Mike Meyer, Traditional Sign Painter

Computers are lovely but they have taken over some of the traditional crafts that took time to create to perfection. One such industry is the sign painting industry. Beautiful and decorative signs made by hand are rare to see nowadays. There those of us however who are trying to keep the skill alive.

Mike Meyer is a sign writer who still used the old school methods that were long forgotten by the digital world. Born 1989, the man has been in the letterhead painting business for over thirty years. All that experience under his belt can be seen by how he commands his work.

The Minnesota native is a professional typographer. He is well versed in the how typefaces work and for which function. They understand how to pair the right size of letters together with the right font. That is why you will find different emotions are evoked depending on how the words are written.

Like many great artists, a parent’s influenced is often the case for igniting life passions. Mike Meyer’s father was a barber who dabbled in drawings between attending to his customers. The young Mike wanting to ape his father picked up on the habit.

The obsession with letterheads exploded when he visited the stock car races and marvelled at the details on the cars. From there he went home trying to replicate everything he had seen down to the last detail. He got a part-time job in high school at a sign shop and that was when he realized that, that is what he wanted to do.

He followed his passion and went to sign school for nine months. When these nine months passed and he got certification, he went back to the shop he worked in while in high school. The shop got a new owner and things started to change rapidly.

With people losing their jobs right, left and center, it was finally his turn to be let go. It was a hard blow but still continued making signs. He had never thought of going into business on his own. So with few options left, he joined the army.

His journey has not been smooth as nothing good in life comes easy. Starting his trade took a bit of work. He started from a garage as his first sign shop. He had no customer base when he started his business, he had to go around to other workshops to look for favours.

Since he had nothing else of value to exchange for offers, he traded in his handmade signs. By the time his business was established he had a good customer base. When the vinyl cut out letters emerged in the 70’s, typographers had a problem on their hands.

The cheaper and easily accessible vinyl signs completely disregarded the time and workmanship the old method of sign writing offered. Mike Meyer persevered and until today he is still in the craft.

With the years of experience teaching oneself, Mike Meyer now goes around the world teaching guys how to do sign lettering the old way. The man who started his business in a garage now constantly busy with work.

He says that the art of typography is not dead. He sees a growth in interest especially with the curious millennials in Europe. It seems that countries like Amsterdam still have an appreciation for the art. He doesn’t do it for the money, he teaches in these workshop in order to spread the skill to more people.

His advice for those who want to dabble in the field is to observe their surroundings and decide what makes them happy. He doesn’t in mind blocks when it comes to creativity. He says you can even find inspiration in the grocery market since there are thousands of products with different letterheads and styles.

He encourages students to be open-minded as the field is still expanding with new fonts coming to view. His journey is not over either, he still meets people who teach him a thing or two.

A bigger than life personality and a steady hand, we don’t think that he will stop working or teach anytime soon. The world will always appreciate beautiful things, we thank the lucky stars that we have people like Mike Meyer who understand what it takes to make something beautiful by hand.

 

tavar zawacki

Tavar Zawacki

The dynamic world of graffiti births geniuses every day from every nook and cranny of the world. Tavar Zawacki could not escape the call into the art world. By birth, he was already surrounded by art being born from hipster parents.

Born in the 80’s, there were a lot of influences to be unique and speak your mind. He grew up with an open mind and when he turned thirteen, the world of graffiti and skateboards came knocking.

Born with a free spirit and a strong belief in what he wanted to do, the young man booked a flight to Paris at the age of 19. Armed with art supplies and all the money under his name, he began his journey.

An arrow is a symbol that he uses to represent and sign his work. When asked why he chose the arrow pointing upwards as his symbol, he simply said this “The arrow icon I painted was representational of the powerful mentality to ‘Rise Above’ fears, challenges, and anything holding you back from your goals.”

At first, the arrow is not what he used as his artist signature, he used to go by the alias ABOVE. It was in 2001 that he chose to use the arrow signature and from then it’s almost stapled to his name.

