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Matthew Willey painting bees

Matthew Willey – The Artist Committed to Hand-Paint 50,000 Honeybees

You might be asking, why would an artist commit himself to paint 50,000 honeybees? Well, that is the number which is necessary for a healthy and thriving hive. Matthew Willey wants to paint these in murals all around the world.

Who is Matthew Willey?

Matthew Willey on scissor lift while painting bee muralMatthew Willey has been in the art industry for about 25 years now. Throughout his career, he’s managed to bring beauty to walls of homes and businesses across the UK, Croatia and major cities in the U.S. He combines design, scenic art, and painting abilities to come up with fantastic honeybee murals that seem to grow with strokes and texture, a wing at a time.

Over the years, Matthew has mostly focused on mural painting, although he also creates some works on canvas. He has written four screenplays, and he’s a co-founder in an educational company that makes Homers’ Odyssey and Greek mythology, which students and teachers can easily access.

Achievements

Matthew Willey has made some major accomplishments in his work as a result of the excellent work that he is doing to try and save the bees. He created “The Good of the Hive“, which is not only a website but also a movement that he uses to showcase his work and create awareness about saving the bees.

He has managed to share stories of the Good of the Hive at the FAO in Washington DC, the United Nations, Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Burt’s Bees Global HQ, NEA’s podcast, the Planetary Health Alliance 2018 annual meeting in Scotland, among other places throughout the US.

Some of his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Veranda Magazine, The Huffington Post, among many media channels and publications.

How it all began

In an interview by Joe Philips at Humansandnature.org, Matthew Willey describes how he started and what drove him to the extent of trying to save bees.

One day in high school, Matt and friends found about 1,000 bees dead at the base of a hive. Matt was staggered at the impact and visceral reaction, and this considerably opened his eyes. “With all the data and research that we have, at the end of the day, we are all just human, and we react to our experiences through our five senses,” says Matt.

After carefully investigating on the issue of the 1000 bees’ death, Matt was able to find out through the help of the chief apiarist in the area that the bees had died due to exposure to chemicals.

He then began researching honeybees and came across altruistic suicide, which was an idea that fascinated him. He discovered that when a bee falls ill or feels a bit sick, it will leave the hive and fly off into the abyss just for the good of the hive.

That’s where Matthew drew the name of his famous project, “The Good of the Hive.” He describes his first honeybee-themed mural painting as something that made him realize that bees symbolize connection as well as create a connection.

He says when he started painting bees, everyone would stop and tell a bee story. Matt wants to raise awareness about the plight of the honeybee. He is quite ambitious about his project to personally paint 50,000 honeybees in murals around the world.

Collaborations

During his mural site paintings, Matthew met with one Zach Ellis, who was fascinated by the work and decided to join The Good of the Hive. Zach was on a road trip at the time, and when he learned that the next mural was going to take place at about 30 minutes from his home, he was excited, and that’s where their partnership began.

Zach was much impressed by the energy Matthew portrayed from his work and the captivating visuals of the painted bees. Since their meeting, Zach has managed to offer a lot of help and service thanks to his exceptional skills. Some of the things that Zach has been able to help out with include; photography, logistics, videography, and marketing matters, among others.

Zach was born and raised in the mid-west, and he is a facilitator, speaker and coordinator who is quite accomplished in his fields. His desire is to see passionate people connected together. It is quite clear that their meeting and collaboration has been a great and successful one.

Projects

Although Matthew is popular for “The Good of the Hive” project, he has also worked on other significant projects throughout his career. Some of his murals include the Flower Child, Burning Man, Bees 1875-1892, Honey & the Hive, 2560-2606, 1893, 1817-1874, among many others.

There are also installations that Matthew has been able to work on. They include The Swarm, Bending Hives, and Colony Expanse, which can all be seen at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC.

Media projects include:

The Good of the Hive Film

This one is about saving the world through playfulness and art. The film shows a bit about the work of Matthew Willey on how he paints 50, 000 honeybees on murals around the globe. The main focus of the film is murals at Janney Elementary School in Washington, DC. The letter of a 7-year old girl helps to create an opportunity for the uniting of her community to help preserve pollinators.

There is also merchandise sold by Matthew Willey on The Good of the Hive website, which people can purchase to help support the cause, among other things.

