Parasites and magnets: a story about street art and photography

July 27th, 2013 | By | 6 Comments »

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I am bored. In fact, I am not that bored, I am more disillusioned. But why?

Firstly I am slightly fed up of seeing a lack of creativity in much of the street art I am currently viewing in London, hence these photos of interesting pieces by Monkey and the ATG Crew in Hvar, Croatia I snapped whilst on holiday a couple of months ago. It may just be that I am looking in the wrong places, and don’t get me wrong, there are a huge amount of artists living and working in London that I admire, but it seems I keep seeing the same dull work from many others.

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But that is not quite why I am writing. It is a second point that has caused me to become even more disillusioned. Money makes the world go around and money always seeps into everything eventually, street art included. This is not necessarily a bad thing, artists need money to keep doing what they are doing in addition to feeding and clothing themselves, but at the same time money brings parasites.

These parasites, as I like to call them, come in various forms and varieties. You have flippers, forgers, and reclaimers, who just steal street art off the street to sell. Then there are others, such as agents, who I will never understand really. An agent, really?

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But there seems to be a final parasite that is increasing in numbers, and that’s the photographer. Actually photographer is a bad term to use, but they call themselves that so, so be it. A photographer to me is someone that is creative, an artist with a camera. Someone who sees a shot, frames it, and shoots it. Taking light, composition, angle and various other important aspects into account. A good photographer (at this point note Mark Rigney, Sandra Butterfly, NoLionsinEngland, RomanyWG, HowAboutNo, Martha Cooper, Ian Cox et al), makes an image come to life in a photo. They add something to a picture.

I see photographers as important for a couple of reasons, firstly as I have previously alluded to, they are artists in their own right and I am all for creative people who have something interesting to exhibit. But secondly, and more importantly to an extent, is their ability to document. Martha Cooper is the prime example and others have followed suit. My pictures in this post are a documentation of street art in Croatia and this blog is a documentation of street art from around the world. In essence it becomes a window to history and that’s why I have a penchant for photography.

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Yet over the last two weeks in particular, and over the last few weeks, months and years in general, I have become disillusioned. In no small part because of the increasing numbers of people printing Banksy images onto canvas and selling them at every market in London, but more recently by photographers tapping into the same practice.

Over the last two weekends I have attended two outdoor art events. One in Brixton, and one near Old Street. Both these events have included some fantastic, talented artists, and in particular, Brixton had a few great photographers who’s work I really admired. But both have also had those types of photographers who steal others’ creativity.

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Poor photos are one thing, but couple that with a market stall, price labels, and in one case fridge magnets and Oyster card holders and you have a recipe for disaster. Gone is the creativity and the innovation of a good photographer or even if the documentation that the mediocre photographer can provide. All you are left with is poor photos, bad cropping and product.

There has been a recent breakthrough on this subject with regard to Wooster Collective working their magic to ensure than Art.com offers commission to artists and show artists the photos they are hoping to use before they start selling them. This really is a massive step in ensuring that companies who deal in wall art act in a moral manner, but as RJ mentioned in his post on the subject, this is far from a complete problem solver.

In one of the cases I came across, I asked if the photographer had got permission from the artists. He said yes of course, the majority had agreed and that they are extremely grateful for their work getting promoted.

I would have loved to have been there when the guy asked Banksy, Eine, Phlegm, Mr. Brainwash, Os Gemeos and others if he could use their images to make money for himself. I hardly believe they are happy that others are making financial gains without paying any dues, in this case commission.

At a time when there are so many good artists releasing high quality affordable screen prints and even originals, it annoys me that some members of the general public are paying out sums of money for awful images. The stall at the street party near Old Street always had a large crowd around it with people paying good money for pictures they could have taken themselves and printed at home.

The moral of this story is that if you are reading this thinking about lining the pockets of one of these so called photographers, then I urge you to invest that money in your own camera, get outside and take some photos yourself. And if you need a bit of training then get yourself along to one of NoLions photography workshops if he organises a few more soon, fingers crossed he does, as they were very well received. Be creative, don’t let others steal what in essence is meant to be free art for all to enjoy.

