Hanging with mobstr


Another fantastic piece by mobstr. Context is king. First of all, how did he install this piece? But also, what a great spot for it! And of course, it doesn’t hurt that the little alleyway it’s on is just off of the heart of Brick Lane, one of the busiest roads in London for street art tourism. Mobstr knows his audience, for better or worse.


Photos by NoLionsInEngland

Watch a work by mobstr grow daily for over a year…

Photo by RJ Rushmore
Photo by RJ Rushmore

Last summer, I was visiting London and came across the above piece by mobstr in Hackney Wick. The piece was good for a laugh and I took a photo, but then I didn’t think much more of it. Until last week that is, when mobstr emailed me the update to the piece. Turns out, mobstr’s piece wasn’t a one and done. The count was accurate. Like much of mobstr’s previous work, this piece is a taunt and a game with the police and the buffman and took some real commitment. Here are the results…

NO 1
Photos by mobstr

Continue reading “Watch a work by mobstr grow daily for over a year…”

Mobstr discusses Sex, Drugs and Painting Walls

would you like to own

A slight clarification on the headline: UK wordsmith Mobstr is making his debut indoors with his upcoming solo show “Sex, Drugs & Painting Walls”, opening May 15th. He may be working legally, but you can expect the same cheeky subversiveness that we love him for on the streets. Mobstr was nice enough share some of his thoughts with Vandalog. Though he did not divulge any details of his sex life or drug experimentation here, Mobstr did assure us that he tries to answer all (sensible) emails from fans, if that’s what piques your curiosity.

Caroline Caldwell: In your ideal world, would painting walls be legal? If so, would you continue to do so or would you need to find a new method of being subversive?

Mobstr: I think so long as advertising visually dominates our urban environments something has got to be said for the importance of graffiti competing with it. If I am truly honest I am not sure if I would carry on doing what I do if it was legal as, for me, it would lose its edge. Now that street art has gained credentials a lot of legal work is possible and the big mural stuff seems to be dominating the scene. However, these large mural pieces you see popping up around the world aren’t street art for me. It’s the little subversions which interact and play with its surroundings that I define as street art. An analogy would be calling taggers street artists; they don’t play the same game. That is not to say I don’t like the large mural stuff, they are the obvious and needed realisation of the urban environment. The area of Shoreditch, London is filled up with art on walls. It is fantastic but it’s the stuff which was done in the dead of night that captures my attention.

Caroline: What’s your relationship with the street art community beyond the people who see your work on the street? Do you communicate with fans or participate in any dialogues online? Are you interested in other work that’s going up around the world?

Mobstr: I look at pictures online but beyond that and what I see out and about I have no interaction with the street art community.

I make a point of answering every sensible email I get. If you are appreciated for what you do, then you owe something to the people who appreciate you. Unless you have no desire for the world to see your creations then that audience is part of the reason you continue on.


Caroline: Why did you choose now to have your first solo show? Also, why did you choose to have a pop up show when you probably could have worked with any number of galleries?

Mobstr: I actually started to put this show together a few years ago however I realised I was far more interested in painting out on the street so stopped work on it completely… I had an outdoor addiction to feed. The decision to start work on it again was very fluid. I wanted to see this body of work amassed under one roof and it felt like the right time. I decided to do the show independently simply because I like to be independent. It also means you have 100% control over how it goes down which is something that is important to me.

Caroline: Do you feel that you’re addressing a different audience with your indoor work?

Mobstr: That depends on who comes down to the show.

Caroline: If you were allowed a free full-page ad in the newspaper, what would you do?

Mobstr: HUH?

Caroline: How important is documentation to you?

Mobstr: Very. It is almost as important as painting the actual piece. Depending on the efficiency of the graffiti removal team sometimes the only proof a piece existed is in the memory of mine and that of the graffiti removal team but most importantly in the documentation.

buy one get one free

Caroline: One of the interesting things about the art in this show is the frames you’ve chosen for your canvases. Why did you choose elaborate frames for work which even describes itself as minimal?

Mobstr: I am glad you picked up on that as there is a little bit of structure behind the framing. In general any work that is a critique of the art world comes in an ornate frame. I also used ornate frames to exaggerate the message or absurdity of certain pieces.

Caroline: What can people expect from Sex, Drugs and Painting Walls?