The work of Matthew Willey is inspiring. His good cause has inspired many, both young and old, to try and make a change in helping save honeybees for the benefit of humankind. You can check out more information on what he is doing and planning to do in the future by logging on to his website.

Mural Painting Robot

Robots do a whole lot of activities previously done only by humans. From car assembling to actual driving, farming to bartending, robots have now more than ever taken much of the work that people used to do on their shoulders. Most importantly, these machines are more efficient than us, cutting a large chunk of the time we can naturally take to accomplish a task.

Perhaps the latest application of robotic technology is in the art industry, particularly mural painting. A few companies pioneered by some leading mural artists have recently introduced wall-crawling robots that paint murals (large or small) on almost any surface. This is something that can transform cities, public spaces, communities, and homes in just a matter of days.

The name on everyone’s lips at the moment is Mikhel Joala, the inventor of the mural painting robot Albert and founder of the company Sprayprinter. Joala is a street artist originally from Estonia and he says Albert can paint murals up to 100 times faster than humans.

“It’s definitely going to change how to think about street art,” Joala said in an interview with sfgate.com.

“But I think that Albert can coexist with hand painting artists because a printed image is always going to be different than a painted one.”

How it works

The mural painting robot works much like a traditional printer, using small dots of color to create a variety of colors and details.

Robot Albert, for instance, comes in two parts. First is the printhead that carries about six cans of spray paint. The other component is the spooling mechanism with cords that attach to the printhead and which also guides it around the wall.

The spooling mechanism additionally features a built-in computer interface where images can be uploaded for printing. It means the robot does not come up with its art, but that’s something clever minds like Joala are working on for the future. As the robot drifts around a surface, it constantly sprays dots of paint onto it and eventually, an image appears.

Typically, robot muralists use an intelligent algorithm to calculate how the image will be scaled on the wall. The machine can spray 1 sq.m per minute, a super-fast application for a task that could take weeks or months if hand-painted by a mural artist.

What has been done so far?

This art technology is still in its early stages but there are a couple of works out there to show its capability. Sprayprinter, for instance, has created murals on the sides of buildings in Joala’s native Estonia as well as northern California.

In 2016, Sprayprinter painted a large mural of Albert Einstein onto the wall of a four-story office building in the company’s hometown, Tartu, Estonia. Armed with three cans of spray paint, it took the robot just five hours to complete the giant mural.

In July 2017, Joala’s prototype also painted a 30-meter high mural on an industrial chimney using five cans of spray paint, a job that took a mere 14 hours to finish. During the time, Joala said the robot can create images three times more than the size of the 30m mural. The beauty of his invention is its scalability, which he said will empower them to break the world record for the biggest mural in the world.

Last year, robot Albert painted a mural in SoMa in March, San Jose in May and two others in California on September 2018.

Another San Jose based startup Vibot was also involved in painting a two-story-high mural on the side of a building in the city’s downtown, using robot technology. Asked whether the technology is here to steal artists’ jobs, Vibot CFO Yeong-Sae said:

example of nissan ad painted by mural painting robot“We’re certainly not trying to take small platforms away from muralists, that’s for them to do. We take a much larger project, much more complex pictures that need to be done cost-effectively and in a much shorter period of time.”

In fact, Vibot’s have painted major skyscrapers across Korea, so when they say much larger projects, they mean it.

“They don’t have the ability to paint on these large walls, so they don’t get the exposure that these muralists might be able to get,” Kim added.

Bottomline

Mural painting robots are on a mission to transform plain, boring, gray city spaces into stunning points of human expression. Above all, they make light work of painting massive murals and that’s something to back up.

A worker in orange work suit stands infront of a grey painted wall next to a mural in sao paulo, brazil

Largest South America Graffiti Wall Erased

The beauty of Brazil has never stopped seducing the world into submission. From those white sandy beaches to Pico da Neblina, the country boast both of aesthetics, and football talent that till today captures millions of fans.

Among the charms that Brazil offers, is a beautiful metropolitan, claiming the position of the largest city in South America. This state is rich in culture and free expression. São Paulo, is not be underestimated as it supports 12.04 million people as of 2016.

The culture of the city can be illustrated in the art that paints the city. Along the 23 de Maio highway, your eyes feast on art like no other. The street mural displays the work of graffiti artists over 5000 square meters. It all started with Rui Amaral and 200 artists joining in creating this beautiful piece of artwork.