This problem is not going to disappear completely, but you can all do your bit by not handing your money over to these parasitic photographers, and don’t let your mates do it either. In fact, I believe this is where street art tours come into their own as they get the general public into places where they can take their own documentary images. It is summer, so get yourself outside, walk around, see what turns your head, and just be creative.

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Photos all by Shower. Not purchased in any way. Taken himself whilst on holiday in Hvar, Croatia. And they will not be printed onto magnets any time soon!


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Jester Jacques Gallery pop up print sale in Shoreditch

January 17th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »
Sweet Toof

Sweet Toof

Starting Feb. 7th at 6pm, Jester Jacques Gallery will be hosting a pop up sale in Boxpark Shoreditch. The lineup, including Philip HarrisMighty MoMister MillerchipShepard FaireySweet ToofJon BurgermanAdorJimmy CMarcus PetterssonRosemary Cronin and others were, as Jester Jacques puts it, “chosen for their investment potential and contemporary relevance” to the street art scene. The featured prints look great, but what does that matter if they’re intended to be bought as street art stock? And if you are trying to buy some street art stock, you’re probably a couple of years too late.

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey

Jon Burgerman

Jon Burgerman

Photos courtesy of Jester Jacques


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

Christmas group shows that aren’t at POW

December 14th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

Sweet Toof and Mighty Mo. Photo by Alex Ellison

This week seems to be the week of pre-Christmas art sales in the UK, or at least attempts at pre-Christmas art sales. In London, there’s the Taking Liberty’s pop-up shop open now through the 21st with a great group of political charged artists and 10% of sales going to Reel News as well as Season Ticket an “underground art fair” in Shoreditch from High Roller Society and Alex Daw opening on Thursday. Over in Newcastle, Unit 44 have a big party planned to celebrate their 1-year anniversary, also on Thursday, with new work from artists including SheOne, Hush and Stormie Mills. With Pictures On Walls‘ annual Christmas show being cool (keep an eye on their homepage for print releases this week) but allegedly nothing like the “good old days” of their Santa’s Ghetto events (not that I would know, as I wasn’t there then and I’m not in London now), it seems that a few groups may be trying to rekindle those once warm and fuzzy feelings of Christmas cheer around street art, or they know that people like getting art for Christmas.

Here are fliers for all these show… Personally, I’m most excited about Season Ticket…

Photo by Alex Ellison


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Some rollers

November 2nd, 2011 | By | No Comments »

Photo by Luna Park

I’ve recently been spending a lot of my recent free time with a paint roller getting the inside of a building to look very white, so to counterbalance that, I’ve been seeking out some more disruptive uses of paint rollers. Here are a few recent pieces that I came across.

Mighty Mo, Sweet Toof and Nemo. Photo by Alex Ellison

Roller and photo by mobstr

You Go Girl! Photo by Damonabnormal

Horror and Rowdy rollers. Rocks by Rowdy. Photo by Becki Fuller

Photos by Luna Park, Alex Ellison, mobstr, Damonabnormal and Becki Fuller


Category: Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Spotlight on Mighty Mo at Tony’s Gallery

July 13th, 2011 | By | 1 Comment »

Photo by S.Butterfly

Burning Candy have a show, A Fist Full of Paint, on right now at Tony’s Gallery in London. There’s work by Rowdy, LL Brainwashed, Sweet Toof, Dscreet and Mighty Mo. For the most part, it’s the sort of show you’d expect from Burning Candy. I’m a fan of the crew, so I enjoyed it. But most of the work wasn’t going to convert any new fans. The possible exception to that are the pieces by Mighty Mo. He has continued to develop his style of making realistic models of his outdoor work. These pieces were what everyone at the show was talking about, and they were as fun as ever. In fact, I think Mighty Mo is getting even better.

