Learn Math With Graffiti

Scape Martinez breaks down how to scale and plan art supplies in PBS LearningMedia videos.

The Center for Asian American Media recently completed 20 videos on middle school math for PBS LearningMedia. The videos all align with the Common Core Standards, are meant for teachers to use in their classrooms, and feature diverse voices. One of the people featured in several videos is graffiti and multimedia artist “Edward “Scape” Martinez. Martinez, who goes by his artist name Scape, is also a writer and educator and has been featured on KQED Arts. I chatted with him about how math and art relate to each other.

Momo Chang

Can you tell me how you got involved in the math video project?
I got an email asking if I was interested in participating in this project. And the project basically was, how could we make math cool again? And I found it interesting, I found it challenging, and I thought that it would be good.

Do you feel like that it’s important for middle school students to have videos like this for kids to learn math?
Oh yeah, I believe so. It’s important to have various types of content like this. I think the fact that this is graffiti, urban art-based content, it’s definitely going to bring people to the conversation that may not normally may be even willing to have that conversation. I think that when people think of urban art and graffiti art especially, the last thing they think about is math. I think we’re bringing two camps together.

Do you actually use a lot of math when you do your art pieces?
Actually, yeah. Whether it’s something one does decisively beforehand in the planning process, or while you’re doing it, yeah.

What would you say to young kids who want to get into graffiti art or creative work?
Number one, I would say allow yourself time to grow, allow yourself time to develop. Keep your hands in the sky, stay true to your dreams.

Check out Scape in these PBS LearningMedia math videos:

Graffiti Art: Supplies

Learn how to calculate the area of paintings and shapes as graffiti artist Scape Martinez uses math to plan the supplies required for his artwork in this video from CAAM. In the accompanying classroom activity, students learn how to calculate the area of a large letter to be painted, create their own design, and determine how much spray paint they would need to paint it. To get the most from this lesson, students should know how to find the area of shapes and be able to use a constant of proportionality to find proportional relationships. This resource is part of the Math at the Core: Middle School collection.

Graffiti Art: Scaling

Learn about the mathematics behind the work of a graffiti artist as he describes how scale factor and measurement are an integral part of the mural design process in this video from CAAM. This resource is part of the Math at the Core: Middle School collection.


Where you can see Scape Martinez’s art:


1. Morgan Hill Public Library. Spraypaint and acrylics on canvas-wrapped wood panels. Morgan Hill, CA.


2.Roosevelt Community Center, Digital Mural. Downtown San Jose, CA.


3. Roosevelt Community Center, metal sculpture. Downtown San Jose, CA.


4. The Mural Music and Arts Project, Living Wall. East Palo Alto, CA.


5. Clarion Alley, San Francisco, CA.