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.

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Shepard Fairey on Snowden and Obama

July 7th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »


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

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

June 11th, 2013 | By | No Comments »


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.




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 »


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 »

“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 »

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.




Photos courtesy of Logan Hicks

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

Staying elusive in the streets

February 20th, 2013 | By | 10 Comments »

Banksy. Photo by Klara Kim.

Being an elusive figure in the graffiti/street art world is slowly becoming obsolete. Artists find themselves making the transition from anonymity to the limelight, for what many think is solely for profit. The proliferation of social media has amplified the audience of street art, and led to increased exposure and opportunities for artists. But what motivates street artists to step away from their elusive lifestyles?

Recently, it seems many graffiti writers have cast away their incognito identities and made the transition towards becoming legitimate artists. What was once considered an act of vandalism is now commissioned by brands and displayed in art galleries around the world. But in order to market themselves as legitimate, recognizable artists they need to step away from their personas and present themselves not as vandals, but as artists.

At one point, street artists in question would mask their voices and hide their faces behind a blurred out lens in order to keep their identities hidden to the general public during interviews. Now, all that smoke and mirrors are gone. Personally, I used to love D*Face. He was strictly recognized by his moniker and nothing else, with his face always blurred during interviews. Then, seemingly overnight, it all changed. He began to create work and appear in interviews under his real name. Suddenly, D*Face became Dean Stockton. His work became mild and denotative. His mythical qualities as an artist were diminished. He just didn’t seem as interesting.

So why make that transition? Why not stay hidden and attempt to make a living while staying private? Artists such as Kaws and Shepard Fairey could easily have stayed elusive, but now they’re the biggest names in the street art world. When Kaws started hijacking billboards and bus shelter ads, no one knew who he was. They only knew him by his name. Now he’s making vinyl toys, taking part in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and getting interviewed by Pharrell Williams. Similar tale with Fairey: he started out pasting up stickers around his local skate park, nobody knew what Obey meant, but it was everywhere, so it must have been important. Fairey stepped out of the shadows and now, a decade later has his own clothing line and his face is one of the most recognizable in the street art world. Why? Artists realize that in order to market their art, they need to market their persona first. Is this the process of selling out?

But then there are the ones that stay elusive, the purists of the street art world, artists like Dain and Bäst. Born and raised in Brooklyn, the elusive Dain creates sublime works of art the merges old Hollywood glam with new age colors in their composition. This, along with his roots in graffiti, creates a gritty yet delicate street art style that is all his own. There was a weird video that came out a while back about Dain, starring someone other than Dain portraying him. It followed around an old guy as he talked about his life and art and all of his inspirations while answering questions from the camera man. At this point, we know that Dain isn’t really the old man (notice his pasting skills), but one can only assume that the video was meant as a marketing tool, for people to get on the Dain bandwagon and spread his name out to the public without ever being seen. But apart from that video, Dain has never really been a public artist but his works will always be deemed as some of the best of our generation.

Dain. Photo by Sabeth718.

Dain. Photo by Sabeth718.

Bäst plays his part really well. Brooklyn-based artist Bäst has been wheat-pasting throughout New York’s urban landscape for over a decade now. Bäst has remained an elusive character that has rarely been seen in public and whose very existence has been debated. There are very few video interviews where you can hear Bäst talk. The only interview that comes to mind was for the Deluxx Fluxx collaboration with Faile (which is, in my opinion, one of the best street art based collaboration to have ever happened). Bäst manages to frequently collaborate with Faile, who are not anonymous artists, but apart from that, he’s a pretty elusive guy that keeps producing on a consistent basis. Sure, he had this weird, super small scale collaboration with an olive oil company, and the Marc Jacobs collaboration which confused pretty much everybody, since his art being displayed on a sweater for a highly lucrative brand could be seen as an uncharacteristic “sell out” move, but apart from that, he’s always stayed true to form and just stuck to street art.