Photo by S.Butterfly

While Steph can go on about Morley all day long, Mighty Mo an artist who is actually finding an interesting way to transition from the street to the gallery. Like pieces by Invader, many of Mo’s sculptures depict actual street pieces, so the work acts as a sort of nostalgia trigger and documentation/preservation of outdoor pieces. At the same time, there’s a high level of craftsmanship.

Photo by S.Butterfly

And Mighty Mo can paint well on more traditional canvas as well. Check out this collaboration with Rowdy. It’s a knock-out… (yep, had to say it)

Mighty Mo and Rowdy. Photo by Alex Ellison

S.Butterfly has more photos from the show on her flickr, and if you’re curious about all the paint splatter on the walls of the gallery, watch this video.

Photos by S.Butterfly and Alex Ellison


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

In conversation with Billy

June 24th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

Smile. Photo by HookedBlog.

For the last 6 months, alongside partner in crime Malarky, Billy has been producing some of my favourite street art in London (and Madrid). I was lucky enough to catch up with her literally two hours before the duo’s show, Summer Breeze, opened at High Roller Society. Despite her distinct lack of sleep, Billy remained her bubbly self and her passion for giraffes, bright colours, and warm weather quickly became apparent…

“I just like painting stuff and making things look colourful. It livens up the street. And being able to paint your artwork in a large scale is great; I get a real buzz out of that. But I want to ensure that I don’t come across like a badass writer because I’m not, I just like adding colour to dull streets and making my work available to all.”

Malarky x Billy - Wiped Out. Photo by Billy.

But when questioned about street art, Billy was reluctant to be labelled a ‘street artist’ due to her background, and believes the label can often be misinterpreted.

“I have an illustration background, I studied graphic design. But I have been doing a lot of artwork on the streets recently, so I suppose if that defines a street artist then I am, but I don’t come from a graffiti based background and didn’t start with traditional illegal tagging. All the work I’ve produced on the street is legal. I just like making my artwork visible to lots of people, in a space that is so accessible. But then again a lot of people prefer to do it illegally for that adrenaline rush.

Plus I think the term street art can be massively misinterpreted by some people. People say the words ‘street art’ and automatically presume you come from a graffiti background but that’s not true. You don’t need to come from that kind of background to be a street artist. Anyone can be one and do something smart on the street.

In fact, me and Malarky have done a couple of pieces for the show, doing a bit of a piss take, mainly out of ourselves but also the scene. One piece is called “Street Life” which came about when we were just listening to some hip hop and taking the piss, saying “Oh we’re so street!””

Make Me Wanna Holler. Photo by HookedBlog.

Billy, certainly raised an interesting subject with regard to the necessary qualities you need possess to be considered a ‘street artist’. Having recently read the book Abstract Graffiti by Cedar Lewisohn, I took a quote that stood out to me – “Some artists now seem to be more interested in such things as craftsmanship and drawing… It’s almost a shift from graphic art to fine art on the street” – and asked if she agreed.

“Oh yeah, I definitely think some artists are. But due to background, for me it’s just about drawing, always. That’s how I’ve developed my style; I’ve just always been really into drawing. And then just being able to take and make it big is the way I’ve come across street art.

I think there are definitely shifts and trends, and things coming out of fashion, or maybe just people jumping on bandwagons. Or they are more interested in just developing their style and technique.

And of course, there is nothing wrong with being influenced by other people and what they’re doing, when you see someone doing something really cool. Like in Madrid, 3TT Man was plastering concrete onto walls and engraving into them. And that’s just a sick idea. Obviously if you went and did that you would be biting his idea but there is nothing wrong with drawing on his, and other people’s ideas, and doing things in your own way.”

Billy, Malarky and Mr Penfold hit Madrid. Photo by Billy.

Much of Billy’s street work has been completed in collaboration with other artists; Mr Penfold, Sweet Toof, Mighty Mo, 45RPM, Richt, and of course Malarky. Having asked a bit about their working relationships and how they prepare for a colab piece, I found out it often comes down to alcohol intake…

“It’s all about our mutual love of just going out and painting, our work ties in really well together and people just get good vibes off it. Working with people like Sweet Toof and Monkey has been wicked, you learn new things, it’s got me more exposure and this show has actually come off the back of contacts through them. It’s just nice to vary it up and when you work with them it kind of opens your eyes to how other people paint.