It’s a tale of love and danger. Amaral started his love affair with putting his artwork out there. What better audience than a highway? Millions of eyes who have nothing else but to look as they wait to get to their destinations. He used this opportunity to protest the injustices he saw were afflicting the society, and in the mean while dancing with the police.

It definitely had an impact on how the society could express itself. It became such a cultural phenomenon, foreigners flooded to the country to see the street mural. It became engraved in the urban history, culture and not to forget tourism in São Paulo. The mural made its debut in 2015, the office of the mayor sang its praises.

The fall

They say changing winds abides no greeting, recently there have been drastic changes at 23 de Maio. In January, sanitation workers got busy exacting orders from the new sitting city mayor, Joaoa Doria. The directive to the sanitation workers, was to paint over the beloved mural. The city woke up to the horror that their mural was no longer going to be part of them.

Wielding a spraying device himself, the mayor took it upon himself to take part in the destruction. The mayor and his sparkling millions has been making a few changes. He plans to enforce a restoration of the city to its original state. Pretty but without all the exciting stuff.

His campaign aims to paint the city one color, replacing broken street essentials like trash cans. The clean-up also includes covering up graffiti on city walls, planting trees, and collecting garbage. Although a noble idea by the millionaire business man, the act put to trial the value of art and if protection of art was a worthy cause.

As situations go, the campaign has collected loyal supporters. Praising the work of the Doria administration who are keen in keeping the city clean and devoid of mixed messages. Fines have been increased to discourage anyone from engaging in graffiti activities in any part of the city.

before and after picture of the mural cover up

There are others who view things differently though. The mayor’s critics suggest that this is all a plan to sell São Paulo off to investors. They claim that the mayor aims to privatize public land, and probably put up city parks for concessions. This sent the twitter world into an angry rant.

Despite this, a trend is also arising in other cities like lima inspired by the ‘Pretty City’ trend. Cities like Lima and New York have waged a war against graffiti on public property. The mayor however retorts that he is pro art. To add on, the office of the mayor put out a statement that some of the art was old and that it gave the city a dilapidated look.

To compensate for this injustice, the mayor has offered to support a museum of street art. The limits are that the murals to be put up, have to be approved by a committee. Also artists who have private funding are to be handpicked by an independent committee. This puts a limit in the freedom of expression, where artists are forced to box down creativity.

The city clean-up also puts the administration at a bad position as to where the homeless shall be taken. The homeless have been suffering since the city suffered fires between the 70s -80s leaving a large population stranded.

There has been action to protect the remains of the historic mural. The city department dealing in historic preservation, got a judge to cease the repaint of the city mural. This of course put a stick in Doria’s ‘pretty City’ mechanisms. There are rumors however, of the city setting up legalized areas where graffiti can be expressed freely.

It’s a case of compromise for the society. They get to live in a better environment, and still have access to their beloved graffiti murals, at legal, designated areas.

a view of the exterior of bonampak site, an ancient and majestic temple is visible

Bonampak – Temple of Murals

Bonampak is the temple of murals. It is an ancient Maya archaeological site in Chiapas, Mexico. The Bonampak was dependent on the Yaxchilan which is only 30 kilometers away. The site is not a unique site regarding architecture, but it has claimed its place through the murals in the three rooms of the Bonampak.

The site’s construction occurred in the late classic period (500 AD – 800 AD). It is home to the Maya murals that have high-quality preservation. The Bonampak murals set the record straight on the assumption that the Maya were a peaceful culture. The paintings depict war and human sacrifice among the Maya.

The first non-Mayans to see the site saw it in 1946. No accurate information on who was the first there. Speculations dominate on who was. First, some of the most know speculations are that it was two American travelers or photographers. The Americans got to the site through the guidance of a Mayan who paid visits to the ancient temples to pray. The photographer was the first to see the paintings that cover the walls on one of the rooms. The murals show war and victory.

a view of the bonampak murals looking at ceiling area of temple room

History of Bonampak

Bonampak and Yaxchilan leaders fought for supremacy. Bird Jaguar from Bonampak and K’inich Skull from Yaxchilan were in a battle in the 5th century that Bird lost. By 600 CE Bonampak was a part of Yaxchilan. During this time that Yaxchilan had Bonampak in its wraps, the commissioning of the murals took place. The king of Yaxchilan has Yaxchilan artists put up the structure in 790 CE. In the 9th century, Bonampak broke free from Yaxchilan.

