Artist Spotlight: FAILE

Faile is not a new name in the world of street art or high-end galleries. Their work is recognized internationally. Thanks to their partnership there are thousands of art pieces to commemorate their style and work ethic.

Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller form the artistic group under the signature of Faile. The famous duo had humble beginnings, born a year apart their friendship started when they were in high school. During those days schooling together, they always talked about working together.

In destiny’s punctual nature, things had to take a turn. The two separated, one went to New York as the other remained in an art school in Minneapolis. While McNeil was in New York he discovered a whole new world, He had never seen graffiti in the numbers that he witnessed on the streets of New York.

His curiosity sent him on a documentation spree taking pictures of the most interesting pieces he saw. He then called his friend Patrick Miller and told him to come to New York. By the end of 1999, the group Faile was official. Starting off more of a print art based group, the craft evolved and other skills were employed.

When the group started there were three members. Together with Miller and Mc Neil was a lady by the name of Nakawa. Due to circumstances best known to them, Nakawa left the group and started her own journey to success as Lady Aiko.

Their work as a group was widely known even when Nakawa was in the group. Their style which featured “large format, monochromatic, screen-printed female nudes,” Their stencil, wheat pasting combined with comic-like images stood out and introduced a new style in town.

Today, their styles shave definitely evolved maintaining their iconography and duality style while focusing on the same themes that have been recurrent in all their work. Themes like triumph/calamity or love/hate can be denoted by their artwork.

Faile has produced books, held exhibitions in museums, made notable installations such as the Wolf, and even collaborated with the clothing/ music industry. There is not much they haven’t done. They run a permanent studio to take care of work demands.

the Wolf installation by Faile

Speaking of work demands, Faile found themselves in a bit of a pickle recently with the city of Toronto.   The pair had been sought out by the transportation services of Toronto in an exercise to reduce ‘tagging’.

The city had been facing the problem of tagging walls with useless graffiti. The city had already commissioned other works previously to help reduce the tagging issue.  The pair accepted to so the work but found themselves too busy to attend to the work.

The issue arose when the people of Toronto found out that the group had sent interns to do the job. Considering that there was no shortage of homegrown artists, residents did not understand why the pair didn’t have the grace to do it themselves.

The interns did not even know they were to travel until they were informed on short notice. One intern reports “Last Wednesday Patrick [McNeil] came up to me and said, ‘How would you like to go to Toronto on Friday?’” she says. “He said, ‘It’s gonna be a lot of hard work.’ I said, ‘sure,’ and two hours later he came back with my plane tickets.”

Bathurst St mural

Many feel like the $23,000 dollars given to the pair should have been invested in a local artist. When questioned about the decision, the head of StreetARToronto said: “We hope that by inviting street artists from out of town, other cities will invite our artists too, and it gives local artists the opportunity to see the work of internationally recognized street artists.”

While that sounds like good reasoning, it is not the city’s fault that they felt snubbed. The pair should have informed the council of the change of plans so that they could take necessary measures.

There are many people who wanted to see the original Faile work on that Bathurst Street wall. Unfortunately, it was not to be so. The interns, however, did a marvellous job creating a beautiful mural that still stands today.

Admittedly, this might have been an oversight on Faile’s part but the group is still very respectable in the art world. One mistake can be forgiven as long as the group continuous observing a good work ethic.

Although they can’t classify themselves as street artists, they have definitely contributed pieces that can never be forgotten. They are ambitious and seem to have more projects coming their way. Their message is covert but their expressions are overt. And we say, why not?