The work we produce, kind of depends on what we’re doing and how many beers we have drunk. Sometimes we sit down and do a little sketch. I think we always have some kind of idea but it does sometimes get a bit silly and it ends up changing into someone else. When we collaborate with other people we always know what each other draws, like Mr Penfold and his characters with their weird noses, it kinds of just works. I’ve never been like “This is your part of the wall, this is mine”, its quite fluid, we mix it up a bit. And I’m learning about working with people all the time.”

Billy, Malarky and Monkey in Brixton. Photo by Billy.

Billy in Berlin. Photo by Billy.

As the conversation progresses, Billy explains that she has been lucky with regard to the increasing levels of buffing in London prior to the Olympics. In her words it’s been “so good, so far” and she hasn’t had any of her pieces removed. Although she admits it’s certainly going to happen one day and so taking photos and documenting her work is important.

Much of this street work has been in the form of shutters and vans, I asked about her choice of surface, which she prefers, and asked who chooses the brilliantly bright colours they use.

“I think the response we have been getting from doing shutters has been quite funny because it’s so easy; all you need to do is go into the shop and say “Can we paint your shutters?” And there are so many to paint, tonnes and tonnes in London. In certain areas every single shop has shutters. They are just easy to paint and walls and roof tops are harder to come by, it’s hard to get permission.

Malarky got into vans in Barcelona because you can’t paint shutters there anymore legally. Even if the shop lets you, there has been a law passed where the council no longer allows it. And there are tonnes of trucks there, they all park up on the side of the road and they are usually covered in tags already. It’s much harder to find a truck here that you can paint. I’ve only painted a couple but the wicked thing is about painting them is that they move around the city during the day.

The thing about shutters is they are wicked too but people don’t really see them unless its night time or Sunday. And a lot of the ones we do paint open to silly o’clock too, off licences and stuff, and so people don’t really see them. We have got lots of exposure but if they were down all the time more people could see our work.

In terms of the surface, painting a truck is just so much better. It’s so much flatter. When I first started painting a really appreciated the shutters because I could be really loose with my style. I’m really getting into doing shapes and stuff but it’s hard to get a really crisp line on a corrugated shutter. When you use a shutter it’s a bit more about doing pieces with a bit more impact with bold outlines.

Originally the colours I use come from when Malarky and I went to paint together. We used to go buy paint together and use the same colours. And then we based it on the Posca Paint Pallet. All 94 colours are quite bright and nice to work with. From there it kind of just developed where we would just get the same sort of colours each time. But I quite like mixing it up a bit – the work I’ve got in the show is toned down a bit, still bright, but not quite as in your face.”

Reach for the Sky. Photo by HookedBlog.

Having popped into the gallery prior to the conversation and seen how the duo’s street work had progressed when moved inside, I was eager to ask Billy about what influences her style. And before she had to return to finish hanging her work I managed to quickly ask a bit about the show and to why it’s called Summer Breeze.

“A lot of my work is influenced from South Africa, where I used to live when I was younger, and consequently I’m really inspired by tribal and caveman paintings. I’ve got some really good African books about old artists and sand paintings that I enjoy.

But then also it’s influenced by other places I’ve visited, other art, and just all sorts of things really – song lyrics, animals, anything. To be honest this necklace I’m wearing is a massive influence. It’s got all sorts of animals in it, especially giraffes. And then there are the patterns and the animal prints, they inspire me too, and drop shadows, they are cool.

The show has sort of evolved from the time I met Malarky. When we first met it was really cold and snowing, but as we have painted more and more shutters the weather has been getting better. We even went to Madrid where it was really sunny, and here it’s just been getting progressively nicer since we met.

