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Colossal Media and The Commercial Artist: Are Big Advertising Firms Helping or Hurting Street Art?

The difference between art and advertising is often a lot blurrier than people think. Especially as the world gets more transparent, we have better glimpses into the background lives of artists, the influence of producers on movies, songwriting collectives on music, and much more. We sometimes favour the people who haven’t “sold out,” the ones who can now live off their own artistic pursuits without relying on a day job, but this is no longer the type of world we live in. The fact is many artists come out of school eager for work but find very few opportunities, clutching to the romantic ideal of the starving artist is not only silly, it gives you stomach pains.

When we turn this romantic gaze to street art, worrying about the relationship between public art and private business, things get very complicated. Graffiti has an underground feel to it, like the rebellious cousin of art gallery paintings, and graffiti is in turn persecuted for its existence. Governments wash graf off buildings, set increased limits on where and when artists can write, and sponsor professional street artists for beautification pieces around town. This all contributes to an underdog feel of street artists, a persecuted underground community just waiting for their chance in the spotlight. What people forget is modern street art started as advertisements, not tagging, and that street art is literally everywhere, and that is something to celebrate.

You’ve seen evidence of the old street art all around town, on old brick buildings pointing to the local pharmacy and old glass windows with Coca-Cola ads. Street art was a prominent way to advertise. Before massive printed billboards, hand-painted ads on buildings were the easiest way to use some wall space to drum up business. And while many artists are wary of the commercialization of street art, eager to “legitimize” their trade with tags, gallery showings, and by bringing their graf sensibilities to other art forms, the relationship between ads and graffiti has always been around.

So it’s hardly a surprise that companies like Colossal Media exist, advertising companies that specialize in hand-painted ads, and they’re a great place for young artists to get practical experience while getting paid, something difficult for anyone with an Arts degree, especially a Fine Arts degree. As North America’s largest hand-painted advertising company, Colossal is at once a sign of the times and a harkening back to graffiti’s beginnings, skipping the romantic idealism in between to help painters get some practical experience and explore their art in a new way. Sure, they’re told what to paint, but the in-between space between expectation and result is a fun playground for any artist willing to learn and explore.

In a way, Colossal Media is a paragon of the debate on whether constraints encourage art or discourage it. On the one side, we have genre artists, people who find inspiration in re-packaging familiar tropes rather than starting fresh. On the other side, there’s the ideal artist: someone with a unique vision who is recognized for their obvious talent and free to create when and how they want. They push the world forward, exposing new ways of looking at our surroundings for a change. And while it’s easy to put artistic people on opposite ends of a spectrum, rarely are they mutually exclusive.

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2014 Roskilde Graffiti Camp

For a graffiti artist, there’s little better than friends, paint, and an endless supply of surfaces to write on. It taps into everything that makes street art great: companionship, artistic collaboration, limitless potential, and, naturally, fun. Nothing quite makes street art as good as doing it with people and getting plenty of space to do it. In many places around the world, this is simply impossible. Laws condemn graffiti, keeping groups small and disconnected while removing any tags and writing they find. In some cases, this makes dedicated artists seek new, more dangerous canvases to write on. So when an event like the Roskilde Graffiti Camp comes along, artists tend to sit up, take notice, and create.

The Roskilde Graffiti Camp was started a couple of years ago by a small and dedicated group of people in Sweden. It’s a place where artists could come and hang out, paint some graffiti, and grab some cold beers after a hard day’s work. It’s only been happening for a couple of years, but the 2014 Roskilde event was easily its biggest, most ambitious, and best attended event. The organizers managed to snag an entire sea container’s worth of shipping cans, each their own different colour, for the event. That adds up to literally kilometres of blank canvas for artists, not a bad way to start a festival.

Past that, the event featured musical performances and more to keep artists and other attendees occupied when not painting or looking at graffiti. Of course, the most fun to be had was during the day, where artists could get involved in collaborative projects and large-scale solo efforts. Watching these pieces unfold over the day was in itself a treat. The end products, as you can see, are absolutely incredible.

Roskilde invited artists from around the world to join in on the fun, including Tizer, Vans the Omega, Sket185, Karski, Beyond, Soten, Rasko, and many more. In all, over 40 artists were there to paint the thousands of feet worth of containers. The results were a mash up of great ideas and distinctive styles, each more interesting and intricate than the last. The friendly competition pushed these artists to prove themselves, but also to absorb other styles, techniques, and approaches. Some of the pieces stand as a testament to the power of cooperation and, in some cases, are some of the best work these artists have ever produced.

