New Relic Turns to Graffiti for Creative Team Building

Despite what it may seem like sometimes, up-and-coming software companies haven’t cornered the market on creativity. In fact, creativity often springs from the most unusual places. So when the marketing team here at New Relic went looking for a team-building, creativity-sparking exercise, we ended up a bit outside the standard software startup world.

Specifically, we ended up at 1:am SF, an art gallery, spray paint store, and education center named after the 1st Amendment and devoted to freedom of speech through street art exhibitions, tours, and classes.


In our half-day team-building workshop, we took a tour of graffiti and street art in one San Francisco neighborhood, and learned the difference between the two, along with related “street terms” like bomb, buff, burn, and wildstyle. After a crash course in graffiti history and styles dating back to New York City in the 1970s, we broke out the markers and spray cans for a chance to try making our own tags and pieces, with hands-on help from 1:am’s expert staff, who’ve been running these workshops since 2008 (check out this Wired article from 2011).

We hit up small canvases with all our tags, made custom-stenciled t-shirts, and practiced our can-control skills on giant sheets of plastic. But the highlight of the session brought the whole team together with the 1:am artists to create four giant panels of graffiti art spelling out classic New Relic tag lines Data Nerd and Nerd Life.


“We picked 1:am based on the hundreds of glowing reviews they got from friends and others tech companies,” explained Erica Forte, our director of creative services. “We wanted an immersive, hands-on activity that fostered team bonding while enabling us to get really creative. There’s nothing more viral than graffiti, so what better art form for a super fun and interactive group activity?”

Team member reviews glowed almost as bright as the paint colors we used. The only remaining question is where to install those awesome graffiti panels we’re all so proud of creating?


Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite,, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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