Aïda Gómez wins at street Tetris

March 28th, 2015 | By | No Comments »

tetris montaje small

Aïda Gómez saw a deteriorating wall in the Berlin subway and thought what we all think when we see a city’s infrastructure falling apart: “This is terrible. I can’t believe I just paid money to wait for a train in this place if they can’t even fix the walls…” Well actually, no. Gómez wasn’t quite so sour. She saw an opportunity to inject some fun onto the subway and use art to repair the wall. She did this:

tetris

Okay, I’m not sure “street Tetris” is really a thing. I suppose I just made it up, but if it were a thing, Gómez just won. She calls this project Mind the Gap. It reminds me of the Astoria Scum River Bridge by Jason Eppink and Posterchild, which I also really love.

Also, here’s a GIF version:

tetris

Photos by Aïda Gómez, GIF by RJ Rushmore


Category: Animation, Photos | Tags: , ,

Print is Power – An interview with Aida, the Printmaker

July 30th, 2011 | By | 7 Comments »

Where the magic happens, Aida's studio. Photo by Shower.

On a hot summer’s day, about a year ago, I headed to High Roller Society for the second in a series of three workshops on the art of printing. I was particularly excited as this session covered the subject of screenprinting, a technique I actually knew little about. For me screenprinting was nothing new, in fact for anyone with an interest in art, let alone street art, it should be nothing new. But I will openly admit my knowledge on the process behind it was lacking.

Whilst I was eagerly anticipating the workshop itself, I was equally interested in meeting printermaker extraordinaire, Aida. Starting out from her mum’s bath, which she claims she ruined, Aida began producing her own clothes over a decade ago. Now running her own successful brand, Brag Clothing, alongside lecturing at the London College of Communication, Aida is perhaps equally famous for her work with some of the UK’s leading street artists. A list that includes the likes of Lucas Price, Sweet Toof, Sickboy and Kid Acne among others.

Pulling a print at Aida's workshop. Photo by High Roller Society.

Surrounded by tables of printing equipment including her trusted squeegee, Aida began the workshop in earnest. Her passion and extensive knowledge kept the audience captivated from the first minute whilst she covered everything from producing screens and mixing inks to actually getting hands on, with everyone having the opportunity to pull their own print. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and I now view screenprinting in a completely different light. The skill, attention to detail, and creativity needed to be successful is amazing.

Following the workshop I was eager to catch up with Aida again and discuss screenprinting further, including its relationship to street art. It may have taken me a year but it was definitely worth it. Not only is Aida’s studio an Aladdin’s cave of printed wonders but it was refreshing to sit down and hear her opinion on a variety of subjects. I often think that the process of screenprinting and the printer themselves are forgotten, you may have a wall of prints yourself but have you ever thought about what goes into producing them? Hopefully this interview goes some way to answering that and you find it as interesting as I do.

The finished outcome. Photo by High Roller Society.

Shower: How did you did you get into screenprinting?
Aida: I got into screen printing when I was about 18. I had seen it done before and at the time my work was quite photographic. And I liked the fact you could make multiples of something and change it.

But I suppose it depends who you are though. Most people that I know that have got into screen printing, are people who enjoy some sort of learning through process, and most produce work that actually lends itself this method of printing. However the people I know who are successful at screen printing were screen printers first and became an artist second.

How did you get involved in street art and the artists who you work with?
I actually didn’t know anything about street art up until about 3 or 4 years ago. I had my shop in Brick Lane and I just made clothes in my workshop downstairs. I just loved printing and I used to make loads of stuff – clothes, prints, canvas’s, and obviously being in Brick Lane I used to get loads of street artists hanging around. It is a great place to showcase work, it’s amazing.

The little street I was on was covered in quite a bit of graffiti and the artists used to come to the shop. I didn’t know these people whatsoever; it was just bizarre that they used to just approach me. I first got approached by a few to paint next to my shop, I didn’t know who they were so I researched them a little bit and reluctantly let them do it.

So I suppose I just got into it that way, and next thing you know, I had people like Kid Acne coming in and saying “Oh your clothes are really cool, did you print these? The colours are so good. I want you to do a print.” You just got a phone call here and there and that was it. To be honest, I still don’t know a lot of people in street art, it’s mainly just the people I work with.