Many believe that you have to lose yourself first before finding yourself. In a new country, you meet different people who show you a varied way to live life. Tavar chose to live a nomadic lifestyle. He traveled from country to country looking for new experiences.

The mix of experiences on his 15-year nomadic culture was pooled into a source of inspiration. When you look at his work you can feel the synchronicity between the different stencil layers and text. When he finally settled in Berlin Germany back in 2014, it was time to reclaim his name.

Because he did not want to live in the shadow of the artwork that he had created in his youth, he started to paint under his real name. Finally, he felt like he had more freedom to be himself and to offer authentic expression from the pool of experiences he had amassed.

Not discrediting all the work that he had done previously, the artist continues to amaze the world. He has participated in many events in the past where people have gotten to see him work. For example, in Sweden, he painted the mural Metamorphosis on an eight-story building.

The work got attention due to the vibrant colours and arrow positioning. He said “It’s about having fun and experimenting. As an artist it’s important for me to experiment with my work, otherwise one can become stagnant. Making this mural put the arrow into a new context, giving it room for expansion of a new life.”

In 2015 he participated his largest project yet, the Incognito. The 33meter wall mural standstill today. The abstract piece is full of bright colours that are hard to miss. The piece was commissioned to commemorate the city of the Gold festival. The piece got notable mention internationally fueling his passion.

He has had exhibitions of his work and has visited over 60 countries. The transition of names in the art signature was visible in 2017 when he started using his real name in the same year, he unleashed a solo exhibition.

Launched in Berlin at Urban Spree Galerie, the collection ‘metamorphosis’ was unveiled. “Metamorphosis is about the transformation from one state into a newer dynamic one. With a lot of brutal honesty, and conviction for growth I was able to take inner inventory of what no longer served me.” Said Tavar.

He continued to say “I was able to let go of the fears that were stifling my creative progression. I was prepared for feeling uncomfortable during this metamorphosis. I was learning how to unblock my personal censors, and be valiant in painting the styles of works I’ve previously been too reluctant to paint.”

This was his first show using his birth certificate name as his artist signature. A book with the title of Metamorphosis was also unveiled later that year. The book contains Tavar Zawacki new work and also included his 2014 Detroit exhibition. The book is just an eye-opening read into the artist journey for the work presented and the things that inspired him.

The 49- year old is still young at heart and has a lot of things to look forward to. The world looks forward to seeing the artist that they knew as ABOVE transform his artwork to reflect his current perceptions.

With the arrows always pointing up, the sky is the limit for Tavar Zawacki. We can only wish him the best in his endeavours.

Mimi Choi Optical Illusion with Face Art

It is interesting that artist bloom at different stages in their lives. Some discover their gifts at a young age and some at the prime of their lives. Mimi Choi happened to pop in the scene in her 30’s taking makeup artistry to a whole new level.

The Vancouver based native creates optical illusions that would make you question your sanity. At times people are relentless that the image before them was photoshopped. None the least true because she creates all her works by her own hand.

We have seen the kind of transformation that makeup can do but Mimi Choi takes it to a whole new scale. She doesn’t paint conventional pieces on her face, she prefers 3D drawings that give an optical illusion of multiplying or almost surreal-like structures.

mimi choi face art makeup artistry

The girl who only needs mink lashes and lip balm on her downtime were not sure if doing optical illusion with makeup would be a road shed be interested in professionally.

Mimi Choi has an interesting story on how she stumbled into the makeup world. She had a passion for teaching and she enjoyed her work but sometimes life just hands you other playing cards without notice. She needed something new in her life and makeup was it.

With an idea in her head, she enrolled to Blanche McDonald and started getting lessons. She messed around with a few ideas but in reality, she didn’t take it too seriously. One sweet Halloween season she decided to try something just to test the waters. She didn’t know it then but that was how she made a debut to the world.

