While I photographed a huge hedgehog on a wall in Shoreditch, this gentleman stood across the road watching me. I wasn’t even aware that he was in my photo. He crossed over, came up to me and asked “Are you a street art fancier?” Thus followed a conversation on the subject. He told me that one of the artists lived right behind where we were standing (but I can’t remember what her name was). I said that yes, I was a street art fancier. Below are some of the images I captured during my time in London.
I came across a guy talking to a group of people about street art. It was a walking tour of some sort. I waited till he finished talking and then asked how I could get onto one of these tours. The guy’s name was Josh and the tour was an introduction to the history of East London with an emphasis on street art. If ever you get to London I highly recommend this tour. The website is http://www.alternativeldn.co.uk I went on the walking tour with my family a couple of weeks later. It was one of the highlights of my trip. When I returned for the tour at the designated time and place I asked “Is this the street art tour?” Josh replied “It is SO MUCH MORE than a street art tour”. And it was!!!
I learned that graffiti taggers are on the opposing team to street artists. They think that street art is naff hence they often tag over the top of it and mess it up.
Is the following photo of street art or graffiti? I guess you’d say the latter – but it still caused me to stop in my tracks and laugh.
Street art sure ain’t paid though some is permissible and some is illegal. ‘Permissible’ means that some business or other has allowed an artist to work on its walls. Street art done with permission is often much more time consuming than art done on the run; the latter is done as fast as possible (or made off-site and then pasted or sprayed on site). The piece below is an example of art done with permission. The artist still doesn’t get paid but he doesn’t risk fine or arrest either. This whole massive work was done with spray cans which is almost an impossible feat and took extrarordinary skill to get the lines so even.
While I hunted out street art in East London (on three separate occasions) I felt that it was like looking in an art gallery only better as I had to seek out the work myself – rather like being on a treasure hunt. Yes, some is huge – but some is so discreet you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were ‘forensic’ about finding it. The two following images show tiny works – both of which I missed until Josh (during the Alternative London tour) pointed them out.
So many people love street art (the humour and brilliance one can find) that you can buy your own bits and pieces of it from shops which make profit from photographing examples and then mass producing fridge magnets and the like. Of course the artists who thought the designs up don’t get a red penny from it. The original works may disappear in a minute. I guess at least these magnets etc give some permanency to them…one way of looking at this type of ‘art theft’.
Why do we artists do it? I’m not a street artist but I am an artist. Even when one is a regular gallery-exhibiting artist, there is no guarantee of pay. Something might sell but it might not. Gallery-exhibiting or street-exhibiting, we are compelled to make art and then we do what it takes to get seen. Our currency is not necessarily money. It CAN be – and we’d LIKE it to be – but sometimes our currency is just admiration or notoriety.
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