C215 in depth

Photo by r2hox
Photo by r2hox

While researching for my new book Viral Art, I conducted about 50 interviews with artists, curators, photographers and writers. Most were done in person or over Skype, but a handful were conducted via email. Only a handful of what came out in those interviews made it into the book, so now I want to publish a few of those email interviews in full here on Vandalog. In these extended interviews, you can probably see even more clearly than in Viral Art how I unashamedly ask leading questions, and the topics jump around a lot, but hopefully they are still interesting.

To start, we have C215. An abridged version of this interview appears in Viral Art. C215 was one of the street artists that first attracted me to the genre. His stencils peppered the streets of London right as I was discovering street art, and each one blew me away. His trademark style is hard to top for beauty and for capturing great details in just one or two layers.

Photo by _Pek_
Photo by _Pek_

RJ: How do you define street art?
C215: Street art is nothing else but urban poetry that catches someone’s eye. Being a street artist is impossible, because the city itself is the artist. Street art is a collective thing, participative and interactive, extremely linked to web 2.0 culture.

RJ: What was the Underbelly Paris like? How do you describe the Underbelly Project?
C215: For my part, it was an incredible time spent with very good friends. My vision is romantic. I had a nice time with some people Iove, others that I met and then admired after working with them. It was a beautiful collective project, led by beautiful artists.

RJ: Is it important to continue the tradition of illegal graffiti and street art?
C215: Graffiti consists in leaving tracks behind you, street art consists in placing art in the streets. You can do it with authorization, but the poetry of it would not be the same. There is something poetic in taking legal risk just to make your city more beautiful.

RJ: How did you start making art and how did your distinctive style develop?
C215: I began to paint when kid, but my style went strong the night I lost my grandmother. She was everything for me and supported me until her end. For a long time, I have had a borderline personality disorder, and when she disappeared my personality collapsed overnight. I was just lost, not knowing anymore who or where I was. I spent the night cutting a stencil of a homeless person’s face, to express my feelings. I cut it so detailed and with so many bridges that he looked crackled. This became my style for while. This style is now credited to me and imitated around the world, but comes from my self expression and from a very personal story.

Photo by RJ Rushmore
Photo by RJ Rushmore

RJ: Do you find it difficult to adapt your outdoor techniques to indoors? How did you go about it?
C215: I work indoors as little as possible, since I think my work is made for outdoors. I do not use stencils for doing patterns. I do not repeat images. I use them to go smaller than a spraycan cap, so to get details, and to create a proper artwork anywhere, very quick and without authorization. Galleries are white spaces that I find boring to paint in. It’s not new to paint on a white wall. What is new is to paint a nice work somewhere illegally, and spread it immediately to the whole world through internet.

Continue reading “C215 in depth”

Weekend link-o-rama


Back to school on Tuesday. Actually, I’m okay with that. And of course, it means more time blogging because it means more time procrastinating. Here’s some of what we missed this week while Caroline and I were on vacation:

Photo by Ankles

New in The Vandalog Shop – Special edition Underbelly Project book

Rizzoli recently published the official book documenting The Underbelly Project, We Own the Night: The Art of The Underbelly Project. If you haven’t heard of The Underbelly Project, check out my firsthand account. Basically, over 100 artists were taken down to an abandoned subway station beneath New York City to put up artwork and explore hidden depths of the city. Artists involved in the project include Revok, Roa, Anthony Lister, Faile, Ron English, Dan Witz, Gaia, Know Hope, Haze and many others.

In December, a collector’s edition of the book was sold at The Underbelly Project’s show in Miami. Until now, that show was the only place to pick up a copy of this special edition of We Own the Night. The collector’s edition version includes a hardcover copy of the book, nine photographic prints from the project, and comes in a handcrafted and laser-engraved oak box. This package is an edition of 100, plus 10 APs, and a handful were held back in Miami to be sold later. Now, the remaining collector’s editions are available online for the first time exclusively at The Vandalog Shop.

The Underbelly Project is one of the most fascinating projects to ever happen in the street art or graffiti worlds. While there are photos all over the web showing what the project looked liked, reading We Own the Night is just about the only way to get a sense of what it was actually like to participate in The Underbelly Project. I saw The Underbelly Project in the flesh, but hearing other people’s stories shed new light on it even for me. I’m extremely pleased that The Vandalog Shop will be selling the collector’s edition of We Own the Night, giving people who couldn’t make it to Basel Miami a chance to pick up a copy. My copy of We Own the Night was the best thing I’ve received under a Christmas tree in years, and I hope other people will enjoy the book and the photographs as much as I do.

Here are a just a couple of the photographs included in the set:

Photo by Emile Souris
Kid Zoom. Photo by Ian Cox

Other images include work by Roa, Anthony Lister, Skullphone, Kid Zoom, Revok, Ceaze and Jeff Soto.