The former Brag Clothing shop near Brick Lane. Photo by Aida.

So a lot of it was through word of mouth?
Yeah, word of mouth. And through the clothes and through the quality of the print. I think it’s a relationship really between myself and the artist.

Can you explain to me a little about that relationship? How do you take an original and produce a print?
It depends who you work with. For example, for a project like Safewalls, both Glenn [Anderson] and Sweet Toof wanted a full reproduction of the work. Due to the amount of colours I opted to cross between spot colours like flat colours and process which is CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

If you haven’t been printing for a while it’s a really difficult process to do because you have different varying sizes of dots, inks are mixed, and I like to mix mine from scratch so I can control the amount of CMYK in relation to each other. That’s one way.

At other times, a lot of other people I’ve worked with like to come into the studio and draw directly onto drafting film. You have two light fast pens and they draw sporadically, often improvising. But personally, I think the best way and the most successful prints that we have done are the ones where the artist has worked directly, hand drawing work that is transferred directly onto the screens.

Printing in progress - layers C & Y of Glenn Anderson's Safewalls print. Photo by Aida.

Layer upon layer - C, M & Y of Glenn's print. Photo by Aida.

Why do you think street art takes so well to the screen printing process?
Screenprinting is a process that allows you to get multiples out of things, but it’s also about documenting. Street art doesn’t last for too long on the street so the best way to capture it before it gets buffed, while a canvas may take a long time, is to screenprint. It’s really is documenting it.

In addition, there is a trend at the moment where everyone thinks “Oh yeah lets put out a print, it’s going to be an instant hit, it’s going to sell out!” But, in reality, no it’s not! A good print isn’t about copying what’s on the street to make an instant hit. You just have to go into some print house or gallery, and you’ll see loads of editions just left over, that have cost thousands to make. It’s a silly way of thinking.

I just think you have to understand that not every single piece of work lends itself to being a screenprint. In fact, when I was talking to Glenn [Anderson], he said, for his work that’s so detailed with so many colours, he would like to start thinking like a screenprinter and how images can be broken down and simplified, almost like when you are trying to create stencils but with a lot more detail.

But an important point to consider is that most screenprinters would say that screenprinting isn’t a process that is for a full scale, full colour reproduction. It doesn’t lend itself to that. If you want that, you go to do a digital Giclee or opt for a more traditional process like Lithography. For me screen-printing is an interpretation of someone’s work and not a full scale photographic reproduction.

So it’s almost an art form within itself?
In the hands of a professional printer, yes, it can be an art form. It takes so long to get the colour balance right, the right separations and screen mesh, even the way you set up the hand bench contributes to the quality of the print. To actually produce 70 prints that you don’t have a finger mark on, especially when the paper has been in and out of the drying rack about 10 times – printing, drying, letting the paper breath, cutting it to size, it’s a long process. A real labour of love.

"A real labour of love" - Printing for Kid Acne. Photo by Aida.

On the subject of some people turning to screenprinting with the aim of becoming an ‘instant hit’, I wanted to ask if would ever work with artists with that frame of mind?
Personally, I’m in a really comfortable, happy situation, where I only work with people who I want to and respect. That’s why I’m an independent printer, that’s my ethos, work with people who know about the process, who are true and can actually draw or paint.

You know, you can approach any print house though and they will knock anything out for you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being an entrepreneur and using initiative to make money. But at the end of the day it’s the respect and the longevity that they probably won’t have. So you know, yeah a quick buck is good but your reputation is going to suffer or bring any longevity for your career as an artist.

You say you only tend to print for people you know or like, but do you ever end up printing pieces that you don’t personally like even though you like the artist?
[With a smile] I have done in the past, yep, quite a lot, you call it your “bread & butter” jobs, we all have to pay the rent! There are some people who really want me to do their stuff and I’ll have a time slot and I’ll think “Why not? Let’s do it.” But I might not gel with them, you know. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’ve done a print and they aren’t happy with it, it hasn’t looked the way they want it to. But that happens.

But on the whole they are happy?
Of course, most of the time they are happy. But you know what, I hate to say this, but when I’m printing something, I know fairly straight away if it’s going to sell or not. But my clients never ask me that, most just want to see the finished print. Although if I am close with the artist I do offer my professional opinion sometimes.