The picture that so many took notice of was the cracked face. The picture went viral and Mimi Choi found herself with a barrage of questions. Both believers and unbelievers of Photoshop use marvelled at the creations. She says “It was my first-ever creative makeup and, when I posted the image on Instagram, lots of people liked, reposted and shared it. That surprised me and motivated me to keep exploring and improving on this style even though it was uncommon at the time.”

Her mother supported her and encouraged her to make the career change. Finally, she quit being a teacher and dove into the profession both feet in. From then until now, she has acquired a loyal fan base all over the world. Her work gets noteworthy attention in all social media platforms and newspaper houses.

mimi choi face makeup with multiple eyes optical illusion makeup

As millions of people battle with anxiety and sleep paralysis, Mimi Choi has found a way to deal with hers. Her optical illusion pieces are what she uses to express herself. To the world, some of the images may stir difficult emotions due to their bizarreness but to the art world, her pieces are genius. She finds inspiration from everyday life. Whether it is fish in a pond or the pattern on a woman’s jacket, Mimi Choi will use it to create a sensational piece.

All that work was not in vain, as she has gotten opportunities many people dream of. She has worked with makeup giants MAC and also electronic manufacturers Samsung. Her skill doesn’t require the regular brushes people use, she uses paintbrushes so as to define more carefully.

She never stops working on her Instagram and she posts frequently. Since she does not use canvas, you won’t find her work in the gallery. Instagram happens to be her own gallery. She posts both videos and pictures of her complete works.

She insists that she is not one to follow a routine and repeat a piece. She wants to grow and be able to create original pieces daily. She looks at other artists work but she does not make it a habit.

Mimi Choi is certainly not a one-trick-pony. She has many cards up her sleeves that many people won’t see coming.  She is not only known for scary optical illusions but also elegant makeup for brides. Her limits are yet to be defined.

With only a few years in, we can’t wait to see what Mimi Choi pulls out of her magical hat. We will just remain glued to our phones waiting for her next piece of work.

bambi artwork showcasing donald trump and theresa may dancing

Bambi, the female Banksy

The art scene has enjoyed Banksy’s satirical street art all over the world. Painter, political activist and film director, Banksy has painted a number of distinctive pencil stencils. Unequivocally, a legend in the art industry.

What a man can do a woman can do better. Meet Bambi, the female Banksy. Bambi, is, however, a pseudonym of this British artist. She has grown to be a household name with her spray cans and stencils over the last eight years. Very little is known about her personal life. Just like her brother-in-crime, her identity is well hidden and sort of an adventure for art lovers at the same time. Only a select group of individuals know her true identity, namely her mother, manager, and the only and only Banksy.

bambi art

You lift my Spirit

Working in the cover of night, her wonderful pieces come to life. Despite her attempts to keep a secret identity, she has alluded to the fact that she has a successful pop career. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess who she could be.

In an interview with Daily Mail in 2014, Bambi revealed she went to the City & Guilds of London Art school, one of England’s longest established art schools. She later went on to an MA from Central Saint Martin’s School of arts. From what began as ‘childhood vandalism’, came out a successful career on the streets of London and beyond.

Bambi is said to draw her inspiration from the likes of Andy Warhol, a prominent American artist, and leading figure in visual arts and an avid collector.

Her Work

While pieces of her work going for tens of thousands of pounds, famous personalities are itching to get their hands on a piece of art from Bambi. In 2011, rapper Kanye West commissioned a portrait for his wife. Bambi, in turn, created an amazing semi-nude portrait of Kim Kardashian that sprung her into the limelight. Since then, A-list personalities such as Rihanna, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Robbie Williams (just to name a few) have all come out in support of her work and often paying hefty sums of money to own her artwork.

