Monday, November 30, 2009

In The Headlines

After a weekend of utter gluttony, running around dressed in gold spandex, making horribly inappropriate gestures while playing Cranium, and racking up serious family face time, it's back to work. Only a couple weeks left in this year! While I walk off my stuffing and mashed potatoes, take a look through this week's headlines.

Posterchild proposed to his girlfriend, Sonja, over the weekend. How’d he do it? Watch the video.

The perpetually busy Michael De Feo has shows opening in Toronto and Miami this week. Wild!

Blek Le Rat is in Melbourne, Australia, to open his retrospective at Armadale’s Metro Gallery.

In the West Bank, street artists take the conflict to the wall.

Teens in the Cayman Islands can take advantage of a street art course taking place on December 5.

If you’re in London from December 9-12, stop by the Flying Eyeball Graffiti Pop-Up Shop. You can meet Inkie and Goldie and pick up unusual holiday goodies.

Omino interviewed Lascia Il Segno on his blog.

YZ hit the streets of Paris’s Marais district and pasted up a fresh batch of posters titled "Downtown". Visit her website for lovely shots.

Here’s a lovely collection of C215’s stencils.

REVOK got nabbed while visiting 33rd in Los Angeles. He's currently being held on $20,000 bond.

“Breaking Walls,” a show at Museo Fondazione Luciana Matalon in Milan, opens this Wednesday.

Textura, Luz A. Martin’s new book, features gorgeous photos of street art in Valencia, Spain.

Don't forget: Josh Sutterby has his opening this Friday at London’s Print House Gallery. Check his blog for the specifics.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday ProFile: Keflione

Most people think law enforcement is the most dangerous enemy for a street artist. For French artist Keflione (Kefli is French slang for ‘cop), his paradoxical nickname pokes fun at the police. In his experience, it’s not the cops he worries about. “Wild animals are more dangerous than cops!” he exclaims. “I was in the jungle in Brunei on Borneo. I went on my own to abandoned houses in the jungle. Suddenly, a boar which was a meter away in the grass ran towards me. I was alone: no cell phone, no weapons, just a camera. I felt stupid. I didn’t move.”
In 2001, Keflione got into graffiti through skateboarding. “We didn’t know about graffiti first,” he says, “but it was a logical way to do something in the streets exactly like skateboarding. We bought spray cans and started painting. I wasn’t drawing before that, but I started copying letters and fonts. Then I started creating my own style when I chose what I liked best.” His interest in art led to graphic design and fine arts degrees, but Keflione keeps his work on the street. “I only work with my friend Shygun,” he adds. “He’s the guy I started with. We understand each other and develop concepts together.”
Currently based in Rennes, Keflione’s painting takes him way off the grid. In the past, he’s bombed France, Germany, Malta, India, Borneo, and Greece. “I was in India with two friends last December,” he recalls. “We were painting in the Kathputali slums in Delhi and there was a wedding in the street at the same time. In India, weddings are really important, so there were a lot of people. The groom who’d just gotten married was drunk and throwing money at the crowd. A group of poor kids fought to get the bills. There was lots of music, color, people, and smiles. The streets were full of kids everywhere, inside houses and on rooftops. It’s something amazing that you have to see for real once in your life: a mix of colors, violence, party, poorness, and thrown money. We added a bit of paint to it.”
Other painting experiences were less than pleasant. “When I started, the main place to paint in my city was an abandoned slaughterhouse close to train tracks,” he explains. “It was full of colorful graffiti. We didn’t know anything about it, so we decided to go there at night. We discovered this massive place of graffiti culture in the dark. It was really scary with butcher spikes, tiles, cold rooms, broken glass, and savage cats. When we realized it was possible to come during the day, we noticed some big holes in the floor where they used to throw the carcasses.”
In the future, Keflione worries street art will be less about art and more about money. “It’ll turn into a reality TV show or an iPhone application, but a business for sure,” he predicts. However, he doesn’t have any inclination to stray from his roots. “Street art means free galleries in the street,” he insists. “I’m always pushing back boundaries in design, street art, and typography. I love always being different. Currently, he’s working on a “Call Me Majesty” exhibition. The black and white pieces vary in design, font, and graphics but communicate “the same ego-tripping message,” he says, adding, “I’d like to develop my work in bigger formats with better fonts and to get more exposure in the streets. I want to keep traveling and doing my work everyday. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going and I know there will be streets and fonts in it.”
Cimer, Keflione! For more fantastic shots, peep his website. That's all for now; have a great weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November 2009: Diabetik in DC