When you paint outside and its freezing cold that’s probably the worst situation to paint in, it’s so horrible. Your hands freeze around the can. It’s kind of just a progression into the summer. And then it also relates to the song ‘Summer Breeze’ by Seals and Crofts which I think was later covered by the Isley Brothers. It’s really just about those things and our artistic styles.”

Summer Breeze. Photo by HookedBlog.

Summer Breeze continues at High Roller Society until 3rd July, if you like Billy and Malarky’s street work then I urge you to check it out!

And if you like cakes get following Billy’s sister, Rosie. Forget Delia Smith, Jamie Oliver, and Gordon Ramsey, this girl can cook! Her little cherryade, coke and lemonade cakes went down a treat with everyone who attended the opening night. I was a sucker for the cherry ones… amazing.

Photos by Billy and HookedBlog


Category: Featured Posts, Interview | Tags: , , , , , , ,

From UK to HK and back again

May 21st, 2011 | By | 4 Comments »

So I’m back from Hong Kong nursing about 130 mosquito bites, but luckily a lack of sunburn – there are some upsides! In between the usual tourist based things I managed to wander the streets in and around Midlevels for an hour or two with the aim of spotting a few pieces of street art. Here are a few of the photos that interested me for one reason or another. Enjoy…

East LDN x HK - Anti-Graffiti Network and Monkey getting up high

Xeme! and the Toasters risking it outside the American Embassy and Central Government Offices

D*Face outside Schoeni Gallery - It's amazing how long this piece has lasted untouched

D*Face D*Dog - picture taken in 2009

Lovely grimey Pez

Beautifully aged paste up by Orsek

You have been invaded. Artist unknown.

King Kong in Hong Kong? By Meggs

One of many paste ups by Michael De Feo

One thing I love about street art is the interaction between an artist and the environment, re-thinking spaces and re-appropriating objects, to produce art in its rawest form. In 2009 I spotted these two fire hydrants, unfortunately they had both been buffed with a new coat of paint when I re-visited them but they were my favourite pieces in Hong Kong and were too good to leave out of this post.

"I only have eyes for you" - Outside Man Mo Temple

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" - On the top of The Peak

Photos by Shower


Category: Photos | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

January 22nd, 2011 | By | 2 Comments »

Elfo's road sign for an underground robber

Getting back in the swing of things at school this week. Fair warning, today is the first meeting of a class I’m taking about conceptual art. I’m excited and the professor seems awesome, but just fair warning: That class could bleed over into the rest of my life and lead to an increase in bullshitting from me here on Vandalog. Unfortunately, I haven’t sorted out a proper internet connection yet since getting back to school, so I’ve been a bit lax this week. Here’s what’s been going on:

  • This isn’t street art or urban art or low brow or anything really related to Vandalog, but one of my favorite artists, Hiroyuki Doi, has a show on in New York right now. Definitely check it out.
  • Kid Acne has a new zine out.
  • This collaboration between Malarky, Billy and Mighty Mo is great.
  • At first I hated this sculpture from Jeremy Fish, but now I’m thinking I’d love to walk by it every day.
  • Last week I asked about graffiti photographers in Philadelphia, and Fat Cap has found a great one.
  • I think some of these pieces from Phil Jones are old, some just remind me of Asbestos’ Lost series and some are pretty meh, but damn overall Jones is kicking ass with some fun street art.
  • Felice Varini makes me smile.
  • Exit Through The Gift Shop was nominated for a BAFTA and won an award for documentaries. In other Banksy news, someone is trying to sell 5 Banksy works on paper, basically preparatory works, for £125,000.
  • This “news” article reads like a press release for Bonhams, but there is one surprising bit of information in there: Apparently the Shepard Fairey Peace Goddess, which sold earlier this month at Bonhams for £27,600, is the highest price ever paid for a Shepard Fairey work at auction. I would have thought he’d reached a higher number by now, but I guess most of the work that goes to auction tends to be prints and HPMs, not the large collages or retired stencils that might have otherwise already reached that number. UPDATE: Of course, the article is wrong. That isn’t the highest price paid for a Shepard Fairey work at auction. Not sure if this price is the highest, but it’s much higher than the Bonhams result. So I guess that article is just a giant press release. Sorry.
  • And because that last thing was all about money, here’s a relevant old piece from Twist/Barry McGee.
  • Jose Parla has been busy in Toronto (Thanks to Simon for the tip).