The Roskilde Graffiti Camp is yet another example of what can happen when artists are left free to create, collaborate, and engage with each other. Not only did attendees have a chance to look at some international talent as they were writing, getting a behind-the-scenes look into their creative processes, the artists had the opportunity to learn from each other. Friendly competitions and multi-artist projects left us with some of the most unique street art we’ve ever seen. And when an event like this is run by experienced and professional organizers, the energy and excitement is tangible.

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Street Art View

I saw a quote awhile ago about the internet: “I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.” From Twitter spats to Buzzfeed lists on our Facebook walls, this is kind of true, but the first part of the quote, the “accessing the entirety of information known to man” part is what makes the internet so exciting. Thankfully, Red Bull has decided to put that idea to good use for street art.

Described as “Google meets graffiti,” the Red Bull Street Art View is like a Google Maps of street art, showcasing, collecting, and cataloguing the best street art from around the world. Basically it asks users to upload pics of their local street art into a Google Maps-style database for people to easily explore street art around the corner and around the world. It proves that street art is not only pervasive, but it’s a global phenomenon, and its enthusiasts are all over the world.

The database is searchable by location and artist, so if you want to see where Banksy’s graffiti was in New York, you can find every known piece with a quick search. Or, if you want to see the extent of Os Gêmeos’ impact and prevalence in São Paulo, then you can search for them on their home turf. Plus there’s the added benefit of archiving these pieces. Since street art is continually erased, either by governmental departments or individual property owners, the Street Art Map keeps a digital archive of a city and artist’s work. It’s like a portfolio, both for an artist and city, that anyone can access at any time.

One of the most interesting parts of the map is looking at how different style have impacted different parts of the world, which areas seem to breed unique visionaries and others that are still under specific artists’ shadows. And the mood of any given city can be captured in just a few pictures. In Halifax, for example, a beautiful large painting of a bridge is right next to a scrawl supporting civil labourers. For a classically blue collar town with a long artistic history, these two pieces side-by-side make sense, and speak to the city’s history and values.

So what the street art map shows us is not only individual pieces, but another way of looking at a city, it’s history, and how and what it finds appropriate for expression. It helps document pieces in the eternal erasing of beautiful street art, keeping digital records of different pieces, but it lets us walk through the city with its underground arts scene at the forefront. And it also shows that the relationship between artist and corporation isn’t necessarily employer-employee, but companies can take an active step in preserving and encouraging an art form that’s everywhere but also transient, recording and celebrating the ways street artists make art that can beautify and challenge.

stephane jaspert painting on rocks

Stephane Jaspert

About 5 years ago, I briefly stayed in Montreal for a program to learn French. The entire course was filled with people from across Canada. By and large, it was unsuccessful as we were much more interested in Montreal and the various intoxicating substances we could ingest in the city, but I do remember one instance where we went to Old Montreal. My group were excited, I wasn’t as much, and they tried to convince me one of the great things I could see was cobblestone streets. As someone who lived in Scotland for a year, I can tell you this: cobblestone streets are annoying. They’re uneven, almost always poorly maintained, and they’re just a pain to walk on. Old Montreal was filled with cobblestone streets, but thankfully there was a lot more interesting things to do than wait to roll my ankle.

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But I think if Stephane Jaspert had been in Montreal before I arrived, I would’ve been psyched to see cobblestone streets for the first and only time in my life. You see, Jaspert makes these uneven ancient streets interesting by doing something most cities refuse to do: replacing the stones.

Stephane Jaspert takes old pieces of cobblestone and repaints them with pictures of anything from iPad screens to blocks of Swiss cheese. These replacement stones turn old, dilapidated streets into something interesting again, less an obstacle and more a hunt for something new to experience. And while history buffs and my friends heading to Old Montreal may see this as some kind of desecration, I see it as making the most of a bad situation. Jaspert’s cobblestones encourage you to walk the streets, to take in the town as you hunt for small, almost throwaway art hidden in the cobblestone streets.