Only a few of these collector’s editions are remain, and The Vandalog Shop is the only place you’ll find them online. They are available for $250.

We Own the Night is also available in a regular paperback edition.

Photos by Ian Cox, Emile Souris and The Underbelly Project

Weekend link-o-rama: Miami edition

Know Hope for Primary Flight and Living Walls in Miami

In case you’d like to be in Miami right now for Art Basel Miami and the associated craziness of the season, but you’re stuck at home like me, here’s a small segment of what we’re missing (focusing on indoor events because a lot of the murals are still in progress):

Photo by Ian Cox

Preview of The Underbelly Show (and NEW LOCATION)

The Eternal Infancy of Art by Ron English for The Underbelly Miami

On Monday, The Underbelly Project announced two big things: 1. They did a Paris version of The Underbelly Project, which we’ll have more about soon, but The Huffington Post has info on for now; and 2. They’ve changed the location of The Underbelly Show opening this week in Miami to 78 NW 25th Street in Wynwood. That, and an exclusive preview of that show, will be the focus of today’s Underbelly post.

The Underbelly Show may be the new kid on the block during Miami Art Basel, but it has arrived as a force to be reckoned with. It will featuring brand new work from over 30 artists who participated in the New York and Paris Underbelly Projects, as well as a host of other installations and events. This is not just another gallery show during a busy week. It’s an experience. Starting with the RSVP-only opening party on Tuesday, Thursday will see a Secret Wars battle, Friday the space opens to the general public and includes the launch of a limited edition version of The Underbelly Project’s book We Own the Night, which won’t be on sale in stores until next year. And that’s just the stuff I can tell you about. I can’t even guess at what else the Underbelly crew have got planned, but this is definitely the one must-see thing in Miami this week.

While setting up the show at the original location on Collins Avenue this week, the team realized the amount of art and their vision was too big for that space, so they moved to a warehouse in Wynwood at 78 NW 25th Street.

In a rare statement, the usually silent Workhorse told Vandalog:

The scope of the Underbelly Miami show grew larger than we had expected. Originally our idea for the location in South Beach was to showcase selected works in a high traffic area so as many people could see it as possible. As the works started to come in, we realized that we were going to run out of wall space. One of the Swoon pieces is 21 feet wide by 13 feet tall. The L’atlas piece is nearly 12 feet tall. We have over 70 pieces of work and most all of them are 4×6 feet and larger. The work is massive. So we began to look for additional space and realized it was best to move the show to Wynwood so that we could feature the works without being crowded and crammed onto the walls.

Undergound Brooklyn by Skewville for The Underbelly Miami

Photos courtesy of The Underbelly Project

Secret Wars at Underbelly Miami

UPDATE – LOCATION CHANGE: The Underbelly Show has moved to 78 NW 25th Street in Wynwood, Miami to accommodate the large scale of the artwork in this show. The address on this flyer is WRONG.

The Secret Wars painting battle series will be making its way to Miami for this year’s Basel insanity. Secret Wars is a team paint battle where two teams are given 90 minutes to simultaneously paint two walls live in front of a crowd of cheering and partying spectators. Secret Wars Miami is going to take place on December 1st at The Underbelly Show with Chaz (of The London Police), Wayne Horse and Mr. K on one team and Tristan Eaton, Buff Monster and Kano on the other.

Underbelly resurfaces: The Underbelly Show

Surge, Gaia, Stormie, Remi/Rough and in The Underbelly Project

UPDATE – LOCATION CHANGE: The Underbelly Show has moved to 78 NW 25th Street in Wynwood, Miami to accommodate the large scale of the artwork in this show.

The Underbelly Project is back. Last year, I posted a lot about the project where 103 artists from around the world secretly painted an abandoned/half-completed New York City subway station. After that initial burst of press here and around the web, The Underbelly Project organizers stayed silent. With only occasional vague tweets from a mysterious twitter account and the appearance on Amazon of an upcoming book about the project. Yesterday though, The Underbelly Project announced that they will be participating in this year’s Basel Miami Week madness with a pop-up gallery in South Beach Wynwood.

The organizers of The Underbelly Project and The Underbelly Show, Workhorse and PAC, have this to say about the show:

Workhorse: The New York Underbelly was an important chapter for us, but the story hadn’t been comprehensively told. The Underbelly Miami show gives us a chance to present the broad scope of documentation – Videos, photos, time-lapses and first hand accounts. The project is about more than just artwork. This show gives us a chance to show the people and the environment behind the artwork.

PAC: While the experience each artist had in their expedition underground can never be captured, it is my hope that this show will highlight some of the trials and tribulations associated with urban art taking place in the remote corners of our cities. Too often the practice of making art in unconventional venues remains shrouded in mystery and I hope this exhibition will shine a faint light on those artists who risk their safety to find alternative ways to create and be a part of the cities they live in.