When I visited Washington D.C. this summer, I considered it to be a fairly clean city. It seemed like the nation's capital didn't really get down with street art. Fortunately, Diabetik proved me wrong. From candy corn cones at Halloween to Christmas-y gingerbread men and springtime Peeps, he can glean inspiration from any holiday. Perhaps he's pasting up some turkeys today? Covering city blocks with giant cans of cranberry sauce? Keep your eyes peeled. He writes:
"I started making street art about six months ago. Around Easter, I decided to do my version of an Easter egg hunt with the Peep wheatpastes so all of DC could play."
"I will go out with other artists in a collective called DC51, especially if we want to get up big or hit a high-traffic area. Other times it’s really nice to wander the streets at night by yourself while the city sleeps."
"I like to create simple, easy to read icons with a sense of humor. Once somebody spots one piece, they start seeing more and more throughout the city. The work is all about making someone smile."
"The first time I got up, I had made paste-ups on a really shitty paper that just didn’t want to stay. There were three of us working it pretty hard on a busy street for about 10 minutes until it laid flat. In the end, they stayed in great shape for a long time until the wall was removed."
"I view electrical boxes as blank canvases. The city has thousands and I’d love to hit every one of them. Right now, I'm working on something seasonal. I’m also part of a gallery show in January."

Awesome, Diabetik! Thanks so much! For more holiday-theme photos (and other non-holiday related items), check out his Flickr. Now it's turkey time, so give thanks and eat up!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

October 2009: Zuk Club in Moscow

If you spot a zebra on a Russian wall, chances are Zuk Club pasted it there. (ZUK stand for "Zebra Flies Everywhere" in Russian). The group consists of seven friends: БРИТВА, Seda, Brain_Made, Potato, Molesh, AcidBask, and Omeman. Together, they drink, paint, and party their way across the country. Don't be fooled by their wild style; while Zuk Club members are always down for a good time, they insist "In life and creativity, we don't search for easy ways." They write:
"We began to make street art in 2005. Back then, it was just stickers,stencils and small posters."
"We are a group of 7 artists. Each person has his own style, but most of our works are done together."
"Our style is a mix of graffiti, our own drawings, and something we take from geniuses like Esher, Breigel, Picasso, Margriete,Dali. Now, we absolutely love to use optical illusions in our works and, if it's possible, to make it monumental."
"We love to explore something new: new walls, streets, countries. When we paint, we make it a show or party with our friends."
"Now that we've opened the gallery called 'Loft-Number-One', we want to make an exhibition with some street art artists. Next year, we want to have our second annual festival called 'Street Art Week'."

Cool, guys! For more info, check out their website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

October 2009: Mr. Lexotanil in Athens

I love the pioneering spirit behind street art. More and more, I'm realizing that contrived paths and following orders aren't really for me. I don't know where I'm headed in terms of career, location, or anything of that nature, but I'm getting more comfortable with embracing that "whatever happens, happens" attitude. Each person I interview represents these "true to yourself" ideals, and Mr. Lexotanil is no exception. Making the leap from small down Greece to studying at a major university, he's doing what he loves and I couldn't be happier for him. He writes:
"I did my first graffiti in Ioannina, Greece, in 2002. But it wasn't until the beginning of 2007 that I decided to seriously take up street art and thus became who I am today. Street art entered my life and never left."
"I started painting alone but now I paint with my crew, 'ANUS'. I prefer working in isolated spots."
"I was mainly doing traditional graffiti pieces til 2008. In the beginnings of 2008, I left Ioannina (my hometown) and moved to Athens to study photography and audiovisual arts. That was when my ideas about painting in the street changed very fast. Since then, I've done my best to make my own style and I attempt to reflect my thoughts in my art."
"This period I am trying to improve my skills, develop my personal style and create things that will mean something in the future."
Σε ευχαριστώ, Mr. Lexotanil! For more photographs, check out his Flickr.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In The Headlines

Great weekend. Other than relaxing, I got to watch my sister qualify for the world Irish step dancing championships. YEAH, GIRL, YEAH! Okay, enough bragging. I'm totally ready for Thanksgiving, but I promise to deliver the goods even on Thursday. Here's your news for the week.

If you can't be there in person, Inspire Collective posted a video of the Reuse Project in Tel Aviv.

Some New Yorkers are freaking out over BNE's upcoming show.

Omino 71 interviewed BR1 on his blog.

LAist is all about sharing secret painting spots. However, they also threw in some photos of work at Sunset Junction.

Graffiti goes indoors in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

The bandages are off and Hang-Up's face-lift looks good.

Osservatorionomade/Marseille questions the role of urban art in public spaces. Definitely worth a look.