Despite the bevy of important people seeking to hang her artwork on their walls, Bambi has gone on record for rejecting Harry Styles request to mural walls of his house. All in order to maintain her level of anonymity in the industry.

bambi artwork

Diamonds are a girl’s bestfriend

Bambi’s other famous works are such as It always seems impossible until it’s done, to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. Usain Bolt’s To Di World and the Jubilee Tribute of the Queen, ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’. Portraying a young Queen Elizabeth II on the throne.

While critics claim she may lack in Banksy’s wit, Bambi brings out a feminine touch and a taste of color and glamour. Using modern public figures, she paints to address contentious political and social concerns in the society.

bambi artwork of little girl on side of building

Dear Santa

Over time Bambi has expressed her concerns on being referred to as ‘the female Banksy’ and therefore not being recognized for her own talent. Which speaks for itself. Citing the obnoxious male-dominated industry and society in general. Gender is important to Bambi as the message she paints out. Bambi’s use of social commentary, according to her, is to save the world by providing relevant social material to discuss current and future challenges.

I believe in Angels

Michael Sakhai, of Walton Fine Arts, is Bambi’s original gallerist. The two began working together when Bambi first walked into his gallery in 2010. Walton Fine Arts hosted Bambi’s first ever public exhibition dubbed, ‘When Banksy met Bambi’ at the Walton Fine Art Gallery in April of 2013. The main aim of this exhibition was to showcase not only the difference but the similarities in the two artists.

Over time, authorities caught up with Banksy’s paintings and had them repainted. The same fate has befallen Bambi’s artwork such as Amy Winehouse’s Amy Jade in the past with their getting defaced in the streets of Camden. Amy Jade has since been repainted and protected using perspex screen.

Bambi has also hit the headlines when her painting was stolen from a gallery in Islington, London. The five stolen stencil pieces were set to be auction the next day to assist in a charity for Art Against Knives.

Lie Lie Land

In a 2017-mural painting called ‘Lie Lie Land’, Bambi painted US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a dance pose. Made popular by the movie ‘La La Land’, the painting on the corner of 40 Cross Street and Shillingford street was met by mixed reactions from both fronts and quickly became a tourist attraction until it was painted over by city officials. Bambi’s reason for painting this mural was to highlight the current social and political injustices.

Whether her fans will get to know Bambi’s real identity remains a mystery. What is clear though is her stardom will continue to rise as long as there’s wall to paint on an audience that will take note and take action on the important issues affecting each of us from day to day.

Mark Wagner Makes Art with Paper Money

When people say money doesn’t mean a thing should definitely meet Mark Wagner. Mark Wagner is a collage artist that has caused quite some controversy regarding the material he uses as a medium for art. Many people find it shocking that he uses real money to create his intricate collages. It is also the reason why they notice and get curious about his art.

In this economy, most people would hold on to their money rather than cut it up to make art. Mark Wagner is of the belief that money has all the qualities that would contribute to great art. He points out that these bills have anti-counterfeit measures hidden in the notes which makes it the best material to work with.

Money passes around from hand to hand and therefore it has to keep up with constant wear and tear. That is why you will that during the printing process, they ensure that the high flax content is hardened and treated. This structural standard is what the artist likes compared to other pieces of paper available. Money can be contorted, glued or cut without losing definition over time.

Born in 1976, he started using dollar bills in 1999 to create collages and he hasn’t looked back. He likes to centre his work on money and issues related to money. The first thing people think when they look at his art is that is it real money? And if it is, isn’t it illegal to cut up money?

The law says “Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”

The question is, what is the intention of the artist? Is it to make the note unfit for use/circulation or is it in the name of creating art? In this case, we can clearly see what the artist is doing with his bank notes. He is yet to be arrested for cutting up notes so we doubt what he is doing is illegal.

When looking at work produced the collage artist, you would think that he has used thousands of dollars in one project. That is not usually the case. He looks at the dollar and sees 16square inches of material. Nothing goes to waste, he even keeps the smallest pieces that can be compared to confetti. This allows him to utilize the remainder of the materials he has on different pieces.

