before that it was acrylics and oil. I'm getting ready to move again so we'll see what happens."

What inspires you?

Shirts says he considers himself more of a "pop-art artist" and is inspired by pop culture, movies - "a lot of movies" - books, what he sees around, and "a little bit of everything."

What is it about the Rust Belt that attracted you to it?

"At the time I was doing a lot of outdoor events. I heard about it and I thought that'd be pretty cool to check out. It was kind of like an outdoor event inside. Once I met Chris and Tiffany and everybody they seemed really cool and it's  kind of like a family-oriented deal around there. It's a really nice sense of community inside that place," he said. "Everybody watches out for each other."

Tell us one thing about you or your work that would surprise us.

"I enjoy the smell of spray paint," he says.

You can check out Shirts' work from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Rust Belt Market. For more information, visit www.jerryshirts.com.

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