In Shoreditch, Maverick Showrooms presents "Shades of Things to Come," an exhibitions featuring works from Does, Nychos, Tizer, and others. Catch it from November 25-November 29.
Ripo presented "10 Days," a film of live painting, at Vienna's MuseumQuartier last Friday. If you missed it, watch it here!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday ProFile: Josh Sutterby

Today, Josh Sutterby paints on the streets and in galleries, but his first artistic inklings pulled him towards comics. “I used to draw these comic books with these really weird creatures called the Alpha Males,” he explains. “They were a dominant force on the planet.” When he picked up a spray can, he adopted Alpha Male as a pseudonym. As his style evolved, so did his name, changing to Alfa and then back to Josh Sutterby. “When I think back, I really wish I had chosen something different,” he regrets, “but once you’ve gone under a name for a while and people start to know who you are a bit more, it almost seems silly to change it.”As a kid, Sutterby spent hours drawing at his kitchen table. Growing up on a farm, his mother encouraged her boys to be active instead of passively watching TV. “She would only let us watch it a certain amount every day,” he recalls. “At the time, I’m sure we moaned about it but looking back, it was the best thing she could have done for us.” As a kid, he dabbled in graffiti, but moving to London catalyzed this interest into an all-encompassing lifestyle. “I met a group of guys in South London who were really into street art and graffiti,” he says. “They were really inspiring. Eventually, we became Sooper Dooper Crew. Being in that kind of environment was amazing: drawing all day, then hitting the streets and tracks at night, getting up to no good.”
No matter what name he paints under, you’ll recognize Sutterby’s style. His dark and twisted themes pervade each piece. “Initially, originality was a massive problem,” he explains. “I was constantly asking myself, ‘Am I being original?’ Eventually, I just got used to the idea that you have to just do it your way and fuck what anyone else thinks.” Painting allowed him to travel the work, bombing in London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and everywhere in between.
Travel is a great perk, but being an artist isn’t always easy. When he’s not facing the dangers of street painting, he’s fielding criticism for his indoor and commercial work. “It’s very easy to jeopardize your integrity as an artist by doing jobs for corporate industries,” he acknowledges. “I’ve been judged by other people for doing commercial stuff, but without those jobs I could never further my career as an artist. There’s always gonna be haters; you just have to roll with the punches and do your thing.”
The hustle paid off for Sutterby and today, he’s able to rock the artist gig full-time. “I’m really grateful to be able to do what I like pretty much when I like it,” he confesses. “It’s great not to have to go and work some shit job you hate for no money five or six days a week. I’d like to be a little less lazy when it comes to painting, though. I’ve just done a show in Brighton and am now working on my new show which is to open early December at the print house in Dalston, East London.”
What’s the key to artist success? Sutterby believes the answer lies in constant practice. “I find it harder these days because I’m more particular about the subject of my art and I have less time to sit and draw, but when I was younger I used to be able to sit and draw for hours just from my imagination. I think it’s really important for artists to dedicate a certain amount of time to sit and just draw, whether it’s from your head or from life. It’s hard to put into practice and it’s quite time consuming, but it’s so rewarding in the end.”

Thanks so much, Josh! For more info about Josh's show and work, take a look at his blog. That's all for now; see you next week!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 2009: "Go Get Your Shinebox" at Brooklynite

Yesterday, I checked my inbox and was greeted with a note from PaperMonster. Always one to give Illicit a shoutout, he hopes everyone in the NYC area will come check out his latest group show. He writes:
"On November 21st Brooklynite Gallery will open 'Go Get Your Shinebox'. This group show will feature over 100 works from artists all looking to answer the question of how to survive in these economic times by creating their own interpretation of a 'Survival Box.'"
(For those of you that are wondering what the hell a shinebox is, think 1930s Depression-era America. Lots of kids out shining shoes and you had to put your feet up on something, hence shinebox: a portable toolbox and footrest in one. Needless to say, these are some pretty flashy shineboxes.)
"Brooklynite Gallery has commissioned some of their favorite established and emerging artist to take on this challenge and the responses are breathtaking."
"Artists such as Dain, Miss Bugs, PaperMonster, Anthony Lister, Ben Eine, Jace, Thundercut, Skewville, Ben Frost, Jon Burgerman, Specter, Skewville, Know Hope, Kosbe, Gaia, Ben Frost, Hush, and many more have all created a one of a kind box, each taking the concept of the show one step further."
"You can view the entire lists of artists participating and more information by visiting Brooklynite Gallery's site."

