Interview: Dan Witz

25 Mar ’13

Dan Witz street art

Images from Dan Witz.

How did you get started in the street art scene?

I got started doing street art in the late 1970’s as an art student in downtown New York City. Back then, the idea was that if the world was a fucked up place that desperately needed changing, and contemporary art (and art schooling) had miserably failed us in this respect, then it became our job as artists to not only challenge the system but also change it. Much as I enjoyed museums and galleries, they were part of the problem: clearly exhibiting paintings on some white wall somewhere wasn’t going to change many minds. So, in search of more immediate impact, most of my friends started bands, and I did that for a while too, but I was a painter at heart. Inspired by the awesomely graffiti subway trains, I started going out tagging (or my version of it).

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Thierry Noir interview

Thierry Noir painting The Village Underground Wall (Feb 2013)

Thierry Noir was born in 1958 in Lyon, France, and came to Berlin in January 1982.  He found a place to live close to the Berlin Wall.  In April 1984, Noir began to paint the Berlin Wall in order to perform one real revolutionary act: to paint the Berlin wall, to transform it, to make it ridiculous, and to help destroy it. When the Wall fell in 1989 his paintings became a symbol of new-found freedom across Germany. Noir spent a week in London painting his iconic imagery around the streets of Shoreditch. 

Why did you move to Berlin in 1982?

I moved to Berlin for one simple reason – because I couldn’t find my way in France. I was fired from every job I started. After a while I said to myself, I have to change something in my life, because if I continue like this I’m going directly into a dead end. I didn’t want to be unemployed. So I thought to myself, I have to change something radically in my life. At that time I had heard a lot about West Berlin, about the music. There were a lot of new wave groups. A lot of people had to live in squats because there were no flats. The new mayor of West Berlin said, “If I am elected, I promise I will clean all the squats from Berlin”. So he got elected in June ’81, and from that point on there was a big battle in West Berlin about housing, with a lot of police and violence. It was in the news everyday in France, so I said to myself let’s go there, let’s see what’s happened. So I started from nothing, with only two small suitcases. I came with an address, but after a few days some guys said to me you have to find something else. I was really on the street, with only my two suitcases, and I started from zero to live in Berlin.

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Thierry Noir and Stik

Street Art London is hosting the iconic Berlin street artist Thierry Noir as he makes his London debut. Noir is a forerunner of the modern street art movement, famous for being the first artist to continuously decorate the Berlin Wall illegally from 1984 to pre-empt its ultimate fall in 1989. Street Art London is joining forces with prominent London street artist Stik to welcome Noir and introduce his art to the walls of Shoreditch and Dalston. The culmination of Street Art London’s programme of events will see Thierry Noir combine forces with Stik in painting a collaborative mural on the prestigious Village Underground Wall. On the 21st of February Noir and Stik will be exploring the continuum of street art history, the old school and the new school, within the broader context of art history at a talk in association with Street Art London and The Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House.

Thierry Noir Street Art London

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Interview: Kid Acne

11 Feb ’13

Kid Acne Slogan Street Art

Sheffield 2009

Kid Acne’s art can be seen on walls all over the globe. The Sheffield-based artist is best known for his comic-like illustrations and larger-than-life slogans. He recently completed his biggest London mural and Street Art London had the chance to sit down with this one-man-army to pick his brains. 

(All images save London 2013 are Kid Acne’s)

Why did you choose the phrase “OH MY DAYS” for the Village Underground mural?

I’ve been painting phrases for a while now. I probably did the first one around 2007 / 2008. I made hip-hop music for a number of years and when I was in a phase of making a lot of music I wasn’t really painting that much. I would write lyrics and ideas for songs in the back of my sketchbook and after a while I noticed I was writing more words in my book than I was drawing pictures in it. I thought I should really use them for something, so I started painting these slogans.

They’re just every day phrases that people say. I think it is nice to paint things that people can relate to, plus it has a lot of impact. Initially, it was almost as though the buildings were having a conversation. I painted one on my old art college before it got knocked down that said “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone”. I’ve always had it in my head that if I did a slogan in London it would say “Oh My Days”. People don’t really say that up north, so for me it’s a typical London phrase. I like painting big, bold stuff. It’s a good excuse to paint letters without having to write my own name over and over again.

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Kid Acne OH MY DAYS Street Art London VU Wall

Kid Acne become the latest artist to participate in Street Art London and Village Underground’s Wall Project with one of his signature slogans – OH MY DAYS.  Acne’s piece cements Sheffield’s early domination of the Wall since he follows fellow Sheffield based artist Phlegm onto the wall.   Working in brutally cold conditions Kid Acne managed to get the piece up over three days and even had time to put up some signature Art Fags on the carriage ends atop the wall with Dscreet.

