Parasites and magnets: a story about street art and photography


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.


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?


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.


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.


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 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.


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!

Weekend link-o-rama

FIGHT by Rub Kandy

I’m off for a few days of traveling. Expect lots of pictures. Here’s what we missed on Vandalog this week:

Photo by Rub Kandy


Jack Murray aka Panik

London’s ATG crew is headed to New York City for a show this week at Klughaus Gallery. Silverlink brings together 4 members of ATG, including Vandalog-favorite Jack Murray aka Panik and photographer Will Robson-Scott, and should be an interesting test to see if ATG’s success in London will carry over to the NYC without as strong of a reputation locally. The show opens on Friday and runs through June 17th.

Vandalog Interviews – PANIK ATG

Photo by delete08

Whilst we here at Vandalog strive to cover the latest and freshest street art creations and goings on, we’ve noticed that in our haste our coverage of graffiti, at least it the purest sense of the word, has for lack of a better word been slipping as of late. In a new series of interview we’ve decided to go back to basics or back to where it all began if you will and interview some of the pioneers of the underground art scene before street art became a house hold name. In this, our first interview, we spoke to graffiti artist Panik from North London. Panik is one of the co founders of ATG – one of the most prolific and notorious graffiti crews England has seen in the last decade. From their cross over into music, fashion and now main stream street art, Panik exclusively talks to Vandalog in the wake of his latest solo exhibition at Pure Evil Gallery.

Just for our readers, can you tell us who you are, what crew(s) you represent and where are you from?

I’m Panik aka Mr.P, I represent the ATG crew and I’m from the borough of Camden, North London.

Photo by delete08

How long have you been doing graffiti for and how did you first get into writing?

I’ve been doing graffiti since 1999. I first got into it through my school funnily enough. There was a hall of fame behind the sports hall and a train tunnel that runs underneath the school with pieces by all of the old school heads. I used to check all the graff when skating over round the Westway and the South Bank as well. When I started, it was quite a natural thing to do as everyone had a tag. There’s still people I paint with today that I was going on my first bombs with at age 12 in my school corridors! It started with trying to be the most up in my school, then the local area then the whole of London and nowadays I am painting wherever I find myself in the world.

Photo by ATGLDN

Do you see what you do as some thing of an addiction?

Graffiti is an addiction and if your in it for the long haul then it is all about how to tame that addiction in a way that allows you to get on with the rest of your life. When you are fully immersed in it, you become a junkie for it and you start to neglect other things in your life, but if everything in your life is going bad, then it is that thing that will always be there for you and reminds you who you are and helps you move through changes in your life. Going out painting graffiti on my own has helped me sort my head out during hard times but when you know you’re probably going to be doing it for a long time, it’s important not to abuse it. In other words don’t go getting shitfaced on cheap cider all week if you want to be able to enjoy a cold pint on the weekend.

Photo by delete08

How did your involvement with ATG come about?

My involvement with ATG started in 2001. It came about through friends that were loosely connected through a scene in North-west London that was more or less orientated around selling weed. Basically there was a few of us at that time that were beginning to stand out and were pushing the graff scene forward north of the river so we joined forces under the name ATG
(Antagonizers) which was a name Aset had thought up. The original line up was me, Rest, Aset, Snore, Rayds and shortly after, Harm. ATG was and always will be a lot about partying as well as painting which is how we spread so quickly. We would go to random parties all over the city and then after when we were all charged up we would climb all over shit, bombing our way
home. We also wanted to raise the bar with illegal graffiti in London and try to step on stage with the people doing big things internationally.

Photo by mikeion

Who were/are you inspirations?

Artistically my inspiration has come from all over from old school London Graffiti to Street Art in South America and Europe and various typography and illustration from the past, but my energy is always found through my friends and London Town.

Photo by nolionsinengland

How do you feel the internet has affected Graffiti?