Thanks, PaperMonster! For my NYC folks, hit this up! The show runs through December 19, so get your shine on while you have the chance. Tonight, I'm off to see El Ten Eleven in New Haven. If you're there, say hi! I look like...well, like myself. Trust me, you'll know me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 2009: "The Thousands" at Village Underground

I've been impressed with RJ and Vandalog for quite some time now. Homeboy went over to London, started his blog, and in no time at all promoted it into a household name for street art. On top of that, he just started college this year. With a Blackberry full of connex like Black Rat Press and Pure Evil's Gallery, you know he means business. Tonight, RJ presents "The Thousands" at London's Village Underground. Here's the PR:
"The exhibition opens November 18th at Village Underground in London, and the lineup is really top notch. Because the artwork is (for the most part) on loan from collectors, I can include artists like Banksy, Os Gêmeos, José Parlá, Swoon, Aiko, Nick Walker, Kaws and many others that wouldn't normally show together."
"The full line-up as well as all the details about opening times are on Vandalog along with an e-flyer. I know some of you don't live in the UK, but maybe you'll be here on holiday or something. It would be great to see you at 'The Thousands'."
"And the book, The Thousands: Painting Outside, Breaking In is available now on Drago's website."
"If you know of anybody else who might be interested in 'The Thousands', please send them an e-mail. The more people there, the better. "
No doubt, RJ! While I'm furious I won't be able to make it (definitely makes me want to relocate to the UK for a while), I know I'll let my cross-the-pond folks know. If you're there, GO and tell me how it is!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

October 2009: 0331© in Moscow

In the United States, 0331 is a special unit within the Marines in charge of crew-served machine guns. In Russia, 0331© has to do with bombing, but not the explosive variety. Instead, this artist is all about graffiti and street art. Mixing old school standards with clever locations and style, he decorates walls (and trees) all across Europe. Today, he shares some photos and adventurous stories. He writes:
"I started with posters and stickers in 2001 and since that time I developed myself in different areas.
In most cases, I paint alone. It helps me to express my feelings, but I also I like painting productions with people whose art I really appreciate!"

"In my opinion, 'style' is only a cage in which a painter puts himself with his own hands. I try not to stop at what has been accomplished and I am constantly searching for some new ways of expressing visual compositions (ideas, types)."
"I adore when a place inspires me, but as such places are very hard to find in urban life, I've chosen forest and trees. I think that every painting and every picture must match the place where it is painted. It must create a composition, a harmony - that's what street art is for me."
"This summer my friend from Saint Petersburg and I had to spend a night in the police station in Paris. Getting arrested for tagging is pretty crazy. We tried to run from them, but they took us for a drive in their car, tried on handcuffs, and even beat my friend at the police for us to confess. Finally, at 7 o'clock in the morning, we left Paris for Vitally. Because of (or thanks to) the corruption, it is much easier in Russia; one can pay and do what ever he wants."
"I do not like to speak about the future or about plans, things which do not exist at present moment. But maybe this winter I'll introduce two new street art projects. Rock on! See you!"

Thanks a million, 0331©! For more info, visit his Flickr or website.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In The Headlines

Is it really over? After such a relaxing weekend, I'm not that motivated to go back to work. Any two day period that involves Anthony Bourdain, onion soup, coat racks made of skis and lazing is a good time. Hopefully Kara, Dan Deacon and I will both be healthy in January when we meet again. While I brew some coffee, check out this week's baby crop o' headlines.

Over at Vandalog, RJ's putting together a fabulous London showcase. The show kicks off this Thursday; check back Wednesday for all the details.

In Croatia, Lunar and his YCP crew created a series for the 150th anniversary of Playboy. Check his site for more shots.

"The Thousands" runs from November 18-22 in RJ at Vandalog. For more info, check out his awesome blog.

The Montana Street Art Extravaganza showcased the best graffiti in Napa Valley.

K74 covers LA’s Lookout Mountain Ave. with Moses, Charlie Chaplin, and ballerina wheatpastes.

In Detroit, an outdoor clinic built by two students highlights the lack of health care options in the Motor City.

Know Hope's show "Go Get Your Shinebox" opens on November 18 at the Brooklynite Gallery.

Someone's a dickhole. Last week, someone stabbed Chor Boogie and stole his paint as he created a mural for San Francisco's Market Street. Show some love as he finishes the piece; he's not letting the incident stop him.

Apparently, there's a secret spot in Los Angeles teeming with street art. Observe.

