colossal homepage logo

This Is Colossal: A Website for Artists

When it comes to art, there are a seemingly endless amount of web content for almost anything. Social media and other instant access platforms let artists connect to fans and consumers in ways that were previously unimagined. And in an age that seems to bring artists and their audiences closer together, especially as public art becomes an increasingly global phenomenon, websites are becoming important hubs of thoughtful curation, critique, and publicizing.

Colossal is one such website, a place where artists and artist lovers can go to check out cool and unique art projects, read interesting pieces of what’s happening in the art scene, and check out interviews and profiles of some of the best and most up-and-coming artists in the world.

Launched in August 2010 by Christopher Jobson, Colossal was founded on the idea that visual culture can be interrogated in many different ways, and should be approached with an enthusiasm and interest that takes all of its subjects seriously. Art in its many forms is discussed, including scientific approaches to visual art alongside blogs and profiles that make the discussion around art an important aspect of consuming it.

One of the aspects that makes Colossal an amazing website is its breadth of content. In a world where increasingly niche markets are springing up, and with them niche interests, Colossal takes the stance that art is interrelated and, as a result, should be seen in many different ways and formats. To this end, the website splits up its content according to style, including art, design, photography, illustration, and craft. Other kinds of artistic projects that don’t quite fit into these categories are highlighted as well in their own section, creating a space that celebrates groundbreaking, rule-bending approaches to art.

Since its inception, Colossal has gained a reputation for its thoughtful and carefully curated content. Ted Talks labelled one of 2013’s “100 Websites You Should Know and Use,” while the National Endowment for the Arts praised the site as a “must read.” Even celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris love it. The How I Met Your Mother star called it “artistic, smart, and inspiring.”

Colossal proves that art is more than an isolated topic, and rather something that intersects with the every day in important and meaningful ways. The ways in which we consume art are multifaceted, including a growing amount of scientific work dedicated to how humans and art interact, and looking at works through different lenses enable audiences to create more meaningful experiences, connect with art in new ways, and develop a deeper appreciation for many different kinds of artistic endeavours. Whether it’s a series of photographs from New York or a group of mural paintings somewhere in distant lands, websites like Colossal prove that there is a lot of important things happening in art, and that those things are worthy of thoughtful and insightful conversations.

pakistan muralist

Street Art Pakistan

Street art is all around us, from faded advertisements of days gone by to giant, beautiful murals created by some of the world’s best artists. They can carry messages of hope and love, spark political discussions, or simply make statements of time and place. Street art can be a source of beauty, of inspiration, and a chance for people to come together under a common cause.

streetartpakistan-pic6

Street Art Pakistan is an initiative by an organization called Artisan and is dedicated to using the power of street art to bring beauty to the cities of Pakistan. Like many other countries in the world, Pakistan has been subject to graffiti, and Street Art Pakistan is hoping to change the perspective on street art by painting over what is known as “wall chalking.” The illegal practice sees messages scrawled across buildings which can be divisive and frowned upon and, rather than let the practice sully the good name of street art, a few Pakistani citizens have created a collective that changes these instances into moments that beautify, unite, and, for lack of a better term, change the conversation.

streetartpakistan-pic3

The initiative started as a competition to encourage local artists and people to come up with positive and beautiful solutions to wall chalking, and has since grown to a major movement within the country. Each year, different themes are chosen so the messages can point to positive initiatives and ideas, including, according to their website, “Truck art, Education, Peace and Freedom, Provincial Culture, Gates of Lahore and Monuments, Blood Donation, Fight against Dengue, Cleanliness and Culture of Pakistan.”

streetartpakistan-pic5

The Street Art Pakistan initiative has seen great success in its relatively short existence. Started in 2011 with a small but dedicated team, the project has now grown to thousands of people. Every mural and street art piece done under the Street Art Pakistan banner is a collaborative event, using local youth and artists to design and create a positive mural that can cover up the wall chalking. To date, art by the initiative has been featured in fifteen cities spanning three provinces in Pakistan, with over twenty thousand youth participants and over 320,000 sq. ft. of walls covered. It has been praised as a positive initiative that not only helps beautify, but gives Pakistani youth the opportunity to contribute to their communities.

streetartpakistan-pic2

Street Art Pakistan is an excellent example of how murals and street art can contribute to a conversation, all while bringing positivity and beauty to city streets. For Pakistan, a country that faces many obstacles and challenges, programs that help bring hope and comfort are invaluable. Plus, the chance to bring people together in collaborative art projects helps people have a sense of purpose, direction, and the chance to see their hard work be praised and admired for years to come. As Street Art Pakistan expands, hopefully it will create an even more vibrant street art culture that shows the world how talented these artists are.

ella pitr wall mural

Artist Bio: Ella & Pitr

Great art can often come from great collaboration. The Wachowskis, The Russo Brothers, The Coen Brothers, and many other great team-ups have changed movies, and the same is true within the art world. Street art is almost always collaborative in some regards, too. Even as we spotlight individual artists, many projects are the result of minds coming together to create something better than what could be thought of individually. And while some artists have made their way on their own, and have made their distinct stamp on the world of street art, many others have done so by working together and, in the spirit of collaboration, created something otherwise impossible.