The structures at Bonampak

Structure one at Bonampak was at the end of the eight century. It is 16 meters long, four meters thick and seven meters tall. It is on a T-shape platform, and speculations state that it had a roof comb. The structure has three rooms that each has murals with details on the ascension to power of Chooj, the son of the Bonampak ruler Yajaw Muwan.

There have been disputes as to the order of events, but most people just opt to view it in chronological order. You begin in the first room and end with the third room. The first room contains a sense of tribute, dressing, dance and musical performances. The second room depicts conflict, torture in the company of great members of court and echelons of the victorious. The third room has dance scenes, observers, and performance of rituals.

There are 281 human representations in the rooms. Most of them have captions, 1/3 have names while most the rest of them contain no titles. Theories are trying to explain why more than half have no captions while others have.

a view of the walls in the bonampak temple, figures are visible painted on the walls

One of the theories is deaths or due to change in politics. The Bonampak murals are not from one mind but a team of experts who put to work to realize these murals. Every person involved possessing a unique set of skills that brought about the realization of the walls in structure one.

The outside of the structure does not enjoy as much preservation as the rooms. It once had great color, hues of Maya blue, red and green. In 1996, a team of Yale University students led by their lecturer Mary Miller made the Bonampak Documentation where they studied the Bonampak murals even more.

Each of the rooms is a unique story that is rich in detail for those keen in observing. To understand the Bonampak murals, one needs to take the time to study each one in the believed chronological order. The history of Maya is extensively on the walls. They must have taken a chance to put up, but the expertise has seen to their presence centuries later.

intricate carvings into the wall adorn the bonampak temple

Room 1

The first room is where the opening scene is. There is an ongoing event acknowledging the right of Chooj to rule. There are visitors’ present and influential people in the land. The representation of the meeting is 77 human figures who are all carrying their particular functions in the event. The ruling class is clearly shown with the dressing that they have on and where they sit.

There is evidence of dancers and instrumentalists on the south wall towards the east wall. There is an assortment of entertainers visible and one of the figures depicts that of a modern day smoker. He holds a cigarette and shows a lack of interest or boredom in the event at hand. There are extensive details on the meeting in the first room.

Room 2

The second room shows the greatest battle ever shown in Maya art. It is the largest room and has 139 human figure, more than any other room. At first glance, you meet the south wall that has soldiers in battle. There are blasting trumpets as the actions pick pace. The wall brings to perspective one of the great Maya beliefs that is, being left hand is a sign of weakness. The warriors who loose are left hand users, and others stripped naked.

Every inch of the wall has a recap of the battle in detail and shows the power of the right hand as the ruler holds up a spear covered in jaguar skin with his right hand to show authority and victory. Some of the defeated soldiers are even shown to have two left hands.

Room 3

Here, in this room, there is a kind of celebration. It is a ritual celebration of being victorious in battle. There is blood spilling by the nobles. There are 65 human figures in this room. The first and most noticeable figures are the three individuals standing together.

The ruler’s son is seen kneeling, holding an ax in his right hand and what the heart of the sacrificial victim on his left hand. The heart is said to have been a still beating heart. The ritual ceremony also has dancers.

The Bonampak is the temple of murals that detail the lives of the Mayas and show an extended form of war, victory and human sacrifice among the Maya. To understand the details on the art, there have been publications on the murals that explain more detail the contents.

burst by jame bullough

James Bullough Bio

James Bullough is an American born artist who grew up in Washington DC and now lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

As a kid growing up in the exurb of Washington DC, Bullough was fascinated with the innovative graffiti art that he used to see around the DC subway. He began developing an interest in making his own art inspired by the edgy urban art, which came innately to him. He started studying the mastery of the Old Masters and illustrating extraordinary oil paintings of urban contemporary art.

His work is about creating captivating contrasts and juxtapositions, which he achieves by integrating the momentum of one image and the technical of the other. In most of his works, Bullough leans heavily towards photorealism combined with 3D effects, producing paintings that strike a balance between realistic figurations and stylized intervention. He works with oil, latex, acrylic, spray paint among other materials.