Is that based simply on aesthetic value or as a printer do you possess a more in depth understanding view?
I’ve had my own business for over 7 years. I started on various market stalls, grafting in the cold, and for 3 years did a lot of market research watching people’s faces and hearing the comments. So I kind of more or less know. That’s why when I release a print myself, I wait and wait and time it. I time it commercially. I more of less know when to release things, colours etc. I’ve got good experience in selling.

A very happy outcome - Zapatism by Sickboy. Photo by Aida.

What impact do you think screenprinting has had on the street art movement and its commercialisation?
I think in the last 2 years, it’s played a really big part in the street art movement. For example Eine’s 70-odd colour print had a really big impact. It showed the versatility of screenprinting. I love the way you can take away a colour, bring a colour in, take some off the rack and just play around.

I don’t know whether you could call it kind of selling out for the street artist but I’m still toying with the idea of this fast buck and making a quick profit. In general, I still go back to thinking street art doesn’t last. I still think, for the pure people, it’s about documenting.

But I do know some street artists that are real craftsmen and craftswomen, who do their own print making and screenprinting. And I think if they do it themselves it’s a really good form of expression. However then you have people like POW that mostly release street artist’s prints and they have made a really huge business out of it. So I suppose they have had a really big impact on street art, they are the foremost forerunners in the market in my opinion.

So having a print with POW sort of means you have made it? It’s kind of a big deal.
It’s a really big deal, I would say a privilege to even be asked! The impact of POW in the screenprinting world for street art is huge.

But, the question is, what do you do after you have had a print with POW?! That’s the thing about screenprinting, its about producing multiples, it is so easy to get carried away and make so much art, flooding the market and having your prints left on the shelf. It’s such a sad thing when you look at a big stack of prints and realise only 30 per cent of the edition have sold, does this affect the collector who only buys a print as an investments?

So maybe the way forward with making street art prints is to make small editions, with a bit of hand finishing. But still, I think that a print should be affordable as that is why any type of print process was born to be. I think artists thinking of producing prints should remember this, unless they are a screen printing artist and only produce work in this medium. If you can’t afford to buy an original work of the artist that you like, you should be able to afford a screen print by them.

Hand finishing prints with Sweet Toof. Photo by Aida.

Finished and drying in the rack - Toof-O-Matic by Sweet Toof. Photo by Aida.

With regard your input, how much of a contribution do you have in the prints that you produce? Does this change if an artist just sends you a Jpeg? 
If someone does actually send me a Jpeg or something, I’ve actually got a little disclaimer. I advise on the basics that a lot of people might not have had any experience of printing. I try to make it kind of friendly and put in layman’s terms of what you can get away with and what you can’t, the size of the image, shrinking it down and that kind of thing.

Sometimes I do get an image that just won’t be conducive to the screenprinting process. I have some impact in telling them to change it, but in those aspects the artist tends not to much. They tend to say just do this and that, end of.

But then, if I’m working with the artist in my studio and they just come in and do something, they do often ask me about colour, about size. When I was working with Nychos for his solo show for Pure Evil, I think we sat down for a couple of hours and discussed which image would work on what size paper, and then we discussed colour for about 2 hours with my little Pantone book. Whereas with someone like Lucas Price, we sometime improvise which is quite nice, we just try things out.

With the Safewalls project, I don’t think I’ve ever had this much creative input in doing something. I think they trusted me to do the best I could. I was given the images from the originals and told you can basically do what you want as long as you make it look really good. But then you get some artists, even down the phone, who say; “Just choose a green, pistachio green, that will do!” And your like “what do you do?!”

That’s a lot of faith in you!
Yeah, it’s a lot of faith. But that again is the core thing about what I believe – everyone should have a really good relationship with their screenprinter. It has to be a really tight relationship based on trust.

Printing with Nychos. Photo by Aida.

Experimenting with Lucas Price. Photo by Aida.

You work so closely to the artists but how do you feel about credit and credit for a print?
It’s fine. I’m just their printer.

Really?
I have no attachment. Nothing. I know, I’ve spoken to other printers that are artists as well, and they are always like “Well you know, your hand was in making it.” Sometimes an artist might just give me just a line drawing and I have to sit there physically by hand, because they might not use a computer, and a lot don’t, tracing and doing stuff on drafting film. I’ve more or less made it, I’ve separated the colours, I’ve tweaked it, and I’ve mixed the colours.

