An Interview with The London Police

Photo by Lord Jim

This is an exciting time for The London Police. Celebrating their 10th year in the art world, gracing streets around the world with their iconic LADS characters, Chaz and Bob now celebrate the opening of their first solo show in Newcastle A Night with the London Police, which opened on Thursday and will continue through May 18th. Sorry you missed spending a night with TLP and still in the area? You still have a chance to catch them in action, as they will be painting a large mural in Newcastle.

Amidst all the activity, Chaz was kind enough to divulge some of the lesser known details about The London Police to Vandalog.

Which came first: your signature style or your aptness for vandalism?

My aptness for vandalism started as I was tagging my full name in crayon down the staircase walls in our house when I was 3. I hadn’t learnt that an alias might have helped or that it was wrong to even do it and so my father administered some quick and effective physical abuse to begin my rehabilitation. The signature style LADS characters began 20 years later.

Did you try out other names/styles before you established TLP?

We never had another name before The London Police. TLP was originally making photographs with a view to pasting them up on the streets (which we never did). The characters came later. Bob’s illustrative input later still.

Photo by Unusualimage

What is the artistic process of working in a duo (or formerly trio)?
We draw up some ideas depending on what project we are making and head off in a suitable direction whilst remaining flexible to subtle changes of idea on the way. One of us will start and the other will takeover at some point. The artwork will keep going back and forth whilst we’re always bouncing thoughts off each other of how we can produce the best result.

We keep morale up in the studio with plenty of close harmony singing. The singing mostly consists of acapella songs about dogs. The rest of the time we predominantly listen to the TOP GUN soundtrack or Bacobens Top Rock 500.

What would you say to your professors at your fine art school?
I didn’t go to fine art school. Bob says he would ask them how they felt about his regression from ‘fine sculpting’ to someone whose dressed like a blind man.

A Night With the London Police is your first Unit44 opening. What’s different for you between this and your previous releases?

Only that the artwork is all Newcastle-centric. Its not a largescale exhibition. Just an invite from the Unit 44 boys to come over their studio and enjoy some drinks, music, bit of live drawing etc. Actually we only have two original works on show, but they are both being made into prints. The main reason for being in town is to paint a mural. Right now I should be painting it but I’m doing this interview in the pub opposite as outside it’s raining like a tiger pissing on a flat rock.

Photo by Delete08

When you gave up your jobs, and transitioned away from working with photography to focus on TLP, what was the vision of “success” you were aiming for?

Just to be able to live off our artwork without having to work for anyone else or do projects we didn’t want to do. ‘Success’ to us is about being happy in life and not wasting your time.

TLP recently celebrated its 10 year mark in the art world, and in that time you’ve gotten to paint all over the world. Can you tell us a little about what that feels like? How have you evolved? How has the “scene” evolved?

We are so grateful for the opportunities we have had to see the world and paint/showcase our work in so many different places. In the early days it was simply about traveling and leaving traces everywhere we went. As the scene strengthened through the internet and the growth of public interest the opportunities grew with it. These days we find ourselves working intensely on canvas work and making a reasonable living off our art. In some ways the romance of getting up and hitting the streets has been replaced with more of a work ethic, but it’s not lost on us that we have created our own freedom to do what we want and with continued success we can again create more freedom to work on other projects.

TLP and the scene have both evolved in many ways. Nothing ever stays the same so its important to enjoy things as they come; take the rough with the smooth and accept the changes too. Notably, Bob’s shift in fashion sense has worsened over the years. Recently he’s wearing the kind of shoes that make him look like a murderer.

Can you give us any details about the new mural you’ll be painting in Newcastle?

The lads from UNIT 44 have arranged everything. They are really trying to improve the visual aspect of their city by bringing different amazing artists from all around the world to paint. Unfortunately, all the amazing artists were busy so they asked us instead but we’ll do our best to make a big, strong, graphic piece. It’s on the side of a pub so that will help if we happen to fancy constant pints from midday onwards every day.

Photo by pierrotcarre

What’s your oldest piece still running on the streets?

I guess there’s a few in different countries like Netherlands, Japan, Germany, UK from the early 2000’s that pop up now and then but there can’t be much left from that era. The big commissioned murals tend to keep running. It makes me realize how effective the style of Space Invader is. That over time most of his work is still up in excellent spots.

If you could paint a mural anywhere and not get caught, where would it be and what would it be of?

I would roller my full name down my mum and dad’s staircase wall.

Do your LADS characters ever reflect your personal feelings?

Yep, I’m pretty much happy most of the time. That might be the Tapatio Reposado Tequila though.

What’s in the future for TLP?

We are making a “dog show” at Corey Helford Gallery in October. Different artists will custom make dog jackets and we will hire some quadruped youngsters to make a fashion show. On top of that we will be showcasing the TLP Dog Album with some live singing and a ‘dog’umentary. Dog-themed canvai will adorn the CHG walls and hopefully we will raise some money for our four legged friends.

Longterm we are hoping to buy an island near Malaysia and found our own country and live there with loads of other artists and musicians and have massive fields with packs of friendly dogs roaming around. We could also employ a specialist doctor to make Bob’s eyes less close together so he doesn’t look like a friendly, gormless Cyclops.

Photos by Unusualimage, Delete08, pierrotcarre and Lord Jim