Photographing stickers without losing context

August 8th, 2013 | By | 3 Comments »
GATS in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

GATS in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

The difficulty with photographing sticker art or graffiti stickers is that it’s really difficult to provide context for the sticker without losing all the details that might make it interesting to begin with. This context versus context struggle exists when photographing just about any sort of street art or graffiti, but it’s especially true with stickers. They are usually so small that you have to get inches away for a good photo, but then it’s hardly clear if the sticker is on a busy street or in a leafy suburb, surrounded by other interesting things or the lone bit of culture for an entire block. This is especially important with illegal work like stickers where an artist is taking a risk to put something in a particular location of their choice (okay admittedly stickers are not all that risky). Understanding the context of the piece can really add to my appreciation for it. I don’t know if I’ve the first person or the thousandth to figure this out and I don’t consider myself a serious photographer, but I think I’ve stumbling across an interesting way to take photos of stickers that balances context and content: Panorama mode.

AVOID pi in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

AVOID pi in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

My iPhone has a panorama mode that I don’t think I’d ever used until earlier this summer, when I accidentally realized it could be useful for photographing stickers. I was just fooling around with my iPhone, seeing if the panorama mode could work if you had something up very close and also something far away that both needed to be in focus. So I tested it by photographing a sticker and trying to move from the sticker to some background elements across the street. I saw the resulting image and suddenly I hardly cared about my little experiment. I saw a photograph that captured the details of a sticker while still giving context to its placement, and I fell instantly in love with the technique.

Kosbe in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

Kosbe and more in Brooklyn. Click to view large.

Obviously taking photos with a wide angle lens or in panorama mode is nothing new, but I can’t remember ever having seen it used for this purpose before. If anyone wants to prove me wrong, please leave a comment. I’d love to see what other people have been doing with this technique.

Click to view large

xleos (I’m guessing) in West Philadelphia. Click to view large.

What do you think of this technique? Does it is balance content and context well enough? These are just some early shots by me, and I’m no photographer, so if you think you can take this further and do it better, please do and let me know how it goes. I would love to see others improve upon this. For me, it’s made documenting stickers so much more fun and fulfilling. Anyone can photograph another printed André the Giant sticker, but this technique highlights how context can make even printed stickers unique so long as the placement is interesting.

Shepard Fairey in. Click to view large.

Shepard Fairey in Philadelphia. Click to view large.

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Featured Posts, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Q&A with ChrisRWK

July 10th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

sticker shot

ChrisRWK is an artist whose work I’ve followed pretty much since I got interested in street art. He has a strong cult following of fans who love how his work brings joy, and he’s probably one of the go-to artists that people getting started in stickers look to. Chris is the latest artist in the space across the street from Woodward Gallery and he and Veng recently painted a wall in Little Italy for The L.I.S.A. Project (for which I am a co-curator). And then I read this interview and found out that’s he and Veng are doing a print with 1xRun, whom I’ve worked with as well. Basically. All in all, seemed like a great time to ask Chris a few questions…

RJ: What do you look for when you’re thinking about collaborating with another artist?

Chris: Over the years I’ve learned a lot from Collabing with artists. I remember asking artists if they would like to collab back in the day and people had no clue what I meant. Mainly cause no one was doing it on stickers. I had collabed with artists for years on murals and artists have collabed on canvases for years. Some that always struck a chord with me was the Basquiat, Warhol and Clemente canvases. So I figured bring it to stickers. I had been making stickers for years and they’ve always been a favorite medium of mine. From collecting to making, I always loved em.  So with some artists I know to just do some hand drawn ones but with other artists I do printed ones. Some artists like El Toro, Bob Will Reign, Under Water Pirates I’ve collabed with for years, since around 2004. With guys like them I always love doing hand drawn ones because of the diversity. They would always do something new. Artists like Royce, MCA/Evil Design, Flying Fortress I’ve done both hand drawn and printed. Printed because of the strength and iconographic imagery.

ChrisRWK with Jos-L

ChrisRWK with Jos-L

RJ: Why are stickers an important part of street art and graffiti?

Chris: Stickers have been in graffiti for years but people never paid attention to them.  I remember seeing ones with tags on them in the early 90′s when I’d go into Manhattan. In the late 90′s stickers started gaining popularity overseas from what I saw. In 2001 when kevin and I launched robotswillkill.com, stickers were starting to catch on in the US as its own scene. I remember when PEEL magazine contacted me about doing the cover for their first issue. I was amped, a zine all about stickers?!? And I was doing the cover?!? That was in 2003.  In the past few years the Graff scene has rediscovered stickers and seems like their appreciation has grown for them. For years it was like they looked down on them. The sticker scene itself has grown over the past few years which is good and bad. You have tons of “artists” who just collect them and use the ones they get to trade up. It’s the baseball card theory, well for this generation maybe the Pokemon card theory. Don’t get me wrong – collecting is cool, but to an extent.