He suggests that working with money is cheaper than relying on quality paint and paper from the store. He says “Art materials are expensive. A single sheet of Fabriano Roma paper lists for $17.65, a one-ounce tube of cadmium red oil paint for $28.39. A favourite irony is that dollar bills end up being an inexpensive material—and possibly the only one that effectively gets cheaper through the action of inflation. The value of the materials is eclipsed by the amount of labour required to animate them. I pay my studio assistants more than a dollar just to cut up a dollar.”

For a man who uses the money to make art, it is very simple for him to forget its value. He says that he has to remind himself that money actually means something in the world we live in.

One day he was hungry and wanted to go eat with his studio-mate. He looked at his wallet and found it empty, on realizing this he became annoyed. The funny thing is, he had forty dollars right there on his work table. To him, it was no longer a medium of exchange for goods but a material for art.

He has various works that have been recognized and appreciated by many. Famously he made a portrait of the federal bank reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, Abraham Lincoln, the Mona Lisa, among others.  You can buy an omnibus of his collages or visit his various exhibitions.

Whoever said money can’t buy money definitely has not purchased one of Mark Wagner’s artwork. Money does not run Mark Wagner’s life, it runs his art and he could not have it any other way.

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?

brittany nicole cox, antiquarian historologist

Brittany Nicole Cox, Resurrecting Ancient Clocks

Have you ever heard of an antiquarian horologist? Well, in this century it is rather rare to find this skill set developed due to the digitization of our world. Brittany Nicole Cox, however, has found a way of resurrecting this profession and turning it into a long life passion.

She started her fascination at a young age while hanging out with her grandmother. She got little gifts like music boxes and musical snowballs that she took apart to understand how it worked.

She said “I would always take the mechanisms out of the bottom and chuck the rest of it. It was really quite special, seeing everything working, seeing how delicate it was, and fragile. Producing something that was so tangible and beautiful to me, I got a lot of comfort out of that” during an interview with The Stranger.

Although this was her fascination, she did not know that it could be studied and thus went on pursuing other things. She went to college and put her efforts into the study the philosophy of metaphysics.

Having being trained to be a jeweller, it all seemed like a strange mix of skills. While studying the philosophy of metaphysics her love for automata was sparked. Automata machines basically refer to artificial life that ran in the renaissance era.

These Automata do not depend on electricity but rather in gears that are interconnected and mobile to create motion. They can be flowers, musical boxes, animals, birds, among others. She acquired an even larger understanding when she attended the West Dean College.

The pristine college is known for its involvement in restorative arts and education. Graduating with a masters in Horological conservation, she hasn’t been able to stop since.

Her workspace is never clattered, she is well organized and meticulous. Since her work is very detailed, she has to record everything. Every time she pulls a clock or a musical box apart, every piece is accounted for.

Sometimes she gets to work with one of a kind pieces that are broken. Considering that some of these items were made in the 17th century, spare parts are a bother to find. That is when she relies on her knowledge to create these missing parts. She has seen hundreds of pieces resurrected, which fills her with joy.

In her line of work, she has worked with big institutions such as the National Trust looking to restore important artifacts. For example, she worked on the famous Pagoda clock that contained more than 600 pieces for complete restoration. The 6-month project unveiled a lot of damages to the clock but it was restored and returned to Anglesey Abbey.

Song Birds happen to be another thing that she has worked on extensively. They come in various sizes and mechanisms. She says “They seem to delight people in a way that pretty much nothing else does, everyone loves the birds.” She is working on a disquisition on the bellow feature found in all songbirds. She believes it will help other aspiring horological students to learn the craft.

“It was the most meaningful moment in my whole horological career.” Says Brittany Cox regarding on working on the silver swan. The silver swan is a priceless automaton that is 250 years old. This exceptional work of Merlin is famous all over the world. It was a checkup to see if the mechanisms were working properly but the fact that she laid her hands on it, was magical.

