Has street art “sold out and gentrified our cities”?

The entrance to Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida. Photo by Osseous.
The entrance to Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida. Photo by Osseous.

Earlier this week, the online street art community was abuzz about an article by Rafael Schacter for The Conversation, From dissident to decorative: why street art sold out and gentrified our cities. Between the time I left my apartment on Monday morning and when I arrived at work half an hour later, it seemed like a dozen of my friends had shared the article or reacted to it in some way.

Schacter has captured a feeling about street art and contemporary muralism, a nagging fear really, that seems to have been bubbling just beneath the surface for a while now. Basically, Schacter argues that street art isn’t rebellious anymore. Rather, that it’s most notable form is as a tool used by corporations to spur gentrification. Agree or disagree, the article is a must-read.

Rather than go on my own rant responding to Schacter like I would usually do, I reached out to some of the biggest names in street art and muralism for their reactions. A few of them answered. The prompt was pretty open-ended, basically just to share some thoughts after reading the article. Here’s what Buff Monster, Living Walls’ Monica Campana, 1xRun’s Jesse Cory, Jeffrey Deitch, Libray Street Collective’s Matt Eaton, Tristan Eaton, John Fekner, Gaia, Ganzeer, Carlo McCormick, The Painted Desert Project’s Chip Thomas, Jessie Unterhalter, Vexta, and Wall Therapy’s Ian Wilson had to say (with emphasis added)…

Continue reading “Has street art “sold out and gentrified our cities”?”

How many street artists can Hyundai rip off in 30 seconds?

Screenshot from the Hyundai ad

Major hat tip to Ian Cox for coming across this one, as well as Caroline Caldwell for alerting me to Ian’s find and for research help.

A car commercial currently airing on UK television for the Hyundai i20 appears to steal the work of at least half a dozen street artists in just 30 seconds. Here’s the ad:

I guess this just goes to show you what advertising executives mean by “inspiration”.

How many stolen pieces can you spot? Spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading “How many street artists can Hyundai rip off in 30 seconds?”

HOTTEA makes a brief stop in Little Italy

HotTea_LISA_866 copy

HOTTEA stopped by Little Italy last week for a last-minute piece with The L.I.S.A. Project NYC. His piece is right at the heart of our little street art murals, on Mulberry between Canal and Hester streets, near work by Ron English, Tristan Eaton, Bishop203 & Pebbles and a large collaborative mural done through Secret Walls. Since he works with yarn, HOTTEA was able to hit up a fence where I guess we otherwise couldn’t really install any art. Here are some shots of the piece coming together:








Photos by Rey Rosa for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC

Live painting, new murals and music in Little Italy this Saturday


As I mentioned yesterday, this Saturday we’re holding a party outdoors in Little Italy. Presented by Wix.com, the party is to celebrate all the murals that myself and others in The L.I.S.A. Project NYC have been organizing in Little Italy, particularly Tristan Eaton’s brand new Liberty mural. The party is also a chance to watch a brand new mural painted live as part of a Secret Walls competition.

I’m especially pumped for Secret Walls. Tristan Eaton and Jay Edlin aka J.SON/TERROR161 will be judging as Bishop203, Epic, SeeOne and Meres face off against Greg Mishka, L’Amour Supreme, Buff Monster and Jon Burgerman in an 90-minute live painting session just below Ron English’s Temper Tot mural.

So, come by Mulberry Street this Saturday afternoon for some art, drinks and music.

More info about the party here.

Flyer courtesy of The L.I.S.A. Project NYC

Tristan Eaton’s “Liberty” mural in Little Italy

Liberty 2

Earlier this week, Tristan Eaton completed this mural, titled Liberty, in Little Italy in New York City. Liberty is just across the street from Ron English’s Temper Tot mural from last October. I helped a little bit with organizing Tristan’s mural as part of my work with Wayne Rada at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, but this mural had been in the works since before I got involved or The L.I.S.A. Project even existed, and it was the planning of this mural that resulted in the creation of The L.I.S.A. Project. I am so happy to finally see Liberty up on the wall, visible from Mulberry Street and Canal Street, adding something really special to the area. From the moment I saw Tristan’s first mock-up, I thought, “This is going to be iconic,” but Tristan has really outdone himself. Liberty is beautiful and iconic, but it really is Tristan’s interpretation of the Statue of Liberty and American ideals, rather than just a straightforward depiction of an already-iconic image.

If you want to check out the mural in person, I suggest coming down to Little Italy on Saturday afternoon when we’ll have five hours of events planned around Liberty and the other murals on Mulberry Street, including the live painting of a new piece as part of a Secret Walls competition. Bishop203, Epic, SeeOne and Meres will be competing against Greg Mishka, L’Amour Supreme, Buff Monster and Jon Burgerman, with Jay Edlin aka Terro161 aka J.SON (author of the book Graffiti 365) and Tristan Eaton as judges. More info on the Facebook event page.

Lastly, I want to thank Wix.com and all the individual supporters who have sponsored the mural. Hopefully, this is just part one of two, with Tristan adding Justice to Mulberry Street soon.