You really are the artist behind the artist then!
Sometimes, sometimes you are. But you know what; it’s not your work. You didn’t conceptualise it or draw it, you didn’t think of it.

But you produced it.
I produced it, like music producers do, but it’s the singer who gets the credit! And I enjoy producing work for people. I like the look on their faces when they see the finished work. And usually they will recommend me to other people. That’s my reward, it’s nice. I just like to help people out.

But to be honest, If I wasn’t doing my own art too it would be different. I think I would be quite frustrated. I know a lot of printers that are just in a print house from 9-8 or whatever, who are just printing other peoples work and it gets you down.

Separating, tweaking and mixing the colours - Printing Sweet Toof's Safewalls print. Photo by Shower.

You have obviously worked with many successful artists, but what would you say is your biggest achievement?
This is going to sound stupid, but when I was 19 or 20, I always had an idea of what I wanted to do and I always knew I would work for myself as I was such a control freak. And when I was about 21 or 22, when I was graduating, I wrote a little manifesto about keeping it real and being true to one’s self – lots of arrogant views on mass consumerism, and you know, creating something niche but something that I was always going to make a living out of. At the end of the day why do you work? Or why do you believe in your craft and want to better yourself?

It’s to be successful, make your family proud, and if you can make a living out of it, that’s a bonus. And I think that’s my biggest achievement, that’s what I’m proud of. Going back to my core beliefs, I’ve tried to maintain this. I’ve met some of the best, most talented, hard working people in the world and I’ll be meeting loads more, I hope. I’m still making a nice living by doing what I’ve always set out to do.

That doesn’t sound stupid, just pretty grounded and level headed. One final question, who are you inspired by and why?
I’m inspired by all the people I meet and work with every day. Every different person I meet brings a new thing to the table. Like when I met Glenn [Anderson], I thought “Wow.” You look at his pieces, you look at his detail and you think “How do you do that?!” Or you take little Nychos and you look at his walls and again you just think “Wow.” I’m amazed by everyone I meet everyday.

If you would like to know more about Aida, or check out Brag Clothing, then head over to the newly refurbished Aida Prints website. And if she runs another workshop then I highly recommend heading along, but in the meantime you can read up about last years High Roller event thanks to a great review by NoLionsInEngland over on Graffoto Blog.

Photos by Aida, High Roller Society and Shower.


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

What and where are open walls?

December 24th, 2014 | By | 3 Comments »
Partial buffed Barry McGee mural at Bowery and Houston (the buff marks cover more red tags). Photo by Andrew Russeth.

Partially buffed Barry McGee mural at Bowery and Houston (the buff marks cover more red tags). Photo by Andrew Russeth.

UPDATE: Xavi Ballaz (known for Difusor and the Open Walls Conference in Barcelona) has responded to this post with some of the more positive advancements towards open walls, and suggests that the open walls movement does indeed need a manifesto.

A friend of mine recently used an interesting phrase: “the open walls movement.” I thought he was using the term as a synonym for “the street art festival circuit,” which upset me, because street art festivals do not have what I would call “open walls.” But really, my friend was commenting on a larger movement perceived to be spreading around the world to use public space differently (insomuch as walls on private property are public space). On the surface, he’s right. Street art festivals, grassroots muralism programs, free walls, curated alleyways and everything in between now exist in cities and small towns around the world.

Does that make a movement? I don’t know. Nobody is getting together to write a manifesto and participants’ aims and methods are diverse, but there is a disparate group of what I’ll call “open walls people” who share a new way of looking at walls and public space: Public walls are for the artists, murals enliven streets and communities, and there should be limited or no government regulation of murals, but advertising in public space should be heavily regulated or eliminated entirely. Simply put, “open walls people” believe in unrestricted art in (often odd) public spaces.

But how open are our walls today? Surfing the web, it sometimes feels like globe-trotting muralists can hop off a plane in any city, find a wall, and begin painting the next day, or that every small European city is covered in murals. That’s simply not true. Despite valiant and well-intentioned efforts, there’s a long way to go before we have anything approaching “open walls.”

