The other week I was invited to participate in an Alternative Street Art tour of Shoreditch and the East End. The idea was to go around the East side of London, learn a few things about the history of places, look and photograph some street art and then have a go at printing our amazing pics on the new smallest all-in-one printer.
And that my friends, is exactly what we did. Doug from Alternative London was our street art guru for the day and after meeting up at Shoreditch High Street station, took us around to our first stop, Brick Lane. On the way we managed to see a few bits here and there, as there’s always art everywhere, be it in the shape of stickers, paste-ups or graffiti, and all the mixed media pieces in between.
There were very interesting discussions as we were walking along the way, such as the difference between graffiti and street art – graffiti is all about claiming a territory (hence the tagging, which I lovingly call ‘territorial pissings’ and the fact that a lot of writers mainly do intricate murals with their names) and street art is a lot more inclusive and more about artistic expression. Something along these lines, anyway. The fact is that graffiti has always existed (remember Pompeii?) but the current form we all know has its roots in the late 70’s in New York and has evolved alongside hip-hop culture and can in some instances be considered an act of vandalism, with terrible consequences for anyone who is caught doing it. Watch the documentary Style Wars if you are interested in learning a bit more about the history of modern graffiti and its hip-hop roots, it’s well worth it.
Little doodling critter by Noriaki.
Our guide Doug showing us a piece by Jimmy C, while talking about the importance for street artists to finding their own style and voice. Little mermaid by Saki and Bitches, one of my favourites of the day (I have a thing for mermaids).
A gaggle of bloggers had just been set free, to take photos of everything. And so we did. Artwork in the background by Pad 303.
Doodles by Sell Out. I love these pieces because of the layers upon layers of paper, posters and whatever else that have been ripped, creating these unique textures and shapes, that the artist uses to his advantage to create his crazy looking faces. I particularly like the first one, with the skull in the middle.
Sometimes these murals can be hard to read but this one is pretty obvious that was made by Tizer, an artist that’s been around since the 80’s. Saw him paint at Meeting of Styles a few months ago and it was great to see the process evolving.
Stickers are also an important part of the street art culture but can also be used as a political propaganda tool (see the anarchist sticker) or even by football groups on tour. I love sticker culture and finding a new sticker I’ve never seen before is always fun and exciting – and something new to put up on Instagram. In fact, I like stickers so much, that I’ve started making my own.
This is probably my favourite sticker of the day – nothing like a North Korean dictator with their amazing hairdos to cheer up one’s day. The killer Ice Cream was also a fave, its simplicity and expression quite appealing to my weirdo tastes – it’s got that perfect mix of funny/cute/creepy that I love so much.
If you haven’t seen Pablo Kiran‘s colourful faces yet, you’re missing out. I love their simplicity and use of colour (not in this particular piece, though) and it’s definitely worth looking out for them in the usual places as they keep popping up everywhere these days. I don’t know who made the King and Queen but I thought it was very very sweet.
A very unusual piece of street art by Cityzen Kane. See below for another piece and more on this artist.
I have no idea who made the preggers lady, I’m afraid, but I thought that how it was super imposed on the shop lettering made it all the more interesting. It’s all about layers and context, sometimes. Old London mural by Ben Eine.
I always look out for Bortuskleer pieces as they always make me smile. I think the artist has accomplished what he set out to do: amuse us with his artwork.
One of the difficulties of photographing street art is avoiding the cars. Sometimes they can really get in the way – and on my nerves!
Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the artist who makes these crazy cats. Let me know in the comments section if you know, because my brain isn’t cooperating. – Edited to add: It’s Himbad
Overlaying and transforming existing artwork or scribbles is something that I always enjoy looking at.
Salvador Dali by Villanaart, an artist and friend mixing yarn bombing and embroidery techniques in her paste-ups. You can read her interview I did for Bloggeration here. I’m not sure of the name of the artist who did the paste-up on the right but if you do, please give me a shout!
Some great looking paste-ups by artists unknown to me.
This fabulous looking building was painted by MadC. When we got to this point, we discussed the gender imbalance in street art and graffiti. Doug our guide mentioned that there might be 80% guys and 20% girls in street art. Time to change that, ladies! The ‘Prada’ written on the side of the trash container made me laugh and I had to stop to take a pic, of course.
A pile of extras from Conan the Barbarian on Club Row and a little marker detail by Noriaki.
This amazing piece is by Cityzen Kane and it is worth going to Club Row just to see it. The pieces produced by this artist are some of the most original artwork I’ve seen in terms of street art for a while. It’s usually the kind of sculpture work you would see in a museum, but this one has the advantage that you can see it anytime you want and more than just seeing it, you can also touch it. See below a video of the whole process, as it’s fascinating… Not only for the craftsmanship but also for all the emotions attached to it.
Bicycles everywhere… including what seems like a camouflaged bicycle!
Cute shop windows and dog stalking down Columbia Road. We not only experimented with taking photos of street art but were also encouraged to register other moments along the way and Columbia Road has lots of interesting and colourful things to see and point a camera at.
Loving all the stripped away layers, I wonder if it will be left like that – I’d certainly just apply a coat of varnish and leave it as it is, as it looks amazing.
Old Chevrolet on Columbia Road.
Refreshments time! Unfortunately, I forgot to double check my camera and when we were about to start our walk, I realised that it was out of battery, so I had to use my phone to take all the photos. In the end, it wasn’t so bad as it made it all the more easier to test the HP DeskJet 3720 – all I had to do was instal the app on my phone and send my pics to the queue to be printed – with really good results!
The other stars of the event – the HP printers. See my pic coming out? I did a few printouts and I must say that I was well impressed with the good quality of the prints – and how they made such great souvenirs of this fun morning.
Thank you, Joe Blogs for the invite and to Currys and HP for sponsoring it.