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The project started in 1999 when Jaspert, already with a decade of professional artistry behind him, decided to start painting cobblestones. He made contacts at the local public works department and soon after set about painting the stones and replacing old ones. In general, he starts working on the pieces without a clear idea of what he’ll do, taking in the shape and size of each stone to see what he can make. He then uses gouache or tempera that is sealed with an oil varnish spray, giving the pieces an extended life. After all, they’ll probably have cars and people walking all over them. Depending on the piece, Jaspert will use just one side, as is the case in his iPad screen or recreation of Picasso’s “Guernica,” or more sides, like his piece that resembles a very thick encyclopedia.

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To date, photos of nearly 200 of Jaspert’s cobblestones exist, which may or may not represent his output in the 15 years he’s dedicated to the project. According to him, he’s found his life’s work and plans on painting cobblestones “until my death.” The potential does seem nearly limitless, and it certainly makes for an interesting and mobile experience for the audience. Hopefully, he’ll keep leaving little treasures for people for years to come.

motoi yamamoto executing salt artwork

Saltworks: Motoi Yamammoto, Memory, and Mazes

We here at MuralForm love art, not just wall murals and street art, so when something truly inspiring comes across our path, we have to share. Today, that thing is an item in everyone’s home turned into incredible art. It’s called Saltworks and it’s an ongoing project by Japanese artist Motoi Yamammoto that uses only one ingredient: salt.

Traditional Japanese funerals sometimes feature salt. Funeral goers will throw salt as an act of cleansing, which is where found his inspiration for Saltworks. Yamammoto grew up in Hiroshima and worked on the docks until he was 22 years old and able to support himself on his art, but it was six years later that a traumatic death in his family inspired him to make something beautiful. His sister died when he was 28 of a complicated form of brain cancer, leaving him devastated. Now he uses only salt to create beautiful patterns and incredible sculptures and each one can be seen as a method of cleansing himself, a way to grieve and think about life.

saltworks-labrynth

Most of his sculptures are extremely intricate labyrinths that takes hundreds of hours to complete, but each starts with Yamammoto thinking about his sister’s cancer. He takes 3-dimensional brain scans for his inspiration and flattens them for a floor exhibit. From there, he improvises the design as he works, leaving in imperfections and mistakes as a way to record the experience itself and, after the piece has been viewed for several weeks, he invites patrons to help with the cleanup. Together, they sweep up the salt, put it all in jars, and throw it all into the ocean, leaving a clean slate for Yamammoto to start anew.

For Yamammoto himself, the salt mazes are a connection to memory. In a recent interview, he explained that “drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings.” The art itself becomes a lived experience, one that is pushed away when it’s moment is over.

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What makes Yamammoto’s art so powerful is its stunning complexity using an extremely mundane medium. We all have salt in our homes but unlike many common items, salt has a dense history and cultural significance around the world. By harnessing salt’s unique qualities, both in its own makeup and cultural importance, Yamammoto blends the mundane with the mystifying, tapping into an audience’s awe at his talent but also the materials itself. A perfect blend of talent and artistic beauty, form and content, and in doing so, he connects to other people’s memory, whether that’s the shared wonder that salt takes up in our cultures and practices, or deeply personal matters of grief, memory, and time.

examples of ghost signs on side of buildings

Ghost Signs: Remnants of Days Gone By

If there’s one singular truth about street art is it fades. No matter what you do, how you preserve it, or how often you come to touch it up, murals and signs will eventually disappear. They’ll be cleaned up, removed, the building may be bought and demolished or renovated, and the art moves away. Sure, we can try to make it more permanent, like when someone removes an entire wall to sell a Banksy graffiti, but by and large street art fades.

But while paintings fade, they sometimes won’t disappear entirely and that’s where Ghost Signs comes in. The idea of a ghost sign is fairly simple and something we’ve all seen: those old painted advertisements on old buildings. Ghost Signs, with capital letters, is an online database that collects snapshots of ghost signs for people to look at. The signs come from around the world from New Mexico to Portugal and are most often advertisements and shop names, sometimes for things we can no longer even advertise, like cigarettes or chewing tobacco. The paint has peeled away, but the trace of old street art remains, almost like a shadow or shade of what was once there. It takes us back to older times, when billboards were painted, not printed, and they were made to last. As writer Rebecca Solnit once said, “Ruins are the unconscious of a city.” Ghost signs are the literal writing of the unconscious in our cities’ histories.