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Featured Posts, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Francesco Garbelli’s street art before “street art”

April 16th, 2014 | By | 2 Comments »
"Altare," 1984

“Altare,” 1984

Recently, VladyArt introduced me to the work of the Italian artist Francesco Garbelli. Garbelli has been working outdoors since the mid-1980’s. While he certainly wasn’t the first to do street art and the term was used in its present meaning as early as 1970’s, Garbelli was certainly active long before the term street art was commonplace, and many of his projects predate by decades similar works by artists that most of us in the street art world are much more familiar with. In this interview, VladyArt asks Garbelli his early work and what it was like to be so far ahead of his time. – RJ Rushmore

"La via per immagini," 1985

“La via per immagini” (“The road to images”), 1985

VladyArt: Do you remember your first urban intervention? What year was it and how did it all start?

Francesco Garbelli: I started quite early, in the first half of the 1980’s. At that time I was writing poems and songs, and I loved the idea of giving these words the opportunity to leave the sheet for walls and sidewalks. I thought it was the way to maximize the word; I called these “letters in action”… but nobody knew about it. I took pictures of these letters, however, my intention was not being as an artist, yet. As an artist, I started only between the ’84-’85 when, together with a group of other artists, I occupied a large dismissed factory (Brown-Boveri), entering down through a window with a rope. It was a great place to work, and quite central, in Milan. We stayed almost a year, calling dozen of artists afterwards. The place was then reopened to the public, totally transformed by our installations. That was probably the most noticeable artistic event of the decade! One of my installations there was called “altare” (altar) to underline the importance of that abandoned but still “holy” place; my church. Life at Brown-Boveri was very inspiring. My first outdoor works popped up on my way to the university, where I studied architecture, in 1985. They were all located between the metro (subway) exit and the university gate. All streets had names of significant people (such as Leonardo Da Vinci) and I deleted all surnames, making the streets being dedicated to no one in particular: Maria, Giuseppe or Davide. After this, in another intervention, I substituted the person’s name with an image of their work (See Escher). Ultimately on this street name subject, I renamed the streets with sentences and meaningful words (as in “Le lettere vi guardano” = letters are looking at you).

"Il ritorno delle parole," 1985

“Il ritorno delle parole” (“The return of the words”), 1985

VladyArt: Did you have any role models or artists who inspired you?

Garbelli: No, especially not in the beginning. All it was taken from my studies and cinema. For example, admiring the wild nature taking back the space at the Brown-Boweri factory, I was immediately thinking of movies such as Stalker and Blade Runner.

"Neo post trans," 1988

“Neo post trans,” 1988

VladyArt: Did you know other active urban artists in Italy, Europe and America?

Garbelli: In those years, painting was getting back in the world of art, under the name of Neo-expressionism in Germany and the States and as “Trans-avanguardia” in Italy. This return was totally welcomed by the art biz. I wasn’t exited about that, however the phenomena were pretty cool: people got back to painting and playing guitar like in the 1970’s! I felt very distant from conventional painting, so much that in 1988 I did the “!” danger sign; underneath the triangle I wrote “Neo, Post, Trans,” meaning beware of post/trans-avanguardia and Neo-expressionism.  Providentially, in the States was emerging a new art scene, a fresh air breath: Rammellzee, A-One (Anthony Clark), Futura 2000, Richard Hambleton, Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring… just to mention a few. The term “street art” did not exist or I did not know about it. We called it New York Graffiti. We knew about the Lower East Side movement or as the Hispanic were saying “Loisaida.” We knew graffiti: some Americans came to Milan, especially at  Salvatore Ala gallery. I actually briefly met Rammelzee, A-One and Haring. I remember particularly A-One, asking, “Are you an artist or a graffiti writer?” to anyone while shaking hands. I understood that for him, the difference was beyond art, it had a social value within. For me it was a bit different: I was not a painter such as in canvas making, extracting bits from Picasso or Carrà, but I was not that urban graffiti type of guy either. I needed my way, a less instinctive approach certainly, and that’s how I got closer to road signs.

Untitled, 1989

Untitled, 1989

VladyArt: So why road signs?