She does not want to sit on her knowledge. She is keen on helping others understand her craft. She has a workshop situated in south Seattle that she uses to teach classes and also work on personal projects. She teaches subjects such as gearing and engine turning which happens to be an old technique.

Her work studio is full of projects and tools indicating that is a work is constant. For many, the idea of an antiquarian horologist might be baffling but once you see those automata full restored to their full glory, it’s hard not to be amazed by their motions.

There are people in this century still making automata in this century, some simple and some exquisite with gems on them. Are you interested? Why not take a class or two, you never know when the passion will come

Remember that old is gold.

pichiavo painting mural

Artist Group: Pichiavo

Who said that classical art is dead? Who said that classical artwork would never be complemented by graffiti? If there any of you who never thought the classics and graffiti complemented each other, the Pichiavo pair will prove you wrong.

They are the ‘art cocktail masters’ infusing graffiti, classic art, while in-cooperating in sculptures, social text, and space. They are idealistic artists who believe in the complete freedom to express an idea.

These two street artists have a versatile style that is not common today. Whether on paper on canvas you will note the colour, detailed sculptures and texts that are meant to complement the piece being made. They are not like many modern artists who love to give direct messages on their artwork. Their approach gives you a lethargic almost surreal sneak peek into the past. It like the gods and goddesses come alive in their artwork.

Pichi and Avo met in the streets of Valencia Spain both of them engaging in graffiti activities. From the time they met, it was like they synchronized their lives and their artwork. They complement each other’s style like Ying and Yang.

From 2007 the pair has become like brothers. They spend so much time creating art that sometimes it is hard for their fans to tell them apart. They are inspired by the golden age of classical art and the dynamic nature of modern art.

At first, their initial focus was on graffiti based techniques. Later on, they made a decision to make art that reflected both their interest and personality. Since they were already enthralled by Greek mythology and classical art, it was easy to find a style that suited both of them.

pichi avo mural

Pichiavo has pure natural talent which is a big boost if you are trying to make notable art. The other thing that has supported their quest for unique art is the formal education that they have received. In combination, they have formal certification in fine arts and design.

Their work is not politically or religiously inspired and thus have gotten the opportunity to work in many countries. They are true to themselves and tend to shy away from artistic egocentrism. Artistic egocentrism is responsible for personal rows between artists among other qualms. Everyone wants to be the best and have ownership of the centerpiece.

Since they were not trying to go the traditional route, they came to the agreement to paint as equals. Whether they are working on a wall or a canvas they always try to have all the right settings.

pichi avo mural

During an interview with Bombing Science they stated “In terms of walls, we like to know where is the wall and see the environment, ones we have that we play a lot, normally with concepts related to mythology as part of the classical art in base on that, we do a lot of research our self-traveling searching for sculptures and we use that for our work, ones we have the idea of the character we do a sketch where we work more with colors, graffiti… but ones we go to the wall all that is just a reference as we normally freestyle all the background, so at the end, we have freestyle work and more planned work.”

With this kind of detailed work, they have traveled the world to share their art. From Germany, the UK, Belgium, Greece and many other countries. They are yet to work in the US but they have had successful gallery shows in the country.

pichi avo stadium mural

In the past, they have contributed their showmanship to creating notable murals. They were involved in creating the 2016 dolphin stadium mural and the Bowery wall in New York City. They are not done yet however, they have more shows and artwork coming your way.

They continue to evolve their style daily ensuring that they fully develop the concept of their ideas. They are not only an artist but normal people as will engaging in hobbies most of us like. They love to surf, engage in sports, music, and readings in between creating their art based empire.

The world is full of possibilities for this two Spanish artist as they continue to dive into the world of classical and modern art. We can only act as an audience at a great show waiting for the next unveiling.

Practice makes perfect, and at the level of skill that these two work, there is no telling what is next. Watch this space.