The next time you’re strolling around your town, look for old signs. They’re usually higher up, often painted on brick, and harken back to at least the 60s, before regulations and bans made this particular style of painting nearly impossible. It’s like flipping through old issues of Punch magazine or stepping into the early days of Mad Men. The rules weren’t the same and advertising was less a science and more an abstract attempt to connect. You’ll find the signs in the least likely places and you may find yourself in neighbourhoods that still like the idea of a brick building instead of a skyscraper made of steel and glass. Chances are there’s a great coffee shop nearby as well, which makes for a fun weekend activity.

Ghost Signs gives us small snapshots of the paradox of urbanization and urban decay, the fact that things can fade but still remain. Many of these old signs are attached to condemned buildings, places that no one has bought up or felt the need to remodel or remove. So instead they sit there, a testament to days gone by when the signs and the buildings were newer, when the world operated just a little differently, when sign painting was a way many artists paid their bills. As sign painting becomes more and more a lost art, Ghost Signs documents the history around the world for everyone to see. Perhaps it may even inspire people to take up a brush once more and make beautiful street signs again, ones that in the future will remind people of our present.

sign post forest signage

Watson Lake’s Sign Post Forest: A Unique Art Project in Canada’s North

Watson Lake is a small town in the Yukon, not far from the British Columbia border. It’s a small town with a population under 1000. Most people make their money in the lumber industry and it sits on the Alaska Highway, a rest stop for people making pilgrimage to Alaska. It’s a quaint town with a long history and it’s the last place you’d expect to have a famous roadside attraction that sees thousands of visitors every year.

Watson Lake is home to the Sign Post Forest, a collection of local and international sign posts that have grown from one sign pointing to Illinois to literally an entire forest of signposts. You’ve probably seen the signpost trees in towns like Halifax, Philipsburg, and other places around the world. Signs that point to the direction of famous cities and state their distance. Well, Watson Lake has a forest of these posts numbering over 100,000.

The Sign Post Forest began in 1942, when a homesick American GI working with the 341st Engineers was ordered to repair a broken sign post. It was a simple job, one that was frequently needed as heavy-duty machinery used roads built for much smaller vehicles. But this particular GI was homesick for his hometown of Danville, Illinois. So, instead of simply fixing the sign, the GI personalized it, putting an extra sign pointing to Danville and stating its distance. Several other people thought this was a good idea and added their hometowns to the sign. Soon, the idea snowballed into what it is today: a forest of signs pointing to nearly every conceivable place on the planet.

In 1942, the Sign Post Forest was a small idea, now it spans two acres, comprising of over 100,000 items ranging from street signs to welcome signs, signatures on dinner plates, and international license plates. Ranging from quirky to seintimental, the Sign Post Forest reflects the town’s daily visitors: people travelling through from different parts, catching a small glimpse into Canada’s most remote areas.

What makes the Sign Post Forest is not its idea, which is one adopted around the world, but its age, method, and adoption by other people. It’s more than a collection of objects, it’s a part of what makes Watson Lake unique. An isolated area where people are prone to homesickness, the Sign Post Forest is an example of how a small, seemingly insignificant place is genuinely connected to the rest of the world. The idea is organic as well, a collection of things from people who want to participate in this small town’s unique art project, and it reflects how Watson Lake itself is a welcoming town despite its location and relative isolation. Watson Lake’s Sign Post Forest is visited by thousands every year despite its remoteness, which makes its art project that much more important for its residents. The signs may point to other places, but they show how everything is really no too far.

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The Walldogs: Bringing Towns to Life with Mural Art

Imagine you live in a small town with limited resources but lots of character. You have old buildings that need a bit of sprucing up or entire streets that are wearing their age on their sleeves. The town looks like it’s on the cusp of being beautiful and it just needs an extra push to get that look it once had. With some extra life added to the town, you could attract new visitors, maybe even some new residents, and get some fresh blood into your home so more people can share in what makes your town so special.

Walldogs is a business and art collective that’s dedicated to that exact problem. Coming from all over the world, the Walldogs descend on a town for a short time and blitz a whole bunch of new murals for a town. They take old buildings and give them new life and, in turn, can help towns revitalize and start on a new path with a new look. Think of it as a new haircut but for an entire town, and it’s been a very popular service all over North America.