Mobstr: I see it as a direct translation of my street stuff into an indoor environment. I think the body of work can be generalised as a critique of art, attitude and culture, punctuated by some general musings. I called it sex, drugs and painting walls not because it contained any of those three things but simply that it has a good ring to it. Also it summarises nicely what I’ve been up to for the last 12 years.

Photos courtesy of Mobstr

mobstr proves that street art + phone number = been done (but that’s okay)

Check out the above video. It’s the first part of mobstr’s new series, The Number. Earlier this month, I wrote about how Geoff Hargadon has decided to share voicemails that he has acquired as part of his Cash For Your Warhol project. Fauxreel has also put up a phony ad with a phone number. Banksy used phone numbers for Better Out Than In last October. Swampy has a voicemail now too. And of course COST and REVS put a working phone number on their wheatpastes in the 90’s. I think it’s a fun idea. Now, mobstr has joined in.

He painted his phone number at a prominent spot in London, right on top of Old Street station at the Old Street roundabout. To give some sense of this location, it’s a stone’s throw from a few Banksy pieces covered in plexiglass and even more that have been destroyed. It’s where I used to start my street art walking tours. The roundabout is just blocks from the thick of London street art. Actually, the exact spot mobstr painted was host to this domino piece for years. Apparently, it’s now gotten to the point that people are so used to street art around Old Street that it’s entirely expected.

It used to be that a phone number would surprise or confuse people. Even as recently as last week, I’ve heard people say, “I saw those COST and REVS wheatpastes back in the day, but I had no idea what they were.” The voicemails that have been shared from the Cash For Your Warhol project are mostly from callers who are confused or angry about the signs. I haven’t heard of many people calling Swampy’s number (although I definitely encourage you to give it a try). Banksy had to explain the concept on his website.

With The Number, we seem to have hit a critical mass. Phones have been used in street art so much now that people are calling the number ready to perform for whoever is on the other end. They seem to know what’s up. Maybe that’s just because the piece is at Old Street, I’m not sure. But mobstr’s callers definitely become part of the piece in a knowing way that the Cash For Your Warhol callers are not (and voicemails for the other projects that used them haven’t been released).I’m a fan of street art that is innovative, work that pushes boundaries. At least that’s what I like to think. mostr’s piece doesn’t do that, but that turns out to be okay. Now, only because the concept is a somewhat familiar one, a phone number associated with a piece of street art provides an opportunity for a new kind of honest interaction where the caller/viewer is at least partially in on the joke and can participate with the street artist in the completion of the piece.My hat is off to mobstr for once again creating street art that thrives on away from keyboard audience interaction while still having a finished product that looks great online. That’s not easy.

mobstr invites Bethnal Green to have a scribble


I came across this piece by mobstr yesterday in London near the Bethnal Green underground station. From what I found on Instagram, it looks like The Scribble Wall was installed on Wednesday morning and very quickly got covered by passersby by the time I came across it in the early afternoon. This is one of my favorite ad takeovers in a while. In addition to covering an advertisement, mobstr chained four markers to the billboard, allowing anyone to add their voice (although a few of those voices did end up being advertisements themselves). Most people who I saw walking by the billboard didn’t notice it or didn’t care to stop, but a lot of people did stop to take a look or scribble something of their own. I asked two teenage girls who were writing on the board what they thought it was. They said they had no idea, but that they thought it was really cool. I agree.







As a little bonus, I also came across this mobstr piece in Hackney Wick yesterday evening:


Photos by RJ Rushmore

Weekend link-o-rama

Peter Fuss
Peter Fuss

I wish I had time for a weekend…

Photo by Peter Fuss

Weekend link-o-rama

Dart, PC, Curve, Rams, and Sane
Dart, PC, Curve, Rams, and Sane

As I’ve been gearing up for midterms, I’ve missed posting some great outdoor work (and other things) this week.

Photo by Carnagenyc

“The Story” by Mobstr (and an anonymous collaborator)


Mobstr has done it again, dancing a little dance with the buffman for our entertainment. The Story involves essentially the same dance as his search for acceptable shade of grey, except that this time he makes it quite clear what the consequences of his work being buffed will be. The first fame of The Story is above. Enjoy the rest after the jump… Continue reading ““The Story” by Mobstr (and an anonymous collaborator)”