Will Barras sketches available exclusively from Scrawl Collective. Own an original drawing by one of the UK’s top artists. Under “original art” on Will’s Scrawl page. http://www.scrawlcollective.co.uk/index.php?act=viewArtists&catId=51&state=detail
Also new on Scrawl. The last word in cutting edge edition publication… Cosmo Sarson takes the old concept of the diorama and transfer sets of your childhood and updates it for the jilted generation with I Create A Riot (London). Yes you too can now conduct bloody insurrection on the streets but from the safety of your armchair.
I Create a Riot by Cosmo Sarson. http://www.scrawlcollective.co.uk/index.php?act=viewArtists&productId=1842&state=product
New things from Scrawl Collective…
Things Change by Jo Peel. The long awaited print of her celebrated Village Underground Mural is now available. http://www.scrawlcollective.co.uk/index.php?act=viewArtists&productId=1839&state=product
Marty McDouble by RYCA. http://www.scrawlcollective.co.uk/index.php?act=viewArtists&productId=1840&state=product
Multiple Han Silver by RYCA. http://www.scrawlcollective.co.uk/index.php?act=viewArtists&productId=1841&state=product
Fairytales Gone Bad (Ariel, Dwarf & Redriding Hood) Set. by Tom Lohner. http://www.scrawlcollective.co.uk/index.php?act=viewArtists&productId=1835&state=product
Should have posted this on here a while back but I temporarily forgot I had a blog…. Anyway better late than never.. Jo Painted this a few weeks back which was pretty impressive anyway I thought but then she went and did this and my flabber was truly gasted!
MYNE at work. Myne first came to my attention about 5 or 6 years ago, pre Cosmic Garage when I was still swanning about in posh Soho offices and doing lunch with various peoples people. He came to see me with his work and like alot of street artists starting out he was still in the process of internalising his influences and making them into something that was uniquely him. I definitely thought he had something though, even at that early stage and two early print releases Seagull and Myne Attacks showed the potential. Over the intervening years, including time spent in LA interning and working with Shepard Fairey, he has started to find that singular voice, the style that will become unmistakably his. His work these days draws as much from west coast 80’s punk art and graphics as it does the initial mid 90’s flowering of street art. It was in admiration of this progress that I thought the next Ric’s Cosmic Garage print should be his latest screen print It’s All In My Head. A self produced edition exploring his own obsession with his work and in particular the little fluffy cloud motif that has become his trademark. Here’s a film made especially to coincide with the launch, showing the artist at work on the edition and working on the street.
One of the things I wanted to do on this intermittent blog of mine was to revisit featured artists from the original Scrawl books. It’s hard to appreciate now just how different the embryonic “street art” (for want of a better catch all title) scene was back in 1998. The vast majority of the artists were making a living in the commercial art arena, many hadn’t even begun to make the transition to the gallery and the main sources of work were still record labels, fashion brands and the like.. This was hardly surprising given that the hip hop scene that contemporary graffiti came out of was naturally very brand conscious. Ideas about selling out were at the time seen as a bit quaint and the legacy of this is that street art of all the contemporary art scenes is the most self-reliant. To be a practitioner of street art is to be part artist, part hustler and all the artists, designers and illustrators in the Scrawl books typified this ethos in their own individual way. Todays emergent new street art talent with all the avenues and opportunities of exposure on offer from places to paint, to the plethora of galleries and websites through which they can sell their work owe a debt of gratitude not just to the pioneers of graffiti from the late 70’s and early 80’s for kicking everything off but to the army of artists and designers from that mid 90’s period that helped lay down all the various career paths now open to them.