35 of the 103 artists from The Underbelly Project will be exhibiting art in The Underbelly Show, plus video and still footage of the artists at work in the tunnel. Here’s the full line-up: Faile, Dabs & Myla, TrustoCorp, Aiko, Rone, Revok, Ron English, Jeff Soto, Mark Jenkins, Anthony Lister, Logan Hicks, Lucy McLauchlan, M-City, Kid Zoom, Haze, Saber, Meggs, Jim & Tina Darling, The London Police, Sheone, Skewville, Jeff Stark, Jordan Seiler, Jason Eppink and I AM, Dan Witz, Specter, Ripo, MoMo, Remi/Rough, Stormie Mills, Swoon, Know Hope, Skullphone, L’Atlas, Roa, Surge, Gaia, Michael De Feo, Joe Iurato, Love Me, Adam 5100, and Chris Stain.

For this show, the space will be transformed into an environment imitating the tunnel where The Underbelly Project took place, right down to playing sounds recorded in the station while The Underbelly Project was happening.

If you absolutely cannot wait until February to get We Own The Night, the book documenting The Underbelly Project, a limited number will be available at The Underbelly Show in a box set with 9 photographic prints and the book all contained in a handcrafted oak box. Additionally, you will be able to your book signed by the artists participating in The Underbelly Show.

The Underbelly Show will take place at 2200 Collins Avenue, South Beach, Miami 78 NW 25th Street, Wynwood, Miami. There will be a private opening on November 30th, and the space will be open to the general public December 2nd-5th, with a general opening on the 2nd from 8-10pm.

Photo by RJ Rushmore

Weekend link-o-rama

Sticker by Hieronymus

Wow. It’s actually Friday night already? This week went by really fast. I think I’ve been sleeping too much. Well, while I was sleeping, these things nearly slipped me by:

The week’s not up yet though, and I’ve committed to doing at least one useful thing before it is: Tomorrow I’m going to try using my kitchen for the first time since going to university. Wish me luck…

Photo by LoisInWonderland

NYC officials will leave Underbelly Project (relatively) intact

The NYTimes recently had another article updating people on the aftermath of The Underbelly Project. Apparently, the NYC government doesn’t intend to paint over the work:

While the police are taking a hard line on keeping people away — “This is not an art gallery; this is completely illegal,” one officer said — the paintings in what the artists called the Underbelly Project are likely to live on. Subway officials said they had no plans to paint over the artwork, even if they sincerely hoped nobody ever got to see it again.

“We have no intention of disturbing the works,” said Deirdre Parker, a spokeswoman for New York City Transit.

Ms. Parker noted that the fiscally challenged transit agency would not want to devote resources to restoring a space almost entirely unseen by the riding public. “It’s in complete darkness and not really at all visible to anyone,” she said.

Of course, graffiti writers have already tagged over a good deal of the station…

Photo by RJ Rushmore

The Underbelly Project: The aftermath, one week in

Surge. Photo by RJ

It’s barely been one week since The Underbelly Project was revealed across the web and in print. In my first post about the project, I wrote:

When the last artist finished painting the last wall, Workhorse and PAC made access to The Underbelly Project nearly impossible by removing the entrance. Even if any of us wanted to go back (and I do), even if we could remember how to get there (and I don’t), we can’t. Nobody can. For now, The Underbelly Project has become a time capsule of street art, somewhere in the depths of New York City.

Well I guess getting to the station wasn’t made as difficult as had been expected, because it took less than a day for the station’s location to hit the web and for people to attempt to gain access themselves. Naturally, some of the first people to reach the station were haters with paint in hand. They splashed some of the paintings and knocked over sculptures. So much for the station becoming a time capsule of street art. Here’s some of the damage:

Photo by paulbesteves

That’s street art and graffiti. It goes away. Maybe it was naive of me to think that The Underbelly Project would be any different.

But not everybody trying to visit the station has been successful. Apparently, a number of reddit users have been arrested by NYPD for trying to access the station and spent the night in jail. I hope I don’t sound like asshole by saying “I saw this amazing thing in person, now you should see it in photographs,” but that’s exactly what I’m going to suggest to anybody thinking about visiting The Underbelly Project. Especially anytime soon. It’s just going to be a honeypot for police with cops stationed there most nights to make easy arrests. And, more importantly, it’s dangerous. The LTV Squad, a team of NY urban explorers, explains:

Don’t go into NYC subway tunnels. It’s bad idea. Tunnels are confined spaces where injury and death are readily possible. The photos of this project are all over the internet. People continue to send us these photos. They are not hard to find. If you want to see the art, do so from your own home.

Photos by RJ Rushmore and paulbesteves