Street Art for the Masses
Street art holds a very dear place in my heart. From art on the side of trains hauling freight to abandoned buildings with EARL tagged on them. I love Street Art. Some of it has no effect on me. It’s like “Cool dude #3784859034737890 who learned how to write his name in the worst penmanship style possible. What school did you drop out of?” Then you see a piece of Street Art that changes you. Like a piece that has a new shading effect due to the artist dipping rattle cans into freezing water to slow down the release process. That’s the kind of art I enjoy.
Last year on thanksgiving I was in London. In a rad place called Shoreditch. Our Street Art Tour guide named DOUG took us all around ShoreDitch. Imagine brick buildings that are falling apart, have been around for over 50 years and a neighborhood taken over by a new nationality every 10 years. That’s basically Shoreditch. It defiantly has that New York feel to it. Maybe New York has that London feel to it. Either way, they’re very similar. It’s full of bodegas and niche shops. Probably some of the best food I’ve ever had came from Shoreditch.
Before we left the ground in Vegas, I knew I wanted to take a street art tour. So We decided to investigate online and find the best tour.
When we looked on Trip Advisor, we came across this great company called Street Art London Tours. We come to find out that it’s not a company, but a group of people that know the area really well and happen to give tours. Our guide even informed us that he knows several of the artists we were about to see. Now it’s been almost a year later. So they might be an LLC or something by now. We were told to meet the tour guide outside of this market by the Goat on top of some boxes. Our guide would be holding a pink clip board. We thought that was odd, but what ever. We show up and there was Doug. No pink clipboard in hand and under the goat. Ok, I have to make something clear. There really is a Goat on top of Boxes. Here’s the proof.
After all of the tour participants showed up, we proceeded to travel on foot. Off the start, Doug told us that we’re going to see all kinds of street art. It’s not just graffiti and buildings covered in toilet paper. He was going to widen our horizons. Open our minds and expand our learning. We stopped next to this stop sign / pole and Doug gave this amazing presentation on how things can just appear out of nowhere. Then he tells us to look up and there’s this bronze figurine on top of the pole. We probably stood under it for a solid 20 minutes. No one looked up. It was just crazy to think about that. The artist name is Jonsey. He does some amazing work. He bronzed a figurine and then bronzed some wings off a pigeon and put the two together. it was really quite something. I took a picture of it, but it didn’t come out so well.
After that, Doug walked us down this road and showed us Stickman. A famous artist that draws a simple stick figure. The one Doug showed us was a stick figure woman wearing a burka. It symbolized a lot. Doug then pointed us across the street to a Church that has been almost every type of religion since it opened its door. That’s very rare for a church to do. Typically a church opens as a Christian Church and never changes. Since the church Doug showed us was in a semi poor part of London, the church takes on the religion of the majority of the population. It was really interesting seeing something so rare. The funny part was the church was just an ordinary building made out of bricks. Here’s a gallery of everything I just described.
After the church, Doug walked us down to another popular graffiti / street art spot. Here happened to be some of the Largest scale, most inventive street art pieces I’ve ever witnessed in person. There was this elephant. The whole piece was done by drawing individual lines. Being right next to it, they were just lines on a wall. Stand back and there’s this elephant. It was awesome. We turn and there is this huge crane (the bird) painted on a 5 or 6 story building. Seriously, I don’t even know where to begin when painting a 5 story building. Someone did though. There was this once piece that was done by scratching out the art work in a window covered in dust. Yeah, think of it like when you write “WASH ME” on a dirty car. That’s basically what it was like. The last piece he showed us was another like the elephant. It is this boy yelling, or saying something. When you walk up to it, it’s all words and sayings painted in such a way that it makes a figure. It was really awesome. Here’s a gallery of the art I just described.
From there we walked down Code Street. At the end of code street, there is this huge wall that was taken over by graffiti artists. Some of the art was your basic, run of the mill street tagging. Standing out was this huge Bart Simpson mural. Bart Simpson is probably one of the most iconic graffiti artist not to be a human. I thought it was really cool seeing an artist copy another artist on a larger scale. So there’s Bart Simpson, as graffiti participating in adding more graffiti. What an awesome piece it was.
Walking the length of the wall at the end of Code Street, we once again stopped. Doug pointed out this amazing black and white piece. The subjects of the piece are black and white. They are holding a hose, and the hose is spraying out drops of something. The drops are in color. It was really a simple concept that I think we forget about. What was really impressive, is that the hose was drawn to make it look like it was hooked up to the power generator on the side of the building the piece was drawn on. Again, here’s a photo
After a few other pieces of random street art, Doug showed us probably one of the coolest pieces I’ve ever seen. It was this tug boat. Nothing super fancy about it. But the whole piece looked like it was done with spray paint. It turns out that the piece was done using a brush and some paint in a can. I mean, this defeats the whole purpose of graffiti. Usually you want to get in, and get out so the police do not arrest you. This guy took the time to paint this piece. So here’s that picture, along with a picture of Doug!
After code street, we walked down Bethnal Green Rd in Shoreditch. This road had a ton of different pieces. A giant rat, a lock and safe company with a safe door painted around the main entrance, and some traditional street graffiti tagging. Doug took us to this awesome parking lot and turned us around. There was this giant building with this mural that was painted by a husband and wife team. It looks like an underwater piece, but it could also be birds in the sky. Either way it was awesome.
The last part of the tour was simply amazing. Doug showed us this wall that is painted over once a week. Yes, every week this wall is transformed into something new. Our week had this giant hand attached to a machine that kind of looked like a tank. See the pictures below. Next was this wall where we saw a guy, in real time, painting. He had permission (I’m sure) and he was just going for it. It was a pretty awesome piece. It was on a wall with like 4 or 5 other art works. This guys work was all interconnected. He used many different colors and it really stood out. The next piece ways a little bit down the road. It was a cowboy in a hat. Now what is really cool about this street art work was that the artist was only in town for 24 hours. Shoreditch is a good distance away from the airport. About an hour and a half. So the artist lands, paints and leaves. His work was this cowboy and it was unique because he dipped the cans in ice water to slow down the release of the paint. It added this amazing effect to the piece. I can’t say enough. Check out the cowboy below. The last piece that Doug showed us was this plaster on the side of a building. The artist used a jack hammer, that’s right, and carved out this face. Now, he had to have permission to do this because who wouldn’t hear that going on? Exactly. I snapped a few other shots and they are shown below.
The best part of the whole tour
You’ve probably been wondering if I have a favorite artist or a favorite piece that was seen on this tour. The answer is Yes. Yes to both. Space Invader, known as just Invader in the art world, is my favorite artist. His work is truly amazing and simple. Yet his is not paint, or plaster. His is bathroom / kitchen tile made to look like 8-Bit characters. Mostly he makes space invaders. Remember the game space invader? No? Go google it. Invader makes these awesome artworks that he sticks to the side of buildings and bridges etc. When we started the tour, I read that there was an active Invader currently up. See the thing with him,just like Banksy, is that his art isn’t up long. Mostly because their works are so large and draw a huge attraction that they need to come down.
So we’re walking down this road and Doug starts telling us this story. An artist (Invader) and his friends rented a cherry picker (a crane) and lifted the artist up to a building and the artist stuck his work to this building. The building is a bank. Invader gets up on this crane and he is sticking this artwork to the bank building. Meanwhile his friends are dressed as construction workers and directing traffic around the crane in the middle of the night. Can you imagine? That’s so awesome. So here is INVADERS work. I leave you with the best. Thanks for reading my blog and thanks for visiting my .vegas domain!