Here’s how it works: A town that wants to liven up their look contacts Walldogs. Walldogs sets them up with a project coordinator and event host who work with the city to decide on the murals, where the murals will be, and how many the town wants. The Walldogs then supply all the paints while the town itself supplies the other necessary materials. Then, over the course of a few days, the Walldogs come into the town, enlist local volunteers to help, and paint all the murals. Some towns turn the event into a festival of sorts, bringing in music and entertainment to help drum up support and excitement for the event. Then when it’s all said and done, the Walldogs leave and the town has a new set of murals for everyone to enjoy.

The Walldogs is a for-profit service but one that helps bring towns together and, compared to other revitalization methods, is incredibly inexpensive. Unlike some plans, which involve long construction, delays, and often times imported labour that divides a town rather than unites it, the Walldogs is about the community itself. The murals are designed with the town’s history at heart and people are encouraged to join in on the fun. The Walldogs themselves seem to welcome anyone that’s willing to “show up to an event with a brush in hand and jump in.” By uniting the population through art, and by using experienced painters as project leads, Walldogs can bring an entire town together and give it a new lease on life.

The Walldogs themselves are an art collective that are all passionate about murals and street art. Most of them own their own sign shops and do Walldogs as a special side project. The movement is now over 20 years old, with dozens of towns reaping the benefits. So if you live in a small town that may need some sprucing up, consider street art and consider the Walldogs.

hass hahn favela painting

Favela Painting

Despite being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Brazil still struggles with poverty. Many of the biggest cities in the country are surrounded and embedded with favelas, another word for slums, that are home to millions of people. These favelas suffer from problems all too familiar for poor neighbourhoods: violence, lack of access to services, forced migration, and more, but they are also home to blossoming cultural movements, distinct artistic qualities, and hope. People now travel to Brazil to explore everything the country has to offer, including the favelas, and Dutch artists were just two of these people. The difference is these artists stuck around to help the community through involvement.

Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, collectively known as Haas&Hahn, visited Brazil in 2005 to shoot a movie about favela hip-hop culture. Haas&Hahn were fascinated by the culture, art, and especially the people themselves, so they decided to give back to the communities that hosted their filming in a unique way: mural art. A great project for a section of Brazilian culture people seem intent on covering up.

The favelas have come under increased skepticism and persecution over the past decade, especially as Brazil geared up to host the FIFA World Cup this year. Programs to cover up, quite literally, the slums for a good face on the international stage have been in place since 2009. Originally designed to curb the growth, especially since favelas have been growing at a rate larger than the cities to which they are attached, many detractors of the walls also noted they did a pretty good job of blocking them from view. Many pointed to the upcoming soccer tournament, but others speculate that favelas also lower housing prices. In a country with severe economic disparity, the solution for some of the elite is to simply not address the problem. Unfortunately, the problem accounts for over 6% of Brazil’s population, is growing steadily, and getting international attention. For a part of Brazilian culture that is literally being covered up, mural art gives some colour and attention to these famously eclectic districts and the people that live there.

Before travelling to Brazil, Haas&Hahn had a history of big projects, painting entire buildings with murals that fit with the local culture and brought some flavour to neighbourhoods. But this was mostly in their native Netherlands and Europe. Brazil was a little bit different.

As much as favelas have a blossoming culture, they also have very real problems. Drug lords can run entire favelas, where they use the youth as armed muscle they affectionately call “soldados.” Getting into a favela can be dangerous and difficult. Doing something other than looking can cost you your life without the right permissions. So Haas&Hahn had to win over the people and the resident drug lords in their fight, which may be in part why only 3 such projects happened.

But permission was and is the name of the game with Haas&Hahn. Each project required permission from the residents of the favela and the people whose homes they would be painting. Designs were kept loose so residents could have an input in the colours and anyone who didn’t want to participate had their wishes respected.

Since 2007, Haas&Hahn have done a total of three favela painting projects in Rio de Janeiro, each with their own flavour and direction.

boy kite mural in favela

The first, “Boy with Kite,” is a smaller and more conventional mural. The mural is essentially its namesake, but the kite itself is nonexistent. Instead, a boy with a string looks out past the blue sky of the mural and towards the rest of the city, drawing the eye way from the mural and towards the favela itself. Rather than cover it up or try and distract from the slum, “Boy with Kite” encourages the viewer to see the surroundings.