Garbelli: Aside from the historical reasons already mentioned, I have found interest in road sign for their international appeal, the communication made without the words, their attempt to substitute the language with images; a sort of revenge by the old pictography. I was fascinated by some native North American tribe that used knots on ropes or tags on woods to communicate basic concepts; but that’s how our road sign system works! I took the opportunity to launch ironic, fantastic and critical messages through road signs.

"Idrante ionico con fregio," 1990

“Idrante ionico con fregio” (“Hydrant with ionic frieze”) 1990

VladyArt: How did the people and your colleagues react on your art expression?

Garbelli: Opposite and polarized opinions. It was cool for many, while others were wondering whether road signs could be art or not. With the most of my interventions, I got the attention of the media. However, due to the nature of my uncommissioned (and unsigned) installations, I wasn’t aware of that attention in real time; I couldn’t follow the feedback like people can do today via internet. There was much more surprise when buying the papers and finding my latest work on it. In Italy, beside the Macam (an open air contemporary museum in Maglione, Italy), there was not much availability or interest. My really first interventions done with permission were made abroad, in Holland and Germany, were they let me realized my installations without that ton of nonsense bureaucracy we used to have (City Council, local police, fire dept., Church or so!).

"Macam," 1989

“Macam,” 1989

VladyArt: Have you been influential to some younger artists, on your opinion?

Garbelli: I wouldn’t know. The first time I noticed this possibility was by the end of the nineties. I remember two particular episodes, closer to one another. In both cases I was introduced to some younger artist and both told me to have been my fans. As that sounded pretty weird to me at that time. I managed to answer to one: “I guess you had a difficult childhood then,” and we both started laughing.

"Transito Velocipedi," 1990

“Transito velocipedi” (“Transiting cycles”), 1990

VladyArt: How did you make connections within the art community? Physically or even by mail?

Garbelli: Well, Milan in the 1980’s was really hectic and full of parties; we were basically going out all nights. Hedonism and yuppie were not my cup of tea, but the city was truly full of events and opportunity. We gathered pretty easily. Otherwise we used the phone, fax and even letters, especially for sending catalogues, pictures and projects.

VladyArt: What’s your opinion regarding this “explosion” of interest in urban art and urban artists?

Garbelli: The growing success of urban artists (and their art) is the combination of several factors. Certainly, the public opinion has changed dramatically, in a positive way. Today there are plenty of festival and exhibitions about public/street art and this is not only considered acceptable by the people but even strongly encouraged by the authorities. In the 1980’s, the public opinion was hostile and my interventions were marked as vandalism by many, even if I did all so graphically and “clean.” From the authorities and the police I noticed about the same attitude but certainly there was less territorial control compared to today. I had no CCTV on my neck. But mostly, today’s boom is thanks to the internet. The public can see all your stuff; artists can form communities. Isolation isn’t a problem, all can happen in real time. I think this has been decisive. On top of that, consider TV; while the “other” art isn’t truly media-friendly for its contents and tempo, (it’s a hard topic for TV formats), street art is photogenic, camera friendly, young and it fits perfectly. This helps the spread of street art via TV, which is globally still the most popular information tool of our times.

"La via per immagini," 1985

“La via per immagini,” 1985

VladyArt: Have you got new project and installation for the near future?

Garbelli: Yes absolutely, and I will keep you posted about it. Milan will host the 2015 world expo with the theme “nourishing the planet.” I am conceiving a new outdoor installation about the tribal world, the only people who are doing effectively something to help and save the planet, despite being unaware about it. My world, our modern world, is outlined by Non-Places, characterized by ignorant and criminal minds and their visual rapes; as I feel more and more out of the place, I find it appropriate today to care about these people.

"Peace," 1990

“Peace,” 1990

Photos courtesy of Francesco Garbelli


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

How and Nosm’s visit to Palestine

October 9th, 2013 | By | 4 Comments »

DSC00240

Today we have a guest post from William Parry about How&Nosm’s recent trip to Palestine to work with the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. Parry is the communications officer at Medical Aid for Palestinians and it’s certainly a bit atypical for a communications officer to write a guest post for Vandalog about a project they are in charge of, but Parry is also the author of Against the Wall: the art of resistance in Palestine (2010), which was reviewed on Vandalog a while back, so he’s also uniquely qualified to write about graffiti writers and street artists working with Palestinians and painting on or near the separation wall. I also had to privilege of seeing Parry speak at Haverford College last year, and it’s clear that improving the lives of Palestinians is his passion as well as his job. Also, if you want to read more about How&Nosm’s time in Palestine, Brooklyn Street Art also have a great post about the experience. – RJ

Sometimes you take a chance and it pays sweetly. Bringing How&Nosm to Palestine over the past two weeks was one of them, and I believe they feel the same, as they also didn’t know exactly what they were setting themselves up for.