ChrisRWK with Skam Dust and MQ

ChrisRWK with Skam Dust and MQ

RJ: About how many stickers do you draw or print each year?

Chris: Print I’d say 15-20 thousand. That’s mainly for trades, giveaways etc. I always liked putting up hand drawns. Printed are great for putting up because of longevity and ability to grill an area but there’s something about finding an original on the street. So hand drawn ones I’d say around 10-15 thousand. It’s tough to say cause I just sit down and throw on a movie and do em until the packs empty or the movie is over. So that could be a hundred or couple hundred in a sitting. Also depends on what style I’m doing. If they are black line ones then those I fly threw. If I’m doing color fills, shading etc it’ll be less.

Study of False Hope

Study of False Hope

RJ: A lot of your recent paintings feature your trademark characters less prominently than your work has previously. Where are they going? Where are you going?

Chris: Well I’ve always had an array of characters but the Robot always caught everyone’s attention. He became the icon for the stickers, clothes etc. I did him on paintings for years also. The boy and girl characters have gained more recognition in the past few years. Between the murals and canvases I can have them convey more emotion or tell more if a narrative. It’s funny because for years when I’d paint something everyone would say, “Are you doing the robot? I hope you do the robot!” So I did the robot. Nowadays people don’t say that because they’ve become familiar with the rest of my work. Granted when I sign black books, do stickers etc I do the robot.  The newer work has subconsciously become more autobiographical. When I was talking to a friend of mine, he made that remark. So I started to think about it and he’s right on some levels. For example Veng and I did a show at Low Brow Artique called “From the Start: a collection of studies” and when I chose my 5 study subjects, they all had a deep connection to me and my life. So for the newer works, I try to tap into that more.

Mona Lisa by ChrisRWK and Veng

Mona Lisa by ChrisRWK and Veng

RJ: How was it painting your version of the Mona Lisa in Little Italy?

Chris: To be honest, tough at first. When Wayne from The L.I.S.A Project mentioned it I automatically thought ok time to paint a Mona Lisa. For some reason it didn’t dawn on me right away to do it in my style. I just figured paint Mona Lisa. So after a few sketches I did my style. Wayne showed it to the owners and they loved it. I showed it to Veng and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. This was the perfect project for him to bring back his circles.  We put together the sketch fully and it was def meant for the spot. The L.I.S.A Project has a great thing going. It’s funny too because my best friends Godfather ran the restaurant where we painted for years.

ChrisRWK with Veng

ChrisRWK and Veng

RJ: You’re pretty popular on Instagram. What do you think Instagram has done for street art or stickering?

Chris: Things like Instagram have definitely brought more attention to things like street art and stickers. It’s quick and has its own scene. Once you mix things that have their own subculture it’ll only help promote each other. Blogs and stuff helped promote street art for years but were mainly constrained to desktop computers etc so with something like Instagram you have it right on your phone at any moment of the day. People love instant gratification. And to be able to post something from anywhere in the world for anyone in the world to see is amazing.

RJ: Have you got any upcoming projects that you can let us in on?

Chris: I just finished up 4 panels for the Woodward Project space across from the gallery. It’s titled “Those Summer Daze”. Veng and I have a print coming out with 1xRun soon. I’m involved in Sticky Situation NYC by Ink Monstr. I’m working on inventory pieces for Dorian Grey gallery. I’ll be painting at Jersey Fresh Jam. I also have a two man show coming up at Mighty Tanaka with Michael Banks(Sugar Fueled) this October. Oh and also finishing up issue #3 of Surface Area zine. Of course there’ll be some other outdoor art going on.

Those Summer Daze at Woodward Gallery

Those Summer Daze across from Woodward Gallery

Photos by ChrisRWK


Category: Interview | Tags: , , , ,

A Little Italy Christmas special (with special appearance by The Grinch)

December 20th, 2012 | By | No Comments »
Nosego at work

Nosego at work. Photo by RJ Rushmore

This past Saturday, I was in New York’s Little Italy helping to facilitate some more walls there. Thanks to Little Italy, Sambuca’s Cafe, Umberto’s Clam House, The Low Brow Artique and Montana Cans, we brought Chris and Veng of Robots Will Kill and Nosego to Little Italy for two new pieces of Christmas-themed art. It was a great day, and everyone had a lot of fun painting and chatting with all the people who stopped by to see what was going on.

