Tour in the Bay with Troy Lovegates

Zio Zegler. San Francisco, SoMa.

“Travel broadens the mind.” Well I really hope that’s true! I had the chance to spend a few days in the Bay area, which gave me another opportunity to continue my favorite activity: urban exploration. As a European, it’s a bit risky to show my own vision of America’s urban environment, and express feelings that could be misunderstood. This time, I had the chance to be guided through San Francisco and Oakland by one of the most talented Canadian street artists, Troy Lovegates, based in San Francisco for the last 2 years, and so have my point of view challenged by an insider of the Bay Area art scene. We left SF for Oakland, went through West Oakland, playground of graffiti writers, reached downtown, with its big murals, passed by Athen B. gallery (where Lovegates was showing in a collaborative group exhibition with Zio Zegler, Jaz and EverSiempre), and ended up in Chinatown. I unfortunately do not have photos of Lovegates’ pieces, as his street art pieces are usually buffed or cleaned super fast. And he still has not had the opportunity to legally paint a wall in the Bay area. But he does not despair! Lovegates had to wait years before getting a wall in Montreal, and finally managed to paint 2 murals very late after he left Montreal for Toronto…

Cannon Dill. Oakland.

Continue reading “Tour in the Bay with Troy Lovegates”

Tim Hans shoots… Zio Ziegler and Never

Zio and Never

One afternoon this past summer, Tim Hans went up to a Brooklyn rooftop and found a bunch of artists having fun and painting together. In November, that rooftop became associated with a horrible tragedy. While the murders that occurred nearby have nothing to do with the art that was painted there, it seems important to acknowledge how the space changed after these photos were taken. At the time, this rooftop was one of the most interesting and fun spaces for artists to paint in New York City, and Tim’s came way with some beautiful photos, so it seemed a shame let tragedy define that space and leave these images locked away. Two of the artists that Tim photographed on that rooftop were Never and Zio Ziegler, who were working on a collaborative piece. In our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim, and I asked Zio and Never the same set of questions over email.

RJ: How did you end up collaborating that day?

Never: The dialogue went something like this…
Zio: Ayo, I’m in Brooklyn with my homey Ian Ross. I like your SHIT, wanna hang out?
Never: Werd, I like your SHIT too. We should get a hotel, here’s my number…Sext me.  (We meet in person for the first time) Never: So what kind of SHIT brings you to NY?
Zio: I painted some SHIT on the side of a surf shop in Williamsburg.
Never: Werd, got any scrap cans? Some people are hanging out and painting some SHIT on a rooftop nearby right now. Wanna go?
Zio: SHIT yeah, Lets do it!

Zio: I’ve admired Nev’s work for a while, and we have a bunch of mutual friends, so I gave him a shout when I was in NY. I had painted the side of Pilgrim, and despite having food poisoning wanted to make the most of the NYC trip, and paint as many spots as possible. We met up in Bushwick, and started to look for walls, ended up on a rooftop and jammed out.

RJ: Do you usually like collaborating on murals?

Never: I do like collaborating on murals but I’m pretty selective of who I do that with. I don’t really consider what we did that day a collaboration as there wasn’t really any head-butting involved. I just did the same SHIT I always do and he put a skull under it. It was more of a quick little jam session than anything. At some point we intend to do a for real collabo. We’re both busy dudes, but we’ll make it happen at some point. And when we do, our highly acclaimed PR team will ensure that it’s picked up by every news outlet in existence. Just you fucking wait.

Zio: I don’t collab a lot, but when I do its because I really admire the other artists process and work. The piece and the conversation go in parallel and when that happens, it’s all good.

RJ: How does working with another artist change your own process?

Never: It forces you to try out different techniques than your own and helps you work outside of your usual comfort zone.

Zio: It allows me to expand my perspective, and see more possibilities in creating my pieces.

RJ: How have the events that took place so nearby your mural affected you or how you think of that piece?

Never: The work I did on that roof has nothing to do with the horrible event that happened up there several months after. I’m thankful I got to meet Icy and Sot and they were so kind to invite us to paint with them. More so, I’m thankful those two are still here with us today. It was a fun day with good company, that’s all there is to it.