Today I’m launching a print in my cosmic garage by Cosmo Sarson a featured artist from the first Scrawl book whose story is typical of the artists we featured…. or rather it’s the same but different. On the day of the launch of the first Scrawl book at Scala Cosmo turned up with his work for the show with the news that he was hanging up his brushes for a job in advertising a move which kinda typifies the symbiotic nature that has always existed between street art and commerce. Cosmo started out doing graffiti and breakdancing as a kid and this led him to study fine art where he learnt new disciplines that he could apply to his graffiti knowledge. Working in oils and gouache but sticking to his principal subject Hip Hop he began to produce painterly almost trompe l’oeil images of breakdancers, skateboarders and bmx riders, his most well known work (and the work we featured in Scrawl) being the B-Boy series which were a series of canvasses depicting him breakdancing infront of the Wall of Fame in Tufnell Park. His quote from the book typifies one of the prevailing attitudes at that time, particularly in London, a kind of natural modesty and a willingness and desire to embrace the commercial on their own terms.
“Artists aren’t bohemians any more. They’re selling trendy commodities. So if people want to buy branded art with a trendy theme all I’m doing is creating something to meet the market. I’m making paintings like T-Shirts…”
Fifteen years later and he’s back painting again. Lured back in by the opportunity to paint scenery for the movie industry, (he painted in situ graffiti for children of Men and Harry Brown and is about to start work on the forthcoming Brad Pitt Zombie movie WWZ) he got himself a studio and returned to his first love. The print we’ve launched today is a study from his first work since picking up from where he left off. It’s called Breakdancing Jesus and is inspired by a newspaper cutting he found of some breakdancers entertaining the Pope. It represents the end of his breakdancer paintings as he moves on to new subject matter, riots. Something tells me he’s gonna have plenty of material to draw on over the next few years…. (To view the print click here…)
Cosmo’s pages in the original Scrawl book.
The Painting “Breakdancing Jesus” that the print is taken from and a photographic study of one of Cosmos mates breakdancing dressed in a loin cloth that was the basis for the painting.
Another trawl through my archives found this piece I put together for Illustrated Ape in 2003. Every trip to Japan back then would see me returning to claim extraordinary things for Japanese Street Art and judging by the short caption here this trip was no exception. Maybe I was getting a bit carried away… but not much….
Tokyo Street Artists are taking Graffiti to a new level.
By Ric Blackshaw
The worldwide graffiti scene is becoming big business. Despite all attempts by the mainstream media and local and national government representatives to lump everything in with the ubiquitous tags and dubs that some would say blight our streets, there is a small number of super talented, progressive artists round the world that use the street as their medium but are a million miles from what most would call graffiti. In this respect Japan has been setting the bar for at least the last five years.
Five years ago I travelled to Japan for the first time with Scrawl Collective to work with some artists in Osaka and was blown away by what was going on. This is where I first encountered Kami and Sasu and their beautifully precise freehand brushwork. Local kids were coming up to us on that trip and showing us sketchbooks that were full of life and originality. All of us came back from that trip inspired and re-enthused by the generosity of spirit that contrasted at the time so starkly with the, dare I say it, bitchiness back home.
The influence of some of these artists on the future direction of street art and the wider visual inspiration they will provide is or should be immense. If it seems I’m over egging the pudding here I can only offer this observation from a recent trip to the Ill Communication exhibition at the Urbis Museum in Manchester. This show offered up some of the biggest names in street art from around the world. The stand out piece in that show, with it’s impressive line up, was the huge collaborative mural by Kami and Sasu. It shone and commanded it’s space while the other installations by comparison seemed to struggle to come to terms with their new whited out stark gallery environment. Graffiti has often struggled to make the transition from street to gallery but the scene in Japan seems to produce artists whose work isn’t bound by the streets that spawned it and therefore the move into the gallery feels less fraught to the viewer.