 

blek le rat xavier prou painting

Artist Spotlight: Blek le Rat

Xavier Prou or popularly known as Blek Le Rat, a French graffiti artist was born on the 15th of November 1952, in Boulogne-Billancourt, western suburbs of France. Dubbed “The father of stencil graffiti”, Blek Le Rat attended the École Des Beaux Arts in France before graduating in 1982. He is said to be an inspiration to many stencil artists for years such as Banksy and Invader. He is also nicknamed ‘Banquesy’, the French Banksy.

Le Rat gathered inspiration from Blek Le Roc, a French Comic about American trappers during the Revolutionary War and adopted part of the name for his own. Le Rat begun his art in the streets of Paris around 1981 painting rats.  He described his rats as, “only free animal in the city, one which spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art”. Eventually settling for the “rat” name as an anagram of “art”.

Before he graduated, Le Rat visited New York and fell in love with the city’s street art and graffiti in 1971. He returned to France determined to make a difference. And that he did. As he didn’t feel New York’s still would suite his hometown, he decided to go a different route and develop a unique style for Paris. At that time, no artist was using stencils for their work and here’s why Le Rat stood out of the pack. Most street art is deemed illegal and comes with hefty fines. Le Rat didn’t want to spend so much time on the streets due to the police, and hence the genius use of stencils to make it even faster.

example of blek le rat stencil art

The Rise of the Stencil Graffiti King

Canadian artist, Richard Hambleton brought his work to Paris from the US in the early 80s. At this time, Blek Le Rat was already doing his black rats stencils and was inspired by Richards’s larger pieces. So, he began making larger pieces of art and even self-portraits.

Blek creates all his stencils by hand to ensure a perfection and best use street art use. He is credited as the first person to create life-sized stencils and transforming stencils from the then basic imagery done by most artists.

The first meeting of the urban art movement and graffiti was held in Bondy, France in 1985. Blek Le Rat, Leonard Hilton McGurr was known as Futura, Sylvain Perier also known as SP 38, Miss.tick and Olivier Rizzo aka Speedy Graphito, were among those in attendance.

In 1991, Blek dedicated a replica of Madonna di Loreta, by Caravaggio an Italian Baroque master to his then future wife, Sybille. This image is Le Rat’s oldest known artwork. In the making of this replica, the French police identified and arrested Le Rat. This brought about his subsequent use of premade stencils, which made the use more efficient in speed and also avoiding the larger fines that came with being caught in the act.

blek le rat example of stencil art

Competition or Comparison?

Although the two have never met, much comparison has been done in the industry between Blek Le Rat and Banksy artworks. Prou has definitely had influence over Banksy. In the past, Banksy has been quoted saying, “Every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier”. Le Rat’s response to this sentiments was , “People say he copies me, but I don’t think so. I’m the old man, he’s the new kid, and if I’m an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it”. Their relationship has been mainly based on rivalry and admiration and increasingly unstable over the years.

blek le rat ballerina

Despite these sentiments, Le Rat has been quoted expressing his “anger” with Banksy in a Graffiti Wars documentary by Channel 4. He has publicly expressed his disappointment with Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats. While some could argue Banksy made Le Rat famous by taking on most of his previous work intentionally or not, Le Rat was however displeased as Banksy was reproducing his technique and style in street art. He went ahead to suggest Banksy reveals his identity for everyone to know what kind of person he was. As fans and enthusiasts hope a pray for a collaboration between the two, it remains to be seen what comes out of the two artists’ differences.

Exhibitions

Blek Le Rat’s organized his first solo exhibition in October of 2006 at the Leonard Street Gallery in London. Most of his oeuvre has been included in many collections and galleries all around the world. He also took part in the Cans Festival in 2008 were famous street artists were also featured. Prou made his American debut in 2008 at an event held in Subliminal Projects Gallery in Los Angeles, Southern California. At this exhibition, he featured his wife’s photography and three-dimensional artworks. In December 2009, Le Rat had an exhibition titled, ‘Le Ciel Est Bleu, La Vie Est Belle’. Which translates to ‘The sky is blue, life is beautiful.’ This exhibition mainly covered his work from the early 80s to 2009. In a bid to bridge the divide, he went ahead to exhibit 25 unique lithography monotypes and large-scale artworks as well.