Zio: The work has nothing at all to do with that terrible event, It’s awful and my heart goes out to everyone effected by that tragedy.

RJ: Which of you is cooler?

Never: Zio has more followers on Instagram than I do so he’s definitely cooler.

Zio: Never for sure, he’s got more friends on myspace.

Photo by Tim Hans

Weekend link-o-rama

Unit 12, maybe. Photo by Dani Mozeson.
Unit 12 or Unit 112, maybe?

This link-o-rama is super helpful for me, because all week I’ve been working on my upcoming ebook instead of blogging. Hopefully the ebook will be out in November… Anyways, links:

  • I love that this show at LeQuiVive Gallery reframes a certain kind of work that often gets lumped in with street art or urban art as Neu Folk Revival, which describes the work much better than calling it street art or urban art or low-brow art. Some real talent in this show: Doodles, Troy Lovegates, Cannon Dill, ghostpatrol, Zio Ziegler, Daryll Peirce, Justin Lovato… It opens next month.
  • This piece by Part2ism needs to be seen. And look closely. That’s not just paint on the wall. Very interesting. I am glad to see Part2ism on the streets again, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Once again, he has shown that he is ahead of the rest of us. This piece doesn’t look like graffiti. It doesn’t look like street art. It looks like art on the street, and that’s much too rare.Swampy has relaunched his website and posted a video diary sort of thing. I’m very curious what people think about it. Have a look and let me know.Check out this concept from Jadikan-LP: Art that only exists within Google Maps. Click the link. Explore the room. I normally hate lightpainting or “light graffiti,” but I absolutely love this piece. As far as I’m concerned, the internet is a public space and Jadikan-LP has invaded it with artwork, so this project is street art.
  • CDH wrote a really fascinating article in Art Monthly Australia about the commodification of street art. While I don’t agree with him entirely, I think it’s a must-read because at least it sparks some thoughts. It’s one of the best-written critiques I’ve read of the capitalistic nature of contemporary street art. Over on Invurt, they have posted CDH’s article as well as a response by E.L.K. (who CDH calls out in his critique). In his article, CDH called out E.L.K. for using stencils with so many layers that the work isn’t really street anymore, since stencils were initially used for being quick and a piece with 20 layers isn’t going to be quick. It’s just going to look technically interesting. Well, E.L.K. shot back in his response and made himself look like an idiot and seemingly declaring that all conceptual street art and graffiti is crap. There were arguments he could have made to defend complex stenciling or critique other points of CDH’s article, but instead E.L.K. mostly just attacked CDH as an artist. Anyway, definitely read both the original article and the response over at Invurt. The comments on the response are interesting as well.

Photo by Dani Mozeson

Feral Child, Zio Ziegler and Cannon Dill collaborate

Click to view large
Cannon Dill on the left, Zio Ziegler on the right, with Feral Child’s background. Click to view large.

Feral Child, Cannon Dill, and Zio Ziegler have been working together recently on some walls in Oakland and San Fransisco, California. The three of them seem to make a great combo, and I don’t think I’d seen Cannon Dill’s work before, so I’m glad Feral Child has introduced me to the work of such a skillful painter. Definitely make sure to check out all of these walls in large by clicking on the image.

Click to view large
Cannon Dill on the left, Zio Ziegler on the right, with Feral Child’s background. Click to view large.
Zio Ziegler on the left, Cannon Dill on the right, with Feral Child’s background. Click to view large.

Introducing Zio Ziegler


Zio Ziegler is one of those artists who I’ve admired for a while, but not given nearly enough attention to on Vandalog. Actually, I’ve hardly mentioned him at all. And maybe it’s good that I didn’t because even though he’s based in SF, I thought he was based in LA. So, to make up for all that, I thought I’d do a quick interview with him to try to get the facts straight. So here’s Zio…


RJ: How did you get into painting murals?