So here we are five years on and in that time I have met countless other amazing artists in Japan. Mainly through another amazing talent who calls himself South. He studied in San Diego where he met Shepherd Fairy and got into wheat pasting, since then he has returned to Tokyo and along with a group of artists has set up Dyezu Experiment, a gallery, store and studio space in the Nakameguro district of Tokyo. The space is used by Kami, Sasu, Esow, Diskah, Zys and it is also the base of Miyuki “Pai” Hirai official photographer to the Barnstormers. The space also plays host to artists from around the world, particularly their sometime Barnstormer collaborators from New York. The existence of this space seems to have concentrated all this talent and it is starting to turn out an increasingly impressive body of work. This is just tiny example of that output.
Scrawl Collective artists Will Barras, Phil Ashcroft and Cat painting a wall in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. May 2010. Soundtrack - Primitive Painters by Felt. Filmed by Darren Groucutt and Ric Blackshaw. Edited by Darren Groucutt.
The long overdue posting of our short film Primitive Painters made in May as a record of our lovely weekend painting in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Will Barras, Phl Ashcroft and Cat created… well we’re still not sure what exactly but to all intents and purposes it looks to be some kind of leviathan thingy rising from the deep while butterfly men fight men and laser firing flowers. See! It all makes sense once it’s explained to you… It probably means something environmental or vaguely green but It’s much easier to leave interpretations down to the viewer not least because they may paint these crazy bloody murals but it’s muggings here who has to write about them and although my reputation for dynamism and general oomph is well known I am at heart a lazy bastard.
The music on the soundtrack (also called Primitive Painters) is by Felt with a backing vocal by the singer Bjork always wanted to be but lacked the taste to ever hold a candle to Liz Fraser. Of the many bands I fell in love with in the 80’s Felt are among the handful whose records I still treasure as much now as I did when I first tracked them down in Piccadilly Records and Paperchase in Manchester. Their front man was the pale intense looking Lawrence and despite his non pop star demeanour Felt found themselves briefly courted by the mainstream, probably on the strength of this song and others from the fourth album Ignite the Seven Cannons. However Felt were never really chart material and this period saw them move from Cherry Red in 1985 to Creation. Felt were one of the bands that instilled a love of obtuseness in my musical heroes, their first move for Creation was to recruit a keyboard player (Martin Duffy later of Primal Scream) and release a strange album of instrumentals called Let The Snakes Crinkle their Heads to Death. I remember thinking that they must have lost the plot when I first brought that home with me expecting the shimmering beauty of Primitive Painters or the hard minimal intensity of Penelope Tree only to be confronted by Now That’s What I Call Bontempi as I saw it at the time. This was followed by one of their masterpieces Forever Breathes the Lonely Word from which I lifted another song title All the people I like are those that are dead for our 2004 exhibition All the People We Like Are Dead. They got more settled into a groove after this putting out consistently brilliant records like Poem of the River and the single Ballad of the Band. Their penchant for confounding expectations never truly died though, as a couple of beautiful pieces for piano were recorded for the Ballad of the Band EP and their penultimate album (Train Above The City) turned out to be another album of instrumentals, (Lawrences only contribution being the song titles) this time based around the vibes, an instrument that I associated more readily with my Dads MJQ records. On the release of their tenth and final album, the superb Me and a Monkey on the Moon Lawrence announced that there had always been a 10 albums and 10 singles in 10 years plan for Felt and the band split.
The reasons why certain bands stay with you like Felt have with me are myriad and strange… I have as many fond memories of countless other gigs and bands and yet they never stuck in quite the same way, or at least only a few did. I never saw them play to more than 20 people, I don’t remember reading interviews in NME or even really knowing what they looked like before I saw them live but somehow they got under my skin and no doubt next time I’m floundering for a title for a Scrawl show I will pull one of Lawrence’s gems from my memory banks and everyone will think I have a better way with words than I really do. Cheers Lawrence.
(Lawrence went on to form Denim and currently records as Go Kart Mozart. He has developed into one of the great English pop individualists. There is currently a film knocking about called Lawrence of Belgravia that I was forced to miss through illness when it was screened at the Barbican a few years ago. I still haven’t seen it. If anyone can tell me how to get a copy I will be very happy)