31 August 2016

Why everyone should go on a street art tour.

I have been wanting to do a street art tour for ages, but, as always, the list of things I want to do is about as long as my arm, times 100. Anyway, what are bank holidays for if not to dust off that list, drag a friend along and go see some amazing street art in trendy east London's Shoreditch?

I loved, loved, loved the tour. I learned so much and it felt like I was entering an entire world hidden in plain sight. Our tour guide, Nelly, was a lady who has been photographing artists and getting to know them for the past 4.5 years (her Instagram is here).

Artist - Roa (the bird) only does animals and very well known. It took him a day to put this up. He is so good and respected that, even after the owner of the building offered the other side for other artists, no one took him up on the offer so as not to be compared with Roa - until the break dancing soldier that is, and the artist who did that did get a bit of a backlash.

Nelly was very knowledgeable and had a wealth of information to share. Some of the really interesting things she mentioned were that roughly 80% of the artists have a traditional art background (eg in fine arts or graphic design) and for a lot of them street art is a way to get exposure for galleries to pick them up or companies/brands to work with them.

There are so many unwritten rules about who gets to paint where, who can paint over another artists work and how long they have to wait before they can do it. Nelly also talked about specific pieces and, where known, what they meant. It really was an eye-opener. I'm so intrigued now that I'm itching to try another street art tour and maybe pick up a book on the subject.

Artist: Dale Grimshaw. Protest piece for the West Papua tribe being killed off by the Indonesian government because they have gold on their land.
If you're unconvinced, here are 10 reasons why everyone should go on a street art tour, in no particular order.
  1. It's like learning a secret language
  2. You see things hidden in plain sight
  3. Find out about community gardens that make you say "how'd I not know this was here?!" (None of my photos do the community garden any justice so I haven't included any)
  4. It's an open air art gallery showcasing some very talented artists
  5. Hear about the unwritten rules and hierarchy of the sub culture
  6. It challenges any assumptions, stereotypes, preconceptions and prejudices
  7. Learn to identify big name artists other than Banksy and Invader
  8. See something that, due to its nature, might disappear the next day
  9. It's free! Well tip based if you go with these guys (This is not a sponsored post!)
  10. Learn about paste ups, social interventions and the difference between tagging, graffiti and street art.
  11. Social Interventions - where an artist has taken something seen everyday and given it a twist..can you see it in this photo?
    This is a paste up, with a twist - The artist is Dr Cream, he designed a series of these, that, when put together, form an animation
    Tagging is the bit you see over the woman's face - essentially the street name of an artist. Kind of ugly, and personally, I think it's closer to plain vandalism than anything artistic.
    Graffiti - Stylised typography, usually with letters meaning something only to those in the know.
    Street Art - My favourite by far, it's anything that is an image and can be easily understood (the first five images in this blog post are also brilliant examples of street art
And just coz I want to...here are some more photos I took during the tour to whet your appetite. I do think there is a place for street art, after all, we are bombarded daily with advertising on the streets, why can't we have a little art instead? What do you think?

Artist: Otto Shada.
Originally from Chile, he was an architect
who turned artist. The galleries rejected his
work but after becoming popular on the streets,
he now has shows everywhere.

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