With a career spanning an impressive 30 years, this artist has no intentions of stopping anytime soon. As signaled from previous interviews, “I will never stop. Ever. Unless there was something wrong with my legs. But 30 years is a long time. It’s a lifetime. This is my life”. Prou still commands a great deal of influence in today’s guerrilla style art movement and street art. No doubt his name will be revered for many years to come.

Fredric Harwin – Ocularist

Heroes don’t have to be the typical character portrayed in movies. Heroes can come from every walk of society. Fredric Harwin, MSc, BCO, BADO, FAMI has changed the lives of many people. Through his world-class services, he has become a renowned ocularist. His work is so detailed and full of passion, ensuring that his patients get nothing but the best.

He is responsible for making cool almost real looking acrylic prosthetics that when worn could be mistaken for a functioning eye. Losing an eye has to be a very traumatic experience for anyone since it is the tool in which we use to look into the world.

For Fredric Harwin, he believes that everyone has the right to belong. People with eye impediments tend to be ignored by the society. For them to feel comfortable they have to find access to natural, nontoxic prosthetics that durable.

To begin with, he achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University. He then went over to Michigan University to collects a master’s degree in biological and medical illustration. He was lucky enough to have his first job at Wayne County General Hospital.

He didn’t know it at the time but his work as a medical illustrator was going to serve him when he plunged into ocular prosthetics. In his work, he got the chance to contribute to a two-volume atlas based on cardiac surgery.

He personally had to attend all these surgeries in order to get all the details. At times he even had to attend the same procedure twice. The meticulousness of his work as a medical illustrator can be seen in all of his work including the famous prosthetics.

During that time he got interested in the world of prosthetics. He came up with the idea of opening a clinic for facial prosthetics at the Oregon Health Sciences University. Like all smart people do, his research took him on a journey. He visited various clinics in the span of a year to make sure he understood all the ways to do these prosthetics.

In the midst of making different prosthetics, he came to the conclusion that he really enjoyed making the eyes. From there he has not stopped. He has various patients waiting for his services that are usually detailed.

Generally, he spends 8 hours, 4 sessions before the final product is complete. The client gets to see him working which creates a bond between them and ensures that the details are as close as can be. Making one prosthetic has twelve steps, at the end, the client gets a prosthetic that fits like a glove. The eye is very detailed that you could see layers and blood vessels just like a normal eye would have.

The combination of art and science can clearly be experienced from his work. He customizes each prosthetic with a symbol that means something for the client. It may be a rabbit or a sunflower, it doesn’t matter, Fredric Harwin will do it for his clients.

His talents don’t end there. When he discovered the world of oil paints and canvas, his possibilities became larger. Being that he is a firm believer that art and science can work together, he believes that nothing can stop him from making his clients feel good.

example of ocularist work

His artwork is dreamy and intricate with detail. He says that his favorite things to paint are trees. Since he has been illustrating blood vessels most of his life, he integrated them into his tree paintings. It’s not only trees he paints, you can see landscape, vibrant color and immaculate detail.

Just like he is a lover of art, he is a lover of science. He has accomplished a lot having the opportunity to work at a professor in several well-known universities. Currently, he still runs his clinic and he is an assistant professor at John Hopkins Medical School. He even finds time to the president of The Center of Ocular Prosthetics.

The look on his face when he sees a satisfied customer is priceless. For him, it’s not all about the money. It is just about helping his clients feel comfortable in their own skin and live normal lives.

ocularist example 2

For those who are looking for a customized prosthetic eye, there is hope. With technology evolving every day, there is a chance that more people like Fredric Harwin will be able to avail these services to the multitudes to need them. For more information, check out Frederic’s website www.fredharwin.com.