Since it's summer in the southern hemisphere, Auckland's street artists are out in full force.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday ProFile: BR1

Traveling around can break up a slump, but sometimes the best place to work is right under your nose. BR1 (BRuno) roams around, but he admits, "I love the Italian lifestyle and food too much to go live in a foreign city. I love Rome, full of history and monuments, but it's also where you can see the stereotype of Italian people. Turin gives me what I'm looking for from a big city: art and cultural ferments but also underground culture." When he's not studying law, he decorates the city known for FIAT and Nutella.
At first, BR1 began messing around with spray cans, but the medium proved to be too expensive. Since he loved drawing human figures, he gravitated towards stickers and posters. Over time, He developed his trademark Muslim women. He recalls, "First I made printed posters in black and white, then hand-colored posters. At first my pieces were small, but now they get bigger and bigger."
Whether they're shooting photos, talking on a cell phone, or carrying children, these Muslim ladies command respect. "Without women, there isn't life!" BR1 insists. "People start to look at me as a feminist that makes people aware of the Muslim woman's condition, but it's way too misleading. Muslim women are people just as others, with a culture and customs that are often the same, if you account for globalization. I don't want to debate religion and politics through my art; I focus on the woman, the person. I'm an impressionist painter that makes a portrait of a woman with an interesting story."
Police don't always take kindly to the ladies. When the cops show up, he unsticks his posters to avoid conflict. Fortunately, the city of Turin appreciates and respects BR1's work. He remembers, "Some months ago, someone drew on the woman in my poster. Two months later, I saw that someone came and fixed the poster with acrylic paint. They restored my work! This is my ultimate goal."
Rolling out solo makes the creative process easier, but BR1 is all about teamwork, too. "When I have time, I love organizing street art events," he says. "I organized the Turin Poster Festival with more than 100 posters from all over the world. I also put together Vinilificiocreativo with my friend Omino71 from Rome. This show contained vinyl painted by urban artists. The second stage of the show in Rome became the biggest and most popular vinyl show in Italy."
In the future, BR1 hopes to work more color into his pieces. His free magazine on street art is coming along and he hopes to set up a big street art festival in Turin by April 2010. For BR1, it's all about pushing boundaries. "We have the power to change the meaning of public space," he says. "With street art, a wall can become a frame."

Grazi, BR1! For more fabulous photos, visit his Flickr. For folks in the CT area this weekend, stop by ArtSpace in New Haven for the Elm City Pop Fest. (Thanks to the awesome guys over at CT Indie for putting this event together!) Have a great weekend and I'll see you guys on Monday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

October 2009: Damon Ginandes in NYC

Damon Ginandes paints faces that linger in your mind long after the painting is gone. With their sullen eyes and gaunt cheeks, they haunt the streets they decorate. Today, Ginandes gives us a peek into the past and a hint about what lies ahead. He writes:
"I became interested in graffiti as a teenager in the early/mid '90's, and learned how to paint with a spray can doing pieces and characters now and then. But graffiti started to seem more and more stagnant and repetitive to me, so my interest waned. It wasn't until about five years ago, when there seemed to be a burst of new 'street art', that I really started paying attention again. At that time, I was primarily focused on my studio work. In 2007, however, I took on a commission to paint a 60 foot long mural on Degraw Street in Brooklyn – that project really rekindled my interest in large scale street work."
"I've been painting characters similar to the ones in my current work for quite a while, since my early teens. Of course my style has changed and developed since then, but that seemed to be a very formative period for me artistically. I had an art teacher at that time, a Holocaust survivor, who would incessantly paint glaring faces staring outwards and I must have absorbed part of her vernacular. Also, at that age I discovered such artists as Alberto Giacometti and Egon Schiele, and their influence is still apparent in my work. I am attracted to the distorted human figure -- faces and bodies elongated and interwoven with abstraction. Lately, my style has become a bit more angular, almost 'cubist'."
"I generally work by myself, though I'd love to collaborate more often. I don't have a favorite place to paint, but I prefer hard surfaces."
"A few years back, I was painting an abandoned factory alongside railroad tracks in Massachusetts in the dead of winter. There was probably a foot snow covering the ground so it was impossible to know what exactly was underneath your feet. At some point, I stepped back to take a look at my piece, and as my boot pressed down through the snow, I felt a shooting pain in my foot. I pulled it up and found a huge rusty spike sticking out of a piece of wood that had gone through my boot and right into the bottom of my foot. I was able to pull the spike out, but I could feel my boot fill up with blood. Luckily, I was painting with two friends who were able to get me to a hospital quickly. Tetnis shots ensued."
"I generally retreat to my studio when the weather gets colder, so I'll be generating a new body of studio work in the coming months. Check out my website and join my mailing list for updates on upcoming exhibitions and projects!"

Thanks, Damon! Stay warm indoors and we'll look forward to a new outdoor project in the spring.