mural on hill of a favela Vila Cruzeiro

The second project is substantially more ambitious, tackling a series of stairs that lead up the hill of a favela Vila Cruzeiro, one of Brazil’s most dangerous and most populated slums, with an estimated population of between 40 000 and 70 000 inhabitants. Rio is a particularly hilly area of the world and the Vila Cruzeiro has a network of steps that lead all over its maze of streets, alleys, and walkways. For their second project, Haas&Hahn recruited local youth to turn one of these sets of stairs, and accompanying drainage pipes, into a cascading river of koi fish. Called “Rio Cruzeiro,” the project is substantially larger than “Boy with Kite” and incorporates the often fluid feel of a favela, which is often built without proper zoning or building codes, giving them a haphazard feel.

praca cantao mural project

The most Haas&Hahn favela painting project Haas&Hahn was “Praca Cantao,” a full-scale mural project that painted the houses of an entire square. Painted with vibrant colours often associated with the favelas, the Praca Cantao square boats a vibrancy seen in the city’s energy and citizens, but not often in their actual homes.

But the key part of the favela paintings is possible not even the art itself, but the community involvement. The artists worked with local youth to give them hands-on painting skills and experience, something many have put on their resume to find employment away from their drug-controlled neighbourhoods. Rather than simply do something they perceive as nice for a group of people, Haas&Hahn got involved, worked together with the people, and left them with something to look at but also some skills to move forward.

Since Brazil, Haas&Hahn moved to slums a little closer to home, Philadelphia, where the poverty level is 167% above the national average. There, the murals have gotten even bigger stretching over 50 storefronts on two blocks. Organized with MuralArts, a program we’ve talked about before, Haas&Hahn’s murals continue to give a city once famous for smokestacks and steel production a new look. Other projects have also popped up in New York, Miami, and the Shenzhen Biennale in China. As for what’s next, Haas&Hahn raised over $100,000 to realize their dream project, painting an entire favela, on Kickstarter last year. They are currently scouting locations, deciding to start after the World Cup ended.

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High Art, Angry Vandalism, and Murals: The Life and Times of Zevs

By the time French street artist was featured in Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop in 2010, he had already done his first solo art show in Hong Kong, defined the French street art scene, and almost been run over by a train. That last incident was how he got his name. After all, it was the Zeus train that nearly hit him while he was painting inside a train tunnel and decided that such a close brush with death should be remembered, and no moment should be wasted. And no one would accuse Zevs of squandering his life. He’s probably one of France’s most important art figures, one that never shies away from the deeply political.

Many of the artists we’ve featured here at MuralForm have gone from tagging trains or walls to art galleries and Zevs is no exception. Bridging the gap between the “high” art world and the “low,” street-level art, some would argue, has been accomplished. Banksy sells pieces in galleries for small fortunes. Shepard Fairey has turned his most iconic pieces into gallery art, and subsequently turned them into recognizable and profitable pieces seen everywhere for backpacks to campaign posters. Some even crossed over to advertising for some of the biggest companies in the world. But Zevs, he’s happier discrediting the corporate world while still pushing the boundaries of street art.

Zevs started out in Paris in the 1990s tagging anywhere he could, but two ongoing projects in particular caught the attention of the public. One, called Shadows, painted fixed shadows of various objects on the ground. Everything from park benches to wastebaskets were given permanent(ish) imprints on the ground or nearby walls. The work showed that street art wasn’t limited to walls, but could traverse other surfaces as well, a point Banksy would pick up in a few short years. His other major project, Visual Attacks, targets billboards in France, to this day spraking a debate on whether he’s a vandal or artist. Zevs would write alternate slogans on the advertisements and paint bloodied eyes on the models, disrupting the marketing with disturbing images and words. Visual attacks attacks commercialism exactly where it’s most prominently seen: advertising billboards.

zevs liquidating cc logo

Zevs continued to target commercialism and major corporations in the mid-2000s with Liquidated Logos. The project takes corporate logos and drips paint from them, giving the illusion that these logos are dissolving. The project speaks to the ever-presence of logos but their non-tangible existence, undermining their constant appearance in the street, on the screen, and at home.

Zevs art continually challenges the distinction between vandalism, street, and high art, incorporating postmodern styles and aesthetics into his artwork to push these boundaries even further. While most would condemn much of his street-level artwork for its intrusion, the very openness of Zevs’ art speaks to the constant intrusion of marketing as being unnecessarily encouraged and sanctioned by the government. His politics and prominence in Europe has let him move to art galleries, but Zevs seems continually uncomfortable with the art we’re forced to consume everyday.