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It's hip to be old: How to be a graffiti grandma

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We're looking at the OAP amazing, those creative types who live life to the very fullest. First up, it's Internet sensation Baddiewinkle ("Stealing your man since 1928"). She's followed by the likes of Rihanna, vocally supports legalising weed and probably had Instagram before you even had dial-up (or something). This year she reached a real milestone – 1 million followers on Instagram. Grit Creative Group, a Brooklyn agency, used her as the face of a guerrilla marketing campaign where she dressed like Kurt Cobain and Kate Moss and looked awesome.

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Meanwhile, in Lisbon, LATA 65 are bringing together the generations through a graffiti initiative. They paired up 100 seniors with famous street-artists and got them to get their stencil on. They’re tackling ageism, and in the process putting together gangs of ‘graffiti grannies’ to colour in the city. Graffiti is an art form we might usually associate with the youngsters – but anyone can tag. The students range from 74 to 92 years old, and add a touch of gravitas to the occasion. The UK has their own version too – the yarn bombers of Cornwall, who engage with ‘craftivism’ and brighten up their towns with knitted graffiti.

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For photographer Candace Karch, her muse is 97 year-old artist Marie Ulmer. In her photo series Ms. Ulmer, Karch documents Marie's life through humour and poignancy. In one shot, Marie lies back on a knitted blanket, in another she poses next to shark jaws in an exhibition. The sheer vivacity of Marie’s personality shines through, as she messes around and poses even at her most vulnerable.

Karch says: “Marie Ulmer is a 97 year old artist who I began to represent at Bambi Gallery in 2007. We became fast friends and we are still friends. She has made a piece of art everyday for the last ninety years… I have been photographing Marie for over five years. The idea for a book project began two years ago. My goal is to produce a book that will include my photographs of Marie in conjunction with her self-portraits, with one as early as age seven. In the years that I have been photographing her, I have discovered her alter ego, or the personality she never explored, has developed in front of the camera to become my muse”.

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Photo credit: Candace Karch

Even fashion brands are having an OAP moment – with the iconic literary star Joan Didion becoming the face of Celine earlier this year, photographed by the inimitable Juergen Teller. Joan’s collaboration with the fashion house was credited with ‘saving the Internet’, after that dastardly Kim Kardashian tried to break it. There’s been a whole spate of beautiful older women being case, as Lanvin used 82-year-old Jacquie Murdock in a recent campaign…heck, Selfridges even has a Spring marketing campaign called Bright Old Things, inspired by retired creatives from their 40s through to their 80s. So remember, kids – age ain’t nothing but a number. And it’s time to keep creativity alive, whatever your next birthday says.

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