Even Santa stopped by to help out

Even Santa stopped by to help out. Photo by Wayne Rada.

Chris and Veng painted a spot just next to Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry Street between Grand and Hester. I love the detail on Chris’ character’s sweater of a Robots Will Kill logo made partially from candy canes.

8290127664_8c64e57fab_z

Veng and Chris

Unfortunately, this photo is about all that’s left of Nosego’s piece, painted on Mulberry Street between Hester and Canal. A vigilante Grinch must have not wanted us to be spreading Christmas cheer, because the piece was painted over in a really poor buff job on Monday night. Such a shame, given how many people seemed to be loving the piece on Saturday evening. Nosego, Little Italy, and Vandalog wanted to get people smiling and excited for Christmas, but somebody wasn’t smiling. But hey, art outdoors is always temporary. Sometimes this sort of thing happens. Of course, we didn’t plan for the piece to be up forever anyway. Christmas in July is for retailers, not murals. I just feel bad that I dragged Nosego up from Philly for the day, and that so many people are going to miss out on a seeing a great mural.

Nosego. Photo by Ruddy Was Here.

Nosego. Why would anyone buff this? Photo by Ruddy Was Here.

Photos by RJ Rushmore, Wayne Rada and Ruddy Was Here


Category: Featured Posts, Photos | Tags: , ,

Chris and Veng (RWK) busy in Bushwick

August 20th, 2012 | By | No Comments »

The walls outside Bushwick’s new Low Brow Artique have evolved into first-rate open-air gallery.  Now alongside the mural fashioned by the Yok and Sheryo, is an exquisitely intriguing piece crafted this weekend by Chris and Veng of Robots Will Kill. Here are some earlier images:

Chris at work on his iconic character

Veng begins painting his wondrous chameleon

Veng adds finishing touches

Photos by Tara Murray


Category: Photos | Tags: , ,

ND’A, OverUnder, Chris and Veng, RWK Busy off the Bowery

May 27th, 2012 | By | No Comments »

OverUnder at work

Earlier today — on this Memorial Day weekend – some of our favorite artists were busy over on East 4th Street off the Bowery. Tara Murray, a former student — who has become as addicted to street art as I am — caught up with them as they were finishing. Here are a few images from this latest MaNY Project with FABnyc under the direction of the indefatigable Keith Schweitzer:

OverUnder close-up

ND'A at work

Chris & Veng RWK

Photos by Tara Murray


Category: Photos | Tags: , , , ,

Rather Unique

January 2nd, 2012 | By | No Comments »

For Woodward Gallery‘s first show of 2012, they’ve brought in Royce Bannon as their first guest curator. His show, Rather Unique, will bring together a group of artists including Cassius Fowler, Celso, Chris RWK, Darkcloud, Veng, Infinity and NoseGo. Rather Unique opens on January 7th from 6-8pm and runs through February 19th.


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

November 27th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

A wall in Munich

Sorry this is coming a day late, but Thanksgiving and related activities took priority. Here’s what I missed posting about this week:

Photo by Luna Park


Category: Art News, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Products, Random, Toys, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Veng, OverUnder, Chris, Peeta and Never

April 18th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

Veng, OverUnder and Chris

This mural in NYC is a collaboration between Veng, OverUnder, Chris, Peeta and Never. First half is above. Second half is below.

Peeta, Chris and Never

Photos by Luna Park


Category: Photos | Tags: , , , ,

Robots Will Kill Philadelphia

March 24th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

ChrisRWK

The Robots Will Kill crew has a show in Philadelphia opening on April 1st. Never Say Die, a 10th anniversary show for the crew, will be at Vincent Michael Gallery. ChrisRWK, KevRWK, veng, ecb, peeta, JesseRobot and Flying Fortress will all be in the show.

Veng

I will definitely be at the opening of Never Say Die. Here’s a flyer:

Photos courtesy of veng


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , , , ,

Death Warmed Over

June 24th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

Chris RWK

Five staples of New York street art (Veng RWK, Chris RWK, Cake, Luna Park and Becki Fuller) have gotten together for their show Death Warmed Over, which opens Friday evening at Fresthetic in Brooklyn. Veng, Chris and Cake will be showing their paintings, while Luna Park and Becki Fuller will have prints of their photos. Naturally, the show’s theme is death. If you’re thinking of checking out this show, best to go down on Friday (7-10pm). Although Death Warmed Over will be on until July 20th, the opening events will include live painting and a DJ set by Royce Bannon. Check out The Street Spot for more info.

Photo by Chris RWK


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , , , ,