BNE lies to his fans, sells a fake collaboration with Banksy

March 25th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

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UPDATE March 29th: BNE has updated his website and posted a statement claiming that Banksy and he had communicated about a shirt release, but that BNE decided to announce the shirt and make it available for sale before getting confirmation from Banksy that the collaboration was on. That logic is about as reasonable as me emailing Banksy and asking him about doing a solo show in my bedroom, and then announcing the show without hearing from Banksy. Because, why wouldn’t Banksy want to do a solo show in a college dorm in suburban Philadelphia?

BNE continues to resist the use of the word “scam” to describe what he did, but he fails to acknowledge the numerous lies that he told over the course of this “product launch,” from saying that he was collaborating with Banksy, to saying that he hadn’t sold people something that he presented as BNE x Banksy t-shirt, to saying that this whole thing was a “social experiment.” BNE doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge that at best he messed up by jumping the gun and then he flat out lied, and at worst he orchestrated a massive scam.

He also claims on his site that nobody who picked up on this story requested a comment from him. That’s not true, which I know because I emailed him and requested an interview. Maybe he missed my email, or maybe he ignored it. I don’t know.

But now BNE is offering refunds for those who request them (although I’m not sure how that will work since his PayPal account is frozen). I hope this time BNE gets my email, since I’ve emailed asking for a refund. I’ll be donating a portion of my refund to Living Walls and Give Directly.

BNE also says that he’s working to start a company that will sell a variety of basic necessities like sustainably made shampoo and t-shirts, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. That sounds like a great idea for a company. If I still trusted BNE, I would probably support that business. But it also sounds like a B-Corp, and there are plenty of B-Corps that I’m willing to put a lot more trust into than whatever BNE comes up with.

Saturday was supposed to be a great day. BNE, a graffiti writer who has been raising money for water-related charities (primarily Charity:Water) through BNE.org since late 2011. Most of the money raised has been through the sale of products like t-shirts, lip balm, original artwork and stickers. Earlier this month, BNE released t-shirts by Invader, Shepard Fairey and Faile, some of the biggest names in street art. Shortly after all of those sold out, BNE announced that “a surprise from Banksy in support of our efforts to end the world water crisis” would be unveiled on BNE.org at noon on March 22nd, and that people who helped spread the word of the announcement beforehand would be entered “to win a collaborative gift from BNE + Banksy.”

Well, that was all a lie. BNE was not working with Banksy, and the t-shirts (which cost $92 including shipping to the USA) that were released at noon on the 22nd on BNE’s website just a few pixels away from a large Banksy logo were not done in collaboration with Banksy at all. It was all a ploy, or as BNE called it “a social experiment,” to raise money for Charity:Water, relying on the idea that people would be more likely to contribute to charity if they get something like a t-shirt in return. People were understandably outraged when they discovered that they had not in fact bought the Banksy t-shirt that they thought they had paid for. There’s a lot more to this story and it’s all a bit crazy, but Animal New York have done some great reporting on it, and I highly encourage you to read their post about what happened.

As a fan of BNE’s charity work, someone who has supported in some small way just about every fundraising campaign BNE has organized and a victim of this trick, I’m pretty upset. I’m all for pranks in art. Hell, I’ve even fallen for some before and the responsible thing to do is laugh at yourself. But this was no prank. This was BNE turning on his supporters. He’s lost my trust, and I won’t be supporting his projects in the future (if he manages to get anything off the ground after this fiasco).

It’s unclear at this point what is going to happen to the money that BNE  got from his con. BNE donated the funds to Charity:Water almost immediately after the 500 t-shirts sold out, but it’s not clear that Charity:Water will be accepting his donation. At the same time, BNE promised Animal that he will be refunding every single buyer whether they specifically request it or not, but BNE’s PayPal account has been frozen.

While everything is in limbo for now, assuming that those of us who bought a shirt get our money back, I hope that a lot of it goes right back to charity. It’s easy to donate directly to Charity:Water, who were not involved in BNE.org and are only the recipients of BNE’s donation, and if you do want some great art in return for helping to fund a water-related charity, try this auction that Juxtapoz is involved with. This might also be a good time to mention the current fundraising campaign for the 2014 Living Walls Conference, which includes a matching grant from Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs so that your donation goes even further.

Again, this whole fiasco is fascinating and ongoing, but if you’re at all interested, you should read Animal’s post about what has happened so far, including exclusive comments from BNE.

Photo illustration by RJ Rushmore, original photo by troykelly


Category: Art News | Tags: , , ,

Viral Art is now available at ViralArt.net

December 16th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

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Two weeks ago, I announced that Viral Art: How the internet has shaped street art and graffiti, my new ebook, was set to launch on December 16th. Excerpts have appeared on Hyperallergic, Complex.com and Brooklyn Street Art, I was interviewed over at Graffuturism and the book even got a shout-out from Shepard Fairey. Well, today’s the day. Viral Art is live and you can read it now at ViralArt.net and download it as a PDF or find it in the iBooks Store now.