Photo by Elfo


Category: Art News, Auctions, Books / Magazines, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

September 24th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

Elfo

So, I like to procrastinate. This week, I didn’t get to post everything I wanted to here because I was catching up on homework. I spent 12 hours on trains and buses last weekend, and didn’t get a single piece of homework done. Because of that, I haven’t been able to write about everything awesome in street art this week, but other people did:

  • Unurth had some fantastic posts this week: It looks like Swoon was in New Orleans, and Zilda has put up some beautiful wheatpastes in Brittany.
  • Also from Swoon, here’s some photos of work by her and C215 in Venice.
  • Similarly, Target posted some photos this week that you have to check out: Bruno Santinho’s placement is spot-on, and of course there’s Vhils’ wall for Nuart.
  • The Ma’Claim crew (Rusk, Tasso, Case and Akut) are in LA right now painting. Haven’t seen any pictures yet though. And if you’re in LA, they’ve be doing some live painting followed by a talk on Saturday. Sour Harvest has the details on all that.
  • Dran, Bom.K and Sowat have been up to some craziness in Spain.
  • Steph mentioned that Ron English has a massive show on in NYC right now called Status Factory, but I just want to remind everyone to check out the sculptures from that show. For me, some of the most interesting work Ron has done indoors. And to check out the entire show, of course Arrested Motion has the photos you want.
  • Jenny Holzer (one of the original street artists from way before I was born) has made some sneakers with Keds to support The Whitney. They’re out of a lot of sizes on the Keds website, but Bloomingdales.com seems to have a slightly better selection. Still, both sites are out of low-top black ones in my size, so if anybody has that in a 9, let me know.
  • Ross Morrison has been posting some stunning portraits of urban and street artists.
  • Sickboy and Shepard both have some new books (actually Shepard’s is an updated version of his recent Arktip magazine). Shepard’s looks nice and I like Sickboy, but I’m not sure I need a whole book from him just yet.
  • Quel Beast has his first solo show coming up on October 9th. Andrew Michael Ford is putting the show on at King’s Country Bar in Brooklyn. Should definitely be worth checking out. It’s always interesting to see how street artists bring their work indoors for the first time.
  • Nolionsinengland has photographed two awesome rollers: Mighty Mo & Gold Peg right next to Village Underground and Type with a sort of ESPO tribute roller I guess.

Photo by Elfo


Category: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Burning Candy updates

May 24th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

Tek33, Gold Peg and Sweet Toof. Photo by Tek33

There are a few little bits to mention today about my friends in Burning Candy. The crew have been keeping pretty busy lately.

  1. The above wall (thanks to Tek33 for putting me up) is the latest in at least 3 large walls painted in London by members of BC in the last month or so. Nolionsinengland has photographed the other two.
  2. Important note: I worked at High Roller Society for one day last week, but it’s not a regular job or something I expect to repeat since I’m moving soon. The crew’s Candy Shop show at High Roller Society kicks ass. It’s a small space, but Burning Candy have really made full use of the gallery. The installation is really fun to explore. There are so many little bits that it’s unlikely anybody noticed every minor detail that the crew had put into the assemblage of paintings, stickers, sculptures, drawings and found objects. There are photos on High Roller Society’s flickr, but I think that this weekend was the show’s last and it is now closed. But double check with HRS I guess, because I could be wrong.
  3. The crew is traveling. Sweet Toof is painting in New York City and a standard Mighty Mo/Sweet Toof has appeared in Amsterdam.
  4. Sweet Toof’s got an interview in this week’s le cool.


Category: Art News, Gallery/Museum Shows, Interview, Photos | Tags: , , , , , ,