Almost a year ago, I first met the Perré twins, Raoul and Davide, while doing an article about Prague’s ‘Stuck on the City’ street art exhibition. We got talking about politics and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and I eventually asked whether they would ever consider collaborating with the UK-based charity I had just begun working for, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), doing art workshops with MAP’s local partners in Palestine. “Sure,” they said. It would give them a chance to also do their own artwork on walls around Palestine.

A year on and countless emails later, I was anxiously waiting for them at the airport in Tel Aviv, wondering if the Immigration officials had caught wind of the project and would send them back to NYC. The heavily tattooed, stencil-and-cap-carrying twins said they were here for a 10-day organized tour. Nosm appeared after some time and said his brother had got stopped. “They didn’t believe we were here for the tour and asked us who else was on it,” he said. “How should I know, I told them, maybe just us for all I know! What could he do?” Another 10 minutes went by before How walked through the sliding doors, straight-faced, then he cracked a smile. “They went through my photos on my camera, asked why I was here of all places. I said: ‘I’ve been to 60 countries but not here yet. I want to tick Israel off the list.’”

Within minutes we were in the car for central Tel Aviv to get them a pre-order of cans in their signature colours. Three young guys running the shop were clearly honoured to have How&Nosm on their turf and volunteered to guide them to the best places to bomb. “What have you got planned?” one asked. “We’re here for some work,” said Nosm, keeping schtum. They clearly wanted to paint with them but Nosm took their numbers and said they’d be in touch. We filled the trunk with boxes of spray cans and headed for occupied Palestine.

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Split Identities

Their natural environment is the street so I shouldn’t have been surprised that How&Nosm were keen to check into their East Jerusalem hotel, grab a quick shower and then head immediately to Bethlehem to sort out more paint, rollers, ladders and walls to paint – despite having travelled for about 20 hours by this time. We met a Palestinian street artist who goes by the name ‘Trash’ – he worked with Banksy to sort out his 2007 Santa’s Ghetto project in Bethlehem, and has also helped JR with several local projects. As dusk fell, Trash gave them a quick tour of ideal spots to do murals and arranged to meet the twins the following morning.

While Drinking Tea

While Drinking Tea

Over the next two days they produced three murals around Bethlehem – the largest ‘Lost Conversation’, as well as ‘In Mother’s Hands’ and ‘While Drinking Tea’ – and one in East Jerusalem, ‘Split Identities’. Locals would stop and talk to them, as usual, asking where they’re from, why they’re here, what the intricate images mean. But with four murals done, it was down to other serious business.

More is Not Enough. Click to view large.

More is Not Enough. Click to view large.

What How&Nosm witnessed for themselves as we drove through the occupied West Bank – scores of illegal Israeli outposts and settlements built on Palestinian land, the scandalous route of Israel’s illegal separation wall, seeing the freedoms that Israelis enjoy at the expense of Palestinians’ human rights, and hearing of Palestinian homes being demolished or taken over by Israeli settlers, shocked them deeply. They spent one day with a former Israeli military commander, Yehuda Shaul, who co-founded an Israeli human rights organization called ‘Breaking the Silence’. He drove them to the southern point of the West Bank and, throughout the journey, gave them a clear understanding of the layers of Israeli occupation and their intended impact on Palestinian communities – ethnic cleansing. I spent many days in the car with How&Nosm, talking about the situation among other things, and you could see their frustration and outrage growing with every mile covered as the occupation unfolded before their eyes.

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In Mother’s Hands

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tasj vol ii – issue iii

November 6th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

Seth and I are finally back in LA after our trip to London and Paris. I had jet lag the whole time I was in London, then got it again when I got home, so that wasn’t particularly enjoyable, but other than that we did some fun things. Now we’re working toward Block Party with Boxi, Krystian Truth Czaplicki, Gregor Gaida, Simon Haas and Dan Witz + a showcase with Sixeart, which opens here at Carmichael Gallery on Saturday, November 13, and putting together the Miami issue of tasj.