I want to thank everyone who has been sharing the news about Viral Art these last two weeks, especially everyone who supported the Thunderclap campaign. Just this afternoon, there have been over 200 posts about Viral Art across Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. So, a big thank you to everyone who participated in that. Promoting this book is an entirely grassroots effort, and I’ll be forever grateful for your help.

In case you didn’t catch that last post or you’ve forgotten, here’s a reminder of what Viral Art is all about…

What is Viral Art?

It’s an ebook that you can read online or download to your computer or ereader. It’s full of text, hyperlinks, photos, animated GIFs and embedded videos.

What is Viral Art about?

Viral Art traces how the histories of street art and graffiti have been shaped by communication technologies, from trading photos by hand to publishing books to sharing videos online. It’s the most comprehensive look to date at how the internet has affected street art and graffiti. Conceptualizing the internet as a public space, I conclude the book by arguing that the future of street art and graffiti may lie in digital interventions rather than physical ones.

Why does Viral Art matter?

If you want to understand street art and graffiti, you have to understand how books, movies, magazines, photographs and the internet have affected artists and fans. Viral Art gets into all of that.

Today we live on our laptops and smartphones, so I argue that the best way for street art and graffiti to stay relevant is for artists to take over the public space of the internet. It’s a claim sure to cause controversy in the street art, graffiti and internet art communities.

Viral Art isn’t just another street art book cheer-leading the movement on. It’s history and theory with a critical stance, and my plea to keep the core values of street art and graffiti alive in a digital world.

What else is inside?

In researching for this project, I interviewed over 50 members of the street art and graffiti communities. In Viral Art, you’ll find brand new interviews, quotes and anecdotes from Banksy, Shepard Fairey, KATSU, Poster Boy, Ron English, Martha Cooper and many more.

Another cool touch is the cover, which you can see at the top of this post. It’s an animated GIF designed by General Howe, featuring artwork by Diego Bergia, General Howe and Jay Edlin, as well as photographs by Martha Cooper and myself.

What does this “book” cost?

Nothing. You can read Viral Art for free at ViralArt.net. There are also PDF and EPUB versions available for download.

How can fans support the book?

This book is the result of two and a half years of mostly-unpaid labor. It’s being self-published. My marketing budget consists of a few bucks for ads on Facebook. Major publishers spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars marketing everything they produce, but this project has no book tour or publicist or anything like that. There’s only your support. If Viral Art sounds interesting, or you read it and you think it is interesting, please tell your friends.

Where can people read Viral Art?

Just go here to read it online, or you can also download it to your computer or ereader.


Category: Books / Magazines, Featured Posts, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

September 7th, 2013 | By | 4 Comments »
Paul Insect and Sweet Toof

Paul Insect and Sweet Toof (and Sope)

For me, school is back in session. Hopefully everyone else out there is still enjoying the tail end of the summer. Here’s some art to keep your weekend interesting:

  • Martha Cooper and I have announced our picks for the MOCAtv Upload More Art challenge. You uploaded your street art videos, and we selected our favorites. I used the opportunity to highlight videos of Enzo & Nio and A.CE. As you can probably guess when you watch me explain my picks, I made those picks during Illegal August, so those sorts of thoughts were on my mind. Martha Cooper also selected two videos to highlight.
  • Just because Colossal Media paints murals based on designs by people like KAWS and Faile doesn’t mean there should be any love for them. They paint advertisements. That is their business. If they paint some murals on the side, that doesn’t excuse billboards invading public space. Unless you think BP sponsoring art exhibits excuses oil spills and pollution…
  • Also what’s up with KAWS’ work being used for a mural (I hesitate to say he did a mural, since it appears all he did was license his imagery)? He’s spent the better part of this site’s existence distancing himself from street art and graffiti and his public art has consisted of sculptures and flyposted advertisements (if you consider that public art).
  • Maybe I’ll be able to ask KAWS about all this myself soon, since presumably he’ll be in Philadelphia for his show at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Arrested Motion has a bit of a preview, but I think the link really worth checking is PAFA’s website (and this archived version of the same page from mid-August) because of this section of the show description which has since been removed: “Placing KAWS’ sculptural works throughout PAFA’s historic galleries will further the ‘graffiti effect,’” and the edit of (emphasis added) “KAWS grew up in Jersey City, where he emerged as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s.” to “KAWS grew up in Jersey City, where he emerged as an artist in the early 1990s.” So that’s interesting.
  • I’ve never been a big fan of Elle’s work, but I do love this ad takeover.
  • And here are more ad takeovers, these from Jordan Seiler.
  • So many nice graffiti pieces on Ekosystem today.
  • I really like this new print from Shepard Fairey.
  • Pablo Delgado tiny pieces alway makes me smile.
  • Speak of small street art, here’s BSA’s take on the subject.
  • FAME Festival is no more, although ad hoc projects will continue to be organized in the town of Grottaglie, Italy by festival organizer Angelo Milano. It’s definitely sad news, but Angelo is always ahead of the times. Maybe this glut of street art festivals is just too much. Maybe it’s time for something different. Let’s hope Angelo figures it out. I can’t wait to see what he tries next.