The internet has changed graffiti a lot, everyone knows this, but then it has changed everything in life. The one thing I’ve noticed about the internet and graffiti is that it has almost killed off regional styles. Before the internet really took off you could tell the difference between South London and North London graffiti not to mention the different styles in cities across the world. This was because people would be inspired by the graffiti they see in their area when growing up so the style of local heads would rub off on them. Because of the internet, now no matter where you are from you are probably looking at graffiti from around the world online more than local stuff on walls and so the styles these days all start to look the same like some international Euro/NYC mesh. The internet has made the graffiti subculture ridiculously easy to access. Info on almost anything about it is available online. People these days find spots to paint by checking photos on flickr, order all there specially designed graffiti paint online and track down and message their favorite writers on Facebook or MySpace.

Before the net you had to go out and search for your spots, spend a while stealing shit paint from hardware shops until you finally worked out the good paint to use and if you ever managed to cross paths with one of your favourite writers, it was a special moment. The internet has changed all that, but I’m not bitter. Graffiti has been adapting from it’s birth and this is just another era.

Photo by Pure Evil

This month you’re opening your second major solo show at Pure Evil Gallery. Can you tell us a little bit more about the show and how it differs from your first?

My first show at Pure Evil was my introduction to the gallery world so although I was at a stage with my work that I felt was ready to put out there, I was still only dipping my toes in the water. Since I started making artwork outside of graffiti, it’s sort of been centered around trying to capture moments of energy in my life, which can be hard as it’s not particularly slow paced and often a juggling act of highs and lows. For this next show my work feels like it is moving closer to channeling that energy through my style and visual communication of my thoughts. I’m sure it will feel a lot more like you are stepping inside my world. The work that will feature has been done over the last year in London and Amsterdam.

Photo by Pure Evil

What is the key to keeping your ideas fresh and not becoming mentally/physically burnt out by what you do?

I think there are different ways to keep yourself buzzing off your work, but variation in approach is always going to be the most important. Sometimes you just have to live and go and get yourself in to all sorts of situations in order to then go back and enjoy creating work. It definitely helps when I see someone doing things in a way that I have completely slept on. Seeing other people really going for it in a way I relate to always reminds me of why I do what I do. At the end of the day, I’ve grown up in a graffiti world so although I enjoy creating work for myself, I also love to come and make noise, let people know where I’m at and then move on to the next one. And there is always a next one, so that keeps the ball rolling in my world.

Photo by delete08

And finally, what does the future hold for yourself? In regards to your work, new projects and any other personal aspirations you have in life. Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?

Who knows what the future holds for me? My life isn’t slowing down at all so probably just more of the same carry on, more often. At the moment I’m liking the idea of getting into a new studio at the beginning of 2011, spend at least a year getting really lost in my work until I feel I’m creating something that is completely on point to how I see the world and what I want to convey and then do my next show in 2012 sometime. But who knows? I want to do a lot of things so could very easily be pulled in a different direction altogether. There’s always a lot of ATG projects to get busy with and walls that need paint on them. Generally at the beginning of the year I have a long list of stuff I want to complete or get underway by the end of the year, and then I just get stuck in and see how much of it I can do while while dealing with all the other stuff life throws at you. It’s nice to not know what’s around the corner.

Panik’s solo show at Pure Evil Gallery opens on November 11th.

Photos by nolionsinengland, delete08, Pure Evil, mikeion and ATGLDN

My Plans for Thursday

This Thursday is going to be, as it always seems to be, a very busy night for me. I’ll be visiting up to 4 galleries with a traveling brigade of my artsy friends. Here’s the plan:

1. Start at White Cube Hoxton Square for the Marcus Harvey exhibit “White Riot” for the portrait of Thatcher made out of sex toys and the bust of Churchill with a mohawk. Get there around closing time so that we can be unceremoniously tossed out at 6pm.

2. Next it’s off to Stella Dore for the Pam Glew show “Noir”. I’m not yet sold on her work, but I’m definitely open to seeing what she’s doing and the painting pictured on the advert they gave me is pretty sweet.

3. Perhaps the most surprising show of the evening will be at the Pure Evil Gallery. Panik, a member of London’s ATG crew, will be trying his hand a gallery work. I give this a 75% chance of not working out but just being a fun experience. It seems like graffiti artists usually can’t make that jump to the gallery. Panik’s work is awesome on the street, but the gallery is a completely different world. If it works though, as I’m hoping it will, it should be great.


4. And to cap off the evening, Part2ism has his show at The Art Lounge.