Bullough’s transition has been like any other artist; from doing small pieces on walls of train tracks around his hometown to massive murals on the sides of tower blocks. He moved from the United States to Germany in 2010, after quitting his job as a middle-school teacher in Baltimore, the US. With the desire to focus on his artwork full-time, he’s never regretted the decision, acknowledging it’s the best decision he ever made in his life. It was best for the world; perhaps we couldn’t be seeing his stunning pieces of art that exist today.

While in Berlin, he found himself concentrating his efforts to the spray can as opposed to his initial paintbrush. His seamless transformation from painting photorealistic oil murals using a paintbrush to creating photorealistic spray-paint murals has attracted the attention of many art fanatics. In his first three years in Berlin, he worked with another American born and Berlin based artist Addison Karl under the name JBAK.

james bullough artwork of a woman in blue shirt

The pair gained popularity for their various works and wide-ranging murals across Germany and the US. One of their major artistic accomplishments in Berlin is his ‘Totem’ mural, done at Landsberger Alle 228B in 2014. This epic mural bursts with color and imagination, featuring three individuals all standing on each other’s backs – forming the totem. It looks more of an acrobatic art to a Layman’s eye and stands as tall as 11 stories. The duo had to employ a crane when they painted the mural and the job took over a month to complete.

Today, Bullough works as an independent artist, balancing his time between mural painting and studio work. A quick look at his work will show you he prefers to paint people in his trademark colourful style. He especially decorates women onto dull walls, crushing the blankness with the magnificence of beauty of the smooth delicate skin of women and long flowing hair. His Desi mural in Brooklyn, NYC is a perfect example.

James Bullough artwork of person jumping in the air

VantagePoint Radio

Bullough also has eyes for other ventures apart from art. In 2014, he introduced a new project to the world as co-creator and host of VantagePoint Radio. The interview show focuses on urban art and the graffiti/mural artists who occupy the genre. Each episode features an established artist or a group of artists in the contemporary art scene and Bullough sheds light on their lives and works.

Exhibitions

Since his departure from the US, James Bullough has returned to his mother country for several exhibitions. His last visit to Los Angeles in May 2016 saw him exhibit a series of works called ‘Breaking Point’ at the Thinkspace Gallery, which was nothing less than jaw-dropping.

Thinkspace Gallery – Breaking Point

In this series, Bullough captures fractured moments of existence; disruption and personal break through the expressive body motion, asking his models to channel individual memory and to remember encounters of “breaking” at the time of their capture.

Working with dancers from Berlin, he starts with the body movement, captured in an expanse of negative space, then disguises it further, grafting, striating, and dividing its surfaces and planes. The models remain mysterious and faceless all through, an exclusion planned to reaffirm the typical universality of the emotive physical motion.

This masterpiece shows how his style has evolved significantly over the years. Previous works featured graphic inclusions and interruptions, with areas of the subject clearly removed. His recent works are more dynamic as he shifts and activates the interrupted segments of the figures rather than delete them. Areas of the body are superimposed, shaking with transitional movement as opposed to being static.

Generally, Bullough has attended many exhibitions in Germany and the United States. He was also invited, among other international artists, to exhibit his works at the Stolenspace Gallery in London, the UK in December 2015.

His illustration of photorealistic imagery challenges the viewer’s perception of reality by shifting and breaking up the bodies he paints. Bullough is simply proving that tower blocks and city walls shouldn’t be a dull opaque white, but instead a playground for creativity.

Hillary Clinton mural

Hillary Clinton Mural that Caused Controversy

First it was a mural depicting a near-naked Hillary Clinton in a swimsuit with stars and stripes. The mural went viral, circulating around social media and causing criticisms of all kinds. The provocative painting was displayed on the wall of a small business building in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray.

Protests followed from Maribyrnong Council who called the mural offensive.

“We believe it is offensive because of the depiction of a near-naked woman, not on the basis of disrespect to Hillary Clinton, in accordance with the Graffiti Prevention Act 2007,” said Stephen Wall, CEO of Maribyrnong City Council.

hillary clinton mural wearing star spangled bathing suit with cash

That prompted Lushsux, creator of the mural, to add something extra to his painting – he painted some $100 notes stuffed in the swimsuit in reaction. This was also a response to Instagram after it suspended his account for posting the image on the social media platform. The artist’s account had already won over 100,000 followers.