Photo by Alex Ellison


Category: Art News, Festivals, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Print Release, Random, Vandalog Projects, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shepard Fairey on Snowden and Obama

July 7th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

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Shepard Fairey has expressed his disappointment in Obama before, but maybe never with such strong language as he used on his own blog recently when discussing Edward Snowden’s release of documents relating to PRISM and other NSA domestic spying programs. The posters Fairey designed promoting Obama are some of the most iconic political images in a generation, but now Fairey writes, “The extent of Obama’s spying is unacceptable and I feel sickened and betrayed by someone I dedicated a huge amount of time, energy, and money to support based on the way he presented his views as the antithesis of Bush’s. The charge of Edward Snowden with espionage for exposing the Prism program only dims my view of the Obama administration further.”

In the same blog post, Fairey defends Snowden writing, “I got choked up today thinking of the courage it takes to expose a horrible problem when you know you will be brutalized as a consequence. I see nationalism as falling in line with the govt. agenda regardless of how morally flawed it is, while I see patriotism as doing what pushes the country in a morally superior direction, even if it conflicts with govt. policy. We need more patriots and fewer nationalists.”

There have been a few great parodies of Fairey’s Obama images in light of Snowden’s revelations, and Fairey told the LA Times that he’s happy that people are subverting his work to critique Obama.

You can read Fairey’s full post about Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Prism here and his full comments to the LA Times here.

Photo by Daquella manera


Category: Random | Tags:

Weekend link-o-rama

June 22nd, 2013 | By | No Comments »

It’s that time again. Enjoy the rest of the interwebs…

Photo by Wayne Rada


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Cash, Cans and Candy brings street art to Vienna in a big way

June 11th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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This event sounds amazing. Between the hype in New York, London, Los Angeles and Paris, Vienna has enthusiastically been trying to put itself on the map in the global street art scene. The history of the city is one that has shown support of international street art for years but all that suddenly seems fairly small-scale in comparison to this festival. Cash, Cans & Candy has invited some of the big names of street artists (Shepard Fairey, Faile, Retna, Roa, Robbie Conal, Jaz, Dan Witz, etc) as well as some newer or lesser known talent to paint 800 meters (a half mile) of wall space around Vienna.

Shepard finished his wall at the end of May. Kicking the festival off with Shepard was probably a smart move in setting the tone for the rest of the events. The space he was given to work with definitely suited his style and the image is beautiful but I don’t think he incorporated the existing architecture as much as he could have. You can catch Faile painting their wall on June 20th.

The gallery exhibition of the same name at Galerie Hilger Next looks worth seeing. They’ve posted photos of a number of the exhibited works here.

The festival closes September 13th. To keep up with the ongoing events, including talks, tours, workshops, performances and block parties, check out the Cash, Cans & Candy Facebook page.

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Photos courtesy of Cash, Cans & Candy


Category: Festivals | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Watch: OBEY THE GIANT, first Shepard Fairey biopic, now online

April 15th, 2013 | By | 2 Comments »

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OBEY THE GIANT, the long-awaited short film by Julian Marshall, is now streaming for free online. The film tells the story of Shepard Fairey‘s first billboard takeover, which he did for an assignment while he was at the Rhode Island School of Design. This is not a documentary with grainy footage from 20 years ago. It is a biopic staring Josh Wills as the college-aged Shepard Fairey. Such a cool project. A must-watch for fans (and also probably haters) of Shepard Fairey. I’m glad to be able to share OBEY THE GIANT with you here:

OBEY THE GIANT – The Story of Shepard Fairey from Julian Marshall on Vimeo.

Photo courtesy of OBEY THE GIANT


Category: Featured Posts, Videos | Tags: , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

March 23rd, 2013 | By | No Comments »
Ludo

“Abstract Ace” in Paris by Ludo

It’s a bit late, but it’s link-o-rama time…

Photos by Ludo


Category: Events, Gallery/Museum Shows, Interview, Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Toe The Line for PS 132

March 18th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
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Joe Iurato

Logan Hicks has organized an online auction to benefit the PTA at his son Sailor’s school, PS 132 in Brooklyn. Toe The Line includes contributions from Joe Iurato, Swoon,  Shepard Fairey, Chris Stain, Dabs and Myla, How and Nosm, Eric Haze, Faile, and others. Logan’s girlfriend and Sailor’s mother Kristen Zarcadoolas is the PTA president of PS 132, and they organized the auction after after yet another funding cut at the school.

“There is a lack of resources at every level within the public school system and I want to do all that I can to ensure that my son has a proper education,” says Hicks. “There is a moral responsibility to do everything possible to help support the public education.”

The auction went live just a few hours ago. You can see all the works and bid here.

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Swoon

Print

Photos courtesy of Logan Hicks


Category: Auctions | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,