This latest piece represents the next step on the way to establishing the most prestigious street art wall in the world in the heart of Shoreditch.  Each month or so Street Art London and Village Underground will invite a leading street artist to the Wall.  For all the info on the project head over HERE.

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Broken Fingaz Crew street art London

Here is a round-up of the Broken Fingaz‘ most recent work on the streets of London.  The fulcrum being a collaboration between crew members UNGA and TANT on the walls of a derelict pub close to Shoreditch.  Impeccably executed, it shows off three frames that are typically  characteristic of Broken Fingaz’s unique styles.  This, and other recent works, build on an already impressive catalogue from the Crew’s last visit to London in May 2012, recorded here, and which notably includes their accurate and vibrant mural along Hackney Road.

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Phlegm London

Having completed the big wall at Village Underground as part of Street Art London’s curated project on that wall Phlegm moved onto the front Village Underground walls on Great Eastern Street.  Here he produced a context specific piece on the four panels relating to the characters portrayed on the other side.

This marks the end of Phlegm’s week long trip to London, during which he managed to get up some fantastic work.  This piece follows on from RUN back in December 2012 and of course sits below the iconic slogan from Steve ESPO Powers. (ESPO’s piece formed part of his A Love Letter To You Project which originally comprised of over 50 large uplifting typographical murals along the elevated train line in Philadelphia and since spread to other cities including London and New York.)

This wall is part of Street Art London’s collaboration with Village Underground, check it out —>Village Underground Wall presented by Street Art London.

More photos after the jump.

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Street Art London Village Underground Wall

 

 

Village Underground Wall presented by Street Art London

 

 

Street Art London Village Underground Wall

Statement

Street art is the biggest artistic movement of the 21st Century, London is a pre-eminent city within this movement and the Village Underground Wall itself is at the epicentre of London’s street art milieu.

The ambition is to establish the most prestigious street art wall in the world and a cultural landmark in London. This will be achieved through a curated programme of works drawing in the finest London street artists and top international artists from all over the world.

Over the course of 2013 a series of inspiring pieces will be actualised on the Wall and documented in photograph and film.

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Street Art London iPad App

Street Art London presents The Street Art Book London.  Digital street art stimulation on your iPad.  Hundreds of pieces of street art from across London photographed, curated and complied by Street Art London.  Free for your iPad and in an App Store near you.

appstore

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The Rolling People

10 Dec ’12

The Rolling People graffiti in East London

The Rolling People collaboration on Hassard Street, just off Hackney Road is surely a contender for one of the best pieces of the year in London. We talk to The Rolling People who are SCARCE, SEKS, CEPT, BRK, SNOE, EGOE and AZIS.

First of all, can you tell us a little about this work and the inspiration behind it?

Snoe: This piece was designed as a mural celebrating the genius of 1980s Marvel comic book artists such as the master, Stan Lee. When I read these comics as a child, the quality of the artwork added so much to the drama and the intense action which allowed you to be in the story where your imagination became the story’s final author. This took you inside the Earth’s core or to a parallel dimension on the other side of the universe/microverse. Cept has been remixing comic imagery and lichtenstienesque stuff for years and in his recent galactic murals and cosmic collages he & our other members of TRP have used Marvel comics to provide background themes for graffiti productions for a long time.

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Yesterday RUN painted the Great Eastern Street side of Village Underground which has featured many classic works over the years.  Not least ‘Lets ADORE And ENDURE Each Other’ by Steve ‘ESPO’ Powers which itself has endured since October 2010 and will continue to do so.  SHOk-1’s incredible x-ray style is also visible on the second train carriage – closer view here.

On a slight side-note, ESPO’s piece formed part of his A Love Letter To You Project which originally comprised of over 50 large uplifting typographical murals along the elevated train line in Philadelphia and since spread to other cities including London and New York.

Rumour has it that these four panels are going to get painted again soon so RUN chose to paint a series of simple pieces that reflect some of the recurring themes in his work, faces, and that are reminiscent of the work he painted on the Foundry last year.

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Stik street art in East London

Stik has had a busy 2012 on the streets with many large scale pieces around East London and the World, notably in New York, Berlin and Jordan in the Middle East.  Stik also collaborated with Dulwich Picture Gallery in reinterpreting several paintings from the Gallery’s permanent collection on the streets around Dulwich.  Read all about Stik’s Dulwich project here.

Here is Street Art London’s modest collection of Stik’s best (and biggest) street works over the last few months in East London culminating in Stik’s largest work to date in London, to be found on Scriven Street just off Queensbridge Road in Hackney.

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