Photos courtesy of The L.I.S.A. Project NYC

Tristan Eaton paints Audrey Hepburn in Little Italy


One of the things that I just have to bring up despite it happening in August while we were only posting illegal work is Tristan Eaton‘s portrait of Audrey Hepburn. It was painted last month in New York’s Little Italy as part of The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, a mural program that I help to organize along with Wayne Rada. Tristan painted this piece at Caffe Roma on the corner of Mulberry and Broome.


Ripping away at Hepburn’s flawless Hollywood exterior, Tristan finds a combination of the natural world and hollow advertising. Beneath the makeup and the hairdo, Hepburn is only human, but today we as humans are so surrounded by advertising at every turn that it becomes a part of us. We like Coke better than Pepsi, not because it tastes better but because Coca Cola is a part of our identity. And Hepburn, just like the rest of us, is made up of brands just as much as she is made up of natural elements. For me, the best artists are those who can make something that addresses both the “at a glance” audience who just want to walk by a piece and smile, maybe stop and take a photo if they have a moment, and the audience who search for a deeper meaning and enjoy spending time with an artwork, looking at it as more than just decoration. It’s very difficult to please both of those audiences simultaneously, but Tristan does it with this mural.

Plus, just have a look at the #littleitaly hashtag next time you’re on Instagram. People love photographing this piece.

Photos by Wayne Rada

Tim Hans shoots… Tristan Eaton


For the second artist in our Tim Hans shoots… series, where photographer Tim Hans takes photo-portraits of street artists and we pair them with interviews with those artists, Tim met up with artist and designer Tristan Eaton.

Caroline: At what point were you like ‘screw art school’?

Tristan: I dropped out of SVA after my Junior year because I couldn’t afford to enroll again. At that point I had no choice but to say fuck you, I’m gonna do it on my own. I started doing illustration work and showing in galleries when I was 17, before I started college anyway, so I had an inflated sense of confidence. The next 4 years of broke life humbled me, but I never stopped learning and making art no matter how poor I was.


C: When you told relatives or family friends that you were a “toy designer” how did you explain what that meant?

T: That never happened. I never set out to do toy design, nor have I ever fully identified as one. By freak chance, I designed some toys for Fisher Price when i was 18, then later helped start Kidrobot and designed a lot of toys. But it was never my profession or my main focus. Any commercial work, toy design work etc., I’ve ever done has been a distraction or separate from my work as an artist. I’m an artist first, everything else is second.

C: There are some incredible painted/modified Dunny’s and Munny’s out there, but I’m curious if you’ve ever seen ones that were so bizarre or bad that you were like “don’t put my name with that”.

T: Of course! But that doesn’t matter. The fact that we’ve given people inspiration to be creative is the whole point. I’ve met accountants, mail men and even cops who paint Dunnies and Munnies. All of them didn’t see themselves as artists until they started customizing toys. That’s amazing to me. On the collector side, a lot of toy collectors graduate into collecting prints and paintings by many of the Dunny / Munny artists. It’s become an amazing platform for discovering artists and even launching careers in some cases.


C: If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only have one of the following things, which would you choose between a sketchbook with a marker, 3 buckets of house paint, or a large amount of play-dough?

T: Sketchbook & marker!

C: How was it celebrating KidRobot’s 10th anniversary?

T: Awesome. My time at Kidrobot feels like a lifetime ago, but it’s amazing to see how far it’s come. I’m very proud of it’s legacy.

C: What are you working on now?

T: Right now I’m just working on paintings and mural work. I do a few commercial projects here and there to pay bills, but I’m really trying to get better as a painter! It’s hard, but it’s the most rewarding thing in my life.


Photos by Tim Hans

Weekend link-o-rama

Zéh Palito and Tosko

It is time for me to get a reasonable number of hours of sleep. Until I have to get up in the morning. Here’s what we didn’t get to write about on Vandalog this week:

Photo by Zéh Palito

Tristan Eaton at work in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

One of our favorite walls in Williamsburg is the one fashioned by Tristan Eaton on Fillmore Street off Roebling. For the past few days, he’s been back on Roebling bringing his stylish visual rhythms once more to NYC before leaving for the West Coast. Lenny Collado – my fellow street art and graffiti aficionado – has been busily documenting the work in progress:

And here’s a close-up of Eaton’s riveting rendition of Mickey Mouse spray-painted onto a board that will surface soon in Brooklyn:

Photos by Lenny Collado

The Boneyard Project


The Boneyard Project at the Pima Art & Space Museum in Tucson looks absolutely fantastic. Saner, Faile, Bast, Aiko, Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton, Nunca, Futura, Retna and many other artists have been brought together by Eric Firestone Gallery to paint old airplanes and airplane parts. Of course, the full-sized planes look to be the most impressive parts of the show. Just imagine watching Nunca’s plane, shown above, landing at your local airport. The Boneyard Project is on display at the museum through May 31st. For more photos of the show, check Arrested Motion and The Flop Box


Photos courtesy of Arrested Motion