I just wanted to quickly share some highlights from the current issue of tasj (vol ii – issue iii). As always, it’s free to subscribe to, no matter where you live.

As you can see from the cover, this is Part II of our Backstage Series (see who was in Part I here). One of my favorite interviews is with Mike Vargas and Moni Pineda, who run the web series/blog Friends We Love. I recommend checking out the site if you haven’t been on it yet; there is so much great content up there!

In addition to our Unurth, auction and art fair pages, we also have several new regular sections: Special Event (for shows taking place outside traditional gallery/museum settings – you’ll read about Blk River in here), Stopover (our city guide – this issue highlights London), Limited Edition (for prints and multiples – Faile, Bumblebee, Eine and Zeus are street artists who feature) and Newsstand (an off-shoot of Bookshelf and a place to support our fellow magazines and newspapers).

Hope you enjoy!

– Elisa


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Block Party at Carmichael Gallery with Boxi, Dan Witz and more

November 5th, 2010 | By | No Comments »

Boxi

Next week is going to be a difficult one for art fans in LA. On the one hand, Roa has a solo show opening with Thinkspace (but not at their usual space, which would make things easy because Thinkspace and Carmichael Gallery are practically next door as I understand it). And on the other, Carmichael Gallery has Block Party, a solid group show opening on the same night. Both shows open next Saturday. But this is about Block Party.

Dan Witz

In addition to street artists Boxi and Dan Witz (you have no idea the joy I felt when I heard that my dad picked up a good Dan Witz painting recently), there are some other interesting artists in the show. Of particular note is probably Gregor Gaida, whose piece was one of my highlights of Moniker last month.

In addition to original works, Boxi will also be doing an installation in the gallery, so that may just tip the scales in the Carmichaels’ favor over Roa for me, but both shows should be something to see for sure.

Photos courtesy of Carmichael Gallery


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Printing Process Workshops Presented by High Roller Society

July 8th, 2010 | By | 1 Comment »

High Roller Society will be offering free workshops over the next three weekends in monoprinting, linocutting, and screenprinting. In conjunction with their latest show “Press and Release,” these workshops will be open to the public and will teach you in depth techniques from featured artists in the exhibit. The following descriptions are taken directly from the site to explain each workshop.

Monoprint: Saturday, 10 July 3-6pm
Monoprint (or monotype) is often thought of as “the painter’s printmaking”, referring to the painterly qualities that this printing technique can achieve.  Invented by Castiglione, monotype “served to break down boundaries between painting, printmaking and drawing”. Using thick layers of water-based printing ink, Perspex sheets, and ear buds, all are invited to drop by while artists Martin Payne and Martin Lea Brown get their hands dirty.  Anyone is free to join in and experiment with this easy and versatile printing method that has captivated great masters such as Picasso, Degas and Gauguin.

Linocut: Saturday, 24 July 3-6pm
Relief printing is one of the simplest and oldest forms of printmaking, for which the linocut is attributed.  Known for revealing a more raw look, linocutting requires a range of rudimentary-looking tools, such as U-shaped and V-shaped gouges, to carve images into linoleum sheets. Join us as several artists from our current exhibition demonstrate various techniques in linoleum mark-making. THEN, try your hand at inking and printing the linoleum plates of artists such as Nylon, Cyclops, Sweet Toof and more….  This is an opportunity to get a hand-on approach to printing the works of these acclaimed artists yourself, and a chance to get a bargain in the process.

Screenprint: Saturday, 17 July, 3-6pm
Grandchild of the age-old stencil, screenprinting has been gaining both popularity and speed in the contemporary art world of today.  With visual effects aplenty, a steady arm is the main ingredient for achieving the best results.  Come test your upper body strength, and create ironical wearable graffiti paraphernalia with Miss Aida of Neon-Inc and Brag Clothing.  Printing the likes of Kid Acne, Sickboy, and the entire Burning Candy crew, Aida has quickly become a master screen-printer-to-the-stars.  Pop over to see how its done– Roll up your sleeves, learn the tricks of the trade, feed the creative revolution, and rejoin the world in DIY style.

For more information visit High Roller Society

Photo by High Roller Society


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