This sentiment is true with Ella & Pitr, two French artists whose work is the very definition of the collaborative spirit. The two rose to prominence in the mid-2000s in Paris, a city with a vibrant and wonderful street art community. To make their mark, the two created pieces that rely on multiple people working together in two major ways, and one of the most noticeable expressions of this is their Sleeping Giants series.

ella-pitr2

Painted around the world, Sleeping Giants is a series of extremely large murals of people lying down together. The pieces vary in their sentiment and purpose, but most use muted colours and simple shapes, an approach that makes these extraordinary pieces wonderfully ordinary, which highlights a certain beauty in a very mundane activity: sleeping.

Ella & Pitr, Lillith and Olaf, for the Nuart Festival

Ella & Pitr, Lillith and Olaf, for the Nuart Festival

The Sleeping Giants pieces gained international fame when the duo set out to create Norway’s largest mural. Called “Lillith & Olaf,” the piece features a person crouched and sleeping, with a colourful king figurine off to the side. But while the piece itself, in its construction and perspective, is beautiful, the reason it made headlines is the size. At over 225,000 square feet, the piece is easily the largest mural ever made in Norway, and it took the world by storm when it debuted in the fall of 2015.

ella-pitr3

Ella & Pitr have made a number of murals, both in the Sleeping Giants series and in other exploits that, while not quite as big, are still interesting and interactive pieces. Many of their murals play with the idea of optical illusion and perspective, and people are constantly playing around while photographing themselves in the pieces. Such an effort to interact with street art is not uncommon, but people having fun with a piece in their own way is one of many signs that a piece of street art has done its job, captured people’s attention, and created an opportunity to turn the piece into something more.

The collaborative spirit of Ella & Pitr is a great reminder of how much street art relies on groups of people over singular artists. And while many street artists have deservedly made names for themselves, it’s important to remember that people, not a single person, are integral to art. Not just because every artist needs an audience, but because great things can happen when we work together.

not a crime website homepage image

#NotACrime: The Power and Politics of Street Art

Street art is political. At its very core, the idea of painting art in public places with or without the permission of owners and governments, has placed the artform in political territory, often before the spray paint hits the wall. And while street art is increasingly part of regular, lawful modes of artistic expression, it hasn’t lost its political edge, and it’s something that people in New York City are using to discuss very real political issues facing our world, and specifically the country of Iran.

Iran, as many people know, has very strict laws when it comes to expression, whether it’s religious, political, or otherwise, and frequent quelling of expression happens all over the country every day. It’s a huge issue that impacts millions of people, not just in the streets of Tehran, but family, friends, and fellow countrymen around the world. And some street artists have used their chosen artform to raise awareness.

Cyrcle

The #NotACrime movement began in New York city and focuses on two major issues facing modern day Iran: the persecution of Iran’s largest religious minority, the Baha’is, and the suppression of journalistic freedom. According #NotACrime’s website, “Iran’s government has persecuted them since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Businesses are torched, people are fired from their jobs, thousands are harassed and jailed, and hundreds have been killed.” Baha’is aren’t allowed to teach or study at Iranian universities, and many have been forced to study in secret at great personal risk.

The second major problem is journalism and is the origin of the movement’s name and hashtag. The project started as a way to raise funds to help those who have been imprisoned, harassed, and censored, to provide these brave people with legal and psychological counselling that can help them overcome their many difficulties.

notacrime-journalism

But they didn’t stop with fundraising and are now taking to the streets, quite literally, to spread the word of the problems many of Iran’s citizens face. The awareness has taken the form of a series of murals in New York City, and has attracted the attention of celebrities and Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mark Ruffalo, Nazanin Boniadi, and Justin Baldoni.

The murals themselves have generated a lot of attention for both the movement and the issues they are speaking about, and the group has decided to democratize the movement. Their website features a handbook, which covers everything from doing street art legally to mixtures you can make for paste to tips on stencilling. In their own words, “#NotACrime hopes that a mix of old-school street art and social media pushes this cause into the public imagination.”

#NotACrime not only highlights an important issue facing a substantial number of people in the world today, it also demonstrates that public art can fight, raise awareness, and do good. It shows that artists who take to the streets are capable of making bold and important political statements. It’s something that’s part of the artform’s history, and something that must never be lost.