The authority went further to claim that local residents were not happy with the painting and even threatened the owner of the building with the prosecution along with a fine if the mural was not removed. Of course, the mural went up during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign so perhaps it created a negative image of her.

‘Hillary Clinton’ in a Burqa

Lushsux branded the calls to remove the mural as pathetic. Instead of removing the mural, he eventually covered up the swimsuit by painting a Burqa over it, leaving only the eyes showing. The Burqa is traditional outfit worn by Muslim women to cover their bodies in public.

hillary clinton mural by lushsux wearing a burqa

Next to the new work, he painted the message, “If this Muslim woman offends u, u r a bigot, racist, sexist Islamophobe.” He then posted on his new account, “This is no longer a wall of a supposed ‘offensive and near naked’ Hillary Clinton, it is now a depiction of a beautiful Muslim woman”.

Lushsux is no stranger to controversy

It’s not only Clinton who was handed the artist’s treatment and it wasn’t the first time the artist attracted media attention for his satirical paintings. Lushsux also painted and adjusted murals of the then Republican nominee Donald Trump and his wife, Melania across Melbourne. However, these murals didn’t receive harsh measures from the Instagram owner.lushsux controversial artist

He has also satirized extremely renowned celebrities in the past. In another mural, he displayed an image of singer Taylor Swift and captioned: “In Loving Memory of Taylor Smith, 1989-2016”, in reference to the pop star’s public conflict with rapper Kanye West. After Swift threatened to take legal action, Lushsux transformed that piece into one Harambee, the gorilla whose killing after a little child fell into his fenced area sparked outrage.

Of course, there are those who have no hard feelings towards the murals or how Lushsux express his ideas. Some even find the murals funny and create memes out of them. In any case, the murals live on and so is the artist. We can only wait for the next controversy he’s going to create.

roboart - wall painting robot

Artbot – the new artist on the block

In Korea, apartment buildings dominate Seoul city and large murals as high as 75m command the walls of the apartments. You’ll be forgiven to think that the best artists from around the world created the murals, yet no human applied paint on a single art.

Introducing Artbot – a robot for painting exterior walls of apartments or large buildings. The robot breaks an image into several small pieces to paint the entire picture. Made and used by Korean company Roboprint, it’s a safer, quicker and more economic form of painting building’s exterior than people can do. Using Artbot is less expensive than the traditional labor painting by up to 80% plus there’s no risk of human accidents working in high places.

Artbot also works on highways and expressways where sound proof walls can be transformed into delightful masterpieces. The apartment repainting sector in Korea is approximately a $350 million industry and with the Artbot’s efficiency, these figures are bound to shoot. Apartment repainting helps to increase the value of a property as well as the visual appeal. Even those dull storage tanks in industrial settings can be transformed into artistic murals and make the surrounding lively.

Technology

The wall painting robot system relies on different technologies to execute various tasks.

The first is Real-Painting Technology. This allows the robot to create a necessary color by spraying 4 color paints (CMYK), one after another through a nozzle situated at the head.

Another one is Image Splitting Technology which is specifically what creates an image. Since the robot works on relatively large wall paintings, it splits an image into many small pieces to paint the whole image. This allows expressing a wide image as one real wall paint. Moreover, selective or partial repainting can be possible regardless of the possibility that painting work is disrupted because of machine faults or external causes.

Perhaps one that saves on a major challenge that artists usually experience is the Irregular Structure Painting Technology. Yes, painting on uneven surfaces is overwhelming but it can’t beat the Artbot. The spout of the robot keeps a setting distance from a surface to be painted at least 20mm while the head takes after an irregular or a curved surface. Along these lines, painting a twisted surface is possible.

The final and one that cut’s significantly on labor costs is the Workability Improvement Technology. This reduces work preparation time by a level checking gadget Print leveling by a lift. The robot painting system is also controlled remotely and wirelessly.

The Artbot has now put Roboprint in a dominant position in the building repainting market. And to meet resident’s expectations of increasing the value of their apartments and promote customer satisfaction, the company shows luxurious designs along with their smart painting robot. Their mission is clear; transform Seoul city into an urban museum.