I bring up Bäst and Dain not only because of the elusive nature, but because they are in fact brothers. One can only assume that some sort of pact was made between them to stay pretty much anonymous to most social groupings. Sure they might have ulterior motives, but as long as they stay elusive, we’ll really never know.

Bast. Photo by Sabeth718.

Bäst. Photo by Sabeth718.

And of course, one has to mention Banksy or as we know him now, most likely Robin Gunningham. Regardless of his moniker, he helped cement street art’s place in the established art world. Street art fans will forever have a love/hate relationship with Banksy. At this point, his work can come off as banal and obvious, but the fact that his identity was questioned for so long, in our surveillance culture, is pretty significant. He got his art up in the Met, or someone posing as him did. He got in and out of Disneyland without getting caught. Banksy’s evasiveness lends him a mystique and fascination, but he still manages to profit from his art.

These are the kind of question that people ask themselves when artists stay anonymous. We question everything about them, not knowing what they’ll do next. Suspense and curiosity will always play a part in their persona. Their anonymity is what keeps us interested; it plays a part in how we perceive them. Take these qualities away, and we realize that these artists are just like the rest. Would Banksy of reached this kind of popularity if he was just Robin Gunningham all along? Of course not. But he’s also a unique case; it’s hard to imagine a street artist will ever achieve what he has in our life time. So why stay elusive? Well, I guess it’s a question at the core of street art. Artists are supposed to be a hooded, hidden characters putting art up illegally, leading people to ask questions. How did it get there? Who did it? Why did they do it? When it comes to people like Kaws and Shepard Fairey, they answer these questions in the interviews that they partake in. But for others, maybe we’ll never know.

Photos By sabeth718 and Klara Kim

Category: Guest Posts, Random | Tags: , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

February 1st, 2013 | By | 2 Comments »


Sorry I missed the link-o-rama last week. Was having a fantastic birthday in NYC. Thanks to everyone who came out to say hello.

  • I just picked up the recent Troy Lovegates book (now sold out), and I wish I could pick up this print as well. Absolutely beautiful stuff.
  • Nice little Pink Floyd-themed stencil by Plastic Jesus.
  • Interesting JR-esque posters in UK mines.
  • Philippe Baudelocque in Paris.
  • Judith Supine on being bored with street art.
  • Leon Reid IV’s latest sculpture addresses the crushing personal debt of so many Americans.
  • Tova Lobatz curated a show at 941 Geary with Vhils, How and Nosm, Sten and Lex, and others.
  • Shepard Fairey released some prints using diamond dust, which is quite interesting. As the press release says, “Perhaps most famously used by Andy Warhol, who understood perfectly how to convey a message, Diamond Dust was used to add glamour, transforming ordinary images into coveted objects. The material aligns with Shepard’s work and interest in the seduction of advertising and consumerism. Diamond Dust, literally and metaphorically is superficial, applied to the surface of the print, the luminous effect is both beautiful and alluring.” But it’s one of those things that just gets me thinking about how the art world, much like capitalism, seems so good at absorbing critique and spitting at back out as product. People love the meaningless OBEY icon, so Shepard sells it. Shepard needs to make more product to continue selling to this market he has created, so he takes an old design (or a slight variant, I’m not positive), and adds meaningless diamond dust to it and sells it as something new. The best critiques participate in the system which they critique, but that’s a risky game to play. Of course, I say all this with a print by Shepard hanging on my wall.
  • OldWalls is a project where the photographer took photos of graffiti in the early 1990’s and recently returned to those spots to take the exact same shots, and then each matching photo is displayed next to its counterpart.
  • Artnet’s latest street art and graffiti auction has a handful of interesting pieces (Artnet is a sponsor of Vandalog btw). Here are my favorites:

Photos by Luna Park

Category: Auctions, Books / Magazines, Gallery/Museum Shows, Interview, Photos, Print Release, Products, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,