Zio: I grew up fascinated by graffiti, wild style stuff especially, down to looking at the color layering and the black books and hand styles- and I began to think about art as a distinct intuitive mark rather than a representational struggle. A mark that searched for individualism and aimed to keep the viewer’s eyes plastered to it, that reflected the surrounding culture through osmosis, rather than photo realism. Work that had vast scale but also audacity, pieces on bridges and billboards, and with this as my fascination I began translating my drawings from the page on to on hats, shoes and shirts- with paint pens and sharpies- for me the billboard and the accessibility found its form in clothing. Then I began to paint canvas and on wood, and mixing up the gallery formula by sometimes leaving these pieces in public areas so they could find a home. At this point, I was really searching for the same things in my own work that had initially inspired my making. I was a Junior in college and I was frequenting the same popular breakfast place in Providence RI multiple days a week, The Brickway Cafe. It had what looked like giant primary color sponge paintings all over the walls. So I figured why not ask if I could paint them? My canvases where getting larger and larger, so I figured a trade for free pancakes couldn’t hurt. It took about a month, working from after my classes ended in the evening until way into the morning. The mistake I made was to use my small brushes and thinking of the wall the same way I thought of a canvas. But it was an awesome experience, and I’ll be forever grateful for the free pancakes and wall space. After that, I was addicted to gigantism. The next mural I started, was 20′ by 8′ and it was incredibly intricate as well. About three weeks into painting this, day in and day out- I grabbed a can of spray paint out of frustration, and decided to paint in an illustrative black and white style on the opposing wall. The style was more akin to what I had been doing in small drawings, in the margins of my notes, but somehow it came out as the missing link in what I had been searching for in murals. They where the same lines that had initially found their ways onto clothing, and into my black books, but it took the process of re-learning that it was the intuitive that is beautiful. It was fluid and fast- allowed me to make “mistakes” that I had to quickly adapt and learn from, errors that rather than having to start over, showed me a new way of viewing the form. And since then, I’ve been making these intuitive mistakes on a larger and larger scale.


RJ: Many young artists who do street art or even just legal murals use pseudonyms, but you’ve always gone by your full name. Why?

Zio: Because I do not view painting, as long as it’s respectful, as illegal. Without art an urban atmosphere looses it’s soul, so I might as well stand behind my pieces with my identity.

Many of the walls I paint are legal, and I’ve found that if you just ask if you can paint many people say yes. So while I was out there in the middle of the day painting legals, I began to study the public’s reaction. With the movement graffiti and street art becoming somewhat mainstream and accepted by the fine art world, no one quite knows what is legal or illegal anymore within reason. You could hypothetically paint a wall directly across from the police station in the Mission in SF, in broad daylight and people would come pat you on the back as long as you looked like you where supposed to be there. It’s the veneer of legality that matters, It’s being respectful, painting on temporary walls or ones marred by careless tags or buff paint, and looking like it’s a commission. The public views it as a legal mural because its figurative rather than letter oriented, and legal because its often 10am on a Sunday. I tend to keep these kind of murals to temporary wooden walls, and just paint directly over the posters and advertisements that previously covered it- and in this way the piece itself is ephemeral and doesn’t “damage” anything should the owner of the property not like it. But I think in many ways it is a public service, people see that you love your surroundings and inspire them to do the same. It’s a rest from the bombarding of ads, and provides something that is thought provoking for the passer by. I actually received a gracious thank you tweet for one of these murals, which was as much of a surprise to me, as my mural must have been to them.


RJ: Does your work generally tell a story or have some sort of hidden meaning, or is it more about getting out random images that are in your head?

Zio: Yes, my work is allegorical. However it’s an allegory that makes more and more sense as the piece finds it’s form. It’s not preconceived- in many ways it’s entirely subconscious. I tend to use the same symbolism time and time again, but by changing the context and scale it assumes a different meaning. The titles often hint at the story behind the piece, or as a thread that the viewer can unwind until the metaphor is clear. I’m fascinated by primitive painting and sculpture- work that simplifies the human condition into narrative on a wall, and so I think in many ways I try to do the same thing. The figures first and foremost react to the size of the wall, the neighborhood that It’s in, and then as the scene begins to build, I sometimes will step back and understand what I’ve made. I try to take my mind out of the painting as much as possible by making it fast and gestural. To this point I’ve always finished murals in one sitting, that way for me they preserve the honesty of expression that tells a clear story.


Photos courtesy of Zio Ziegler

Weekend link-o-rama


A very late link-o-rama, but hey, Sunday is still the weekend.

Photo by Nychos