 

mural artwork by Shamsia Hassani

Shamsia Hassani – voice of the Afghan woman

One of Afganistan’s first well-known female graffiti artists, Shamsia Hassani creates vibrant murals and paintings portraying women as strong, autonomous beings. In all her work, Hassani usually paints women in Burqas and endeavors to reveal the woman under the burqa. She often draws women in symbolic shapes and adds symbols of the atmosphere that flows around her plus her life experiences.

Most of her murals often show women carrying and/or playing musical instruments which give them a voice for self-expression. Coming from a background where women are usually overlooked, Hassani believes painting women in public can encourage other people to look at women differently.

She uses blue in many of her paintings not only because it’s her favorite color but also because blue is associated with freedom. And for Hassani, freedom is not the removal of the burqa, freedom is to have peace.

Hassani also uses her own art to help convey positive changes to people and particularly to wash away the bad memories of a long long-time war that had occurred in her country.  Even today the place is not entirely safe as Hassani has had to leave some of her street art unfinished in the past to run for her safety.

And these days is not necessarily war, it is political unrest in her country that makes the streets unsafe. And some other times it’s simply because she’s a woman painting in the public space that puts her at risk. She’s reported herself that on several occasions’ people have verbally abused her and even tried to stop her from working.

But she has the will and the heart of a lion, she dreams and executes. Sometime back her family discouraged her from tagging a specific area on the grounds that a bomb had exploded nearby. Of course, it wasn’t safe for her to wait there. She took a photo of the wall, printed a massive image of it and used the picture as a canvas – how smart!

Her concept of working her graffiti out as paintings applied onto prints of pictures taken from various places created a collection she called ‘’Dreaming Graffiti’’. Works from this gallery are easy to transport because they do not adorn street walls. These images have made to exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, India, Vietnam, and the United States among others.

During her three-month residency at the Hammer Museum in the Los Angeles, Hassani met with local artists and her stay is appreciated by her mural at 4900 W. Adams Boulevard. She also exhibited her work at the Seyhoun Gallery, West Hollywood.

Her story was an inspiration to many and her connection to the Hammer community continues to develop. To the Afghan women, Shamsia Hassani continues to push for their recognition through art while giving them strength to overcome social oppression.

Biography

Born in 1988 in Tehran, Iran, Shamsia Hassani grew up in Afghanistan. She started graffiti in December 2010 when graffiti artist CHU made a visit from the United Kingdom in a workshop organized by Combat Communications in Kabul. Out of the 8 local artists that attended the work, Hassani has been the most outstanding out of her exemplary work and what she stands for. In 2009, she was once shortlisted for the Afghan Contemporary Art Prize.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Arts in 2010 and a master’s degree in Visual Arts in 2014 from Kabul University. She co-founded Berang Art Organization with the aim of promoting contemporary art and culture in Afghanistan through workshops, seminars, programs and exhibitions.

St Clair mural by Phlegm in progress

A Young Artist Makes Yonge and St. Clair a Place to Visit

There is a new life in Toronto city, thanks to Phlegm’s 8-storey mural.

phlegm mural painted on st clair

The Mural

What was once an empty side of a 12-storey commercial building at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue is currently a monster wall painting done by Phlegm, a British street artist and illustrator. Phlegm collaborated with a public arts organization, STEPS, to create Toronto’s newest public art landmark.

Assisted by Danforth-based muralist Stephanie Bellefleur, they painted a human silhouette peering at its surroundings. Stephanie was lucky to land this gig from a pool of over 100 applicants. While Phlegm was busy burning through cans of spray paint, Stephanie provided logistical support; overseeing materials and other hardware, working the swing stage and offering artistic input when required.

Phlegm came up with the idea of creating a human body out of the Toronto landmarks like the ROM, CN Tower, Old City Hall and St. Lawrence Market to portray the city as a spirited, living ecosystem. He also consulted with over 230 native residents and integrated their insights including certain buildings and ravines.

st clair mural being painted by phlegm

Phlegm

Born in North Wales and now residing in Sheffield, the UK, Phlegm is widely known as a cartoonist and an illustrator. His work is composed of quirky figures and a descriptive structure. They usually feature strange creatures and ancient-like beasts.

Most of Phlegm’s arts are entirely based on illustration. The larger part of his vast characters originates from comics which he often spray paints onto massive walls. Phlegm likes to use the black Indian ink and a dip pen for painting his work and only uses color for painting large murals or screen-painting.

Phlegm’s style has developed entirely from his independently published comics. In the most recent years, he has put a solid exertion into taking a shot at street art. He appreciates working the empty spaces on large walls, old industrial facilities and different structures. Phlegm believes that a piece of art in the street becomes part of the urban architecture and is impacted by what’s around it rather than being a cumbersome canvass in the art display or gallery.

Since Phlegm’s took the stage, he has gained recognition across the world and is a standout amongst the most respected street artists. His street art is distinctive and exceptionally full of energy. His work has additionally shown up in various objects such as vehicles, boats, planes and several street art festivals across Europe; the UK, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Croatia. He has also painted murals in Tunisia, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

STEPS

This award-winning company was given the task to leverage underutilized public spaces in the heart of Toronto by Slate Asset Management, the owner of the four corners of Yonge and St. Clair.

STEPS couldn’t help but invite an artist to help beautify the plain wall of the Padulo building at 1st St. Clair Avenue. Their instincts led them all the way to Britain, calling Phlegm to take part in the project. Phlegm was chosen from 10 shortlisted artists because of his vast experience with giant murals and his unique black and white style.

With a solid mandate to fabricate the capacity of local developing artists, the St. Clair Ave. project was STEPS’ first on international level. They strongly believe the mural will cultivate cultural dialogue and help foster tourism in the region.

'untitled' kirsten mccrea mural at up here

How UP Here Festival Transformed Sudbury

In August 2016, Up Here made a comeback to Sudbury, Canada with the aim of rebranding the city. The pollution-stricken downtown city of Canada had long been the centre of criticism from outsiders and Up Here was out to refine that notion. A city formerly nicknamed ‘the asshole of Canada’ by the locals was set to become the happiest city in Canada.

Up Here landed in Sudbury already rebranded after their original name, Up Fest was found to infringe on another street art festival from the UK. That was a blow to their Sudbury’s festival event which was much about muralists, musicians and artists, but they still nailed it. To add the icing on the cake, Up Here even launched a mobile app thanks to their shrewd graphic designers and marketers Andrew Knapp and Christian Pelletier.

"you are beautiful" mural from sudbury's up here festival

There were about 16 Up Here’s commissioned murals which were part of the plan of transforming Sudbury and change the perception of the city. Pelletier’s ambition was to make Sudbury a destination for art enthusiasts by turning the city’s downtown to an urban art gallery. The plan involved inviting artists from around Sudbury and across the world to create big murals.

2016’s event rocked with big stage artists, with the likes of Ella and Pitr, Kirsten McCrea, Ola Volo, James Kirkpatrick and Hobz leaving marks of jaw-dropping murals.

'god helmet' mural on Science North building rooftop

The mural at the Science North rooftop is especially breathtaking. Done by French artists Ella and Pitr’, the piece is of great significance to Sudbury as it put the city on the international stage. The mural features a sleeping giant and it’s visible via Google maps. Many people from around the world hunt for Ella and Pitr’s murals all over the internet trying to find the different pieces in Chile and Portugal. And now Sudbury was added into the game. That’s why it matters to the people of this city.

'untitled' mural by kirsten mccrea at up here festival in sudbury

 

The musical offerings at last year’s fest put the focus on female-fronted bands with U.S Girls, Young Galaxy, Dilly Dally and Stars making the headlines. Locals Neli Nenkova and Tracy Baker also made to the podium. People had tough decisions to make. Pelletier called the festival ‘dueling late nights’ which put two bands against each other at different venues. Some hip hop acts were also on the roster as Pelletier was of the idea of diversifying the program in all senses.

up here mural by krueger krew

He also didn’t forget about the fun and creativity for kids. They organized a family day and kids from within Sudbury had a blast of 2016. Kids did face-painting on adults as well as painting mini-murals on cardboards. The organizers believed there’s no better way of gentrifying the city than getting everyone engaged and celebrating the move together.

whos going to take the weight mural from up here mural festival in sudbury

By the time the fest was over, Sudbury was lit by life-worthy elements. It looked renovated with beauty oozing from all corners of the city. Pelletier said last year’s theme was based on terraformation, which according to him is making an inhabitable space livable. They are proud of that achievement.