There is always a debate over the subject of street art. Is it Graffiti? Is it a movement? Either way, you can really appreciate the works of art that only come alive from the minds of creative individuals. You have the really famous artist types like Banksy, Space Invader, Mr. Brainwash and Jonesy. There are literally millions of artists out there that can relay the same message that some of the most famous minds out there can dream up in a matter of minutes. Most of them are Graffiti artists, true. There is no denying that. Then you get the ones like Space Invader who see counter tiles, or flooring tiles, and turns them into some awesome 8-BIT art work.
Our Art Tour of East London – Free!!!
We have been planning our trip to London and Ireland for some weeks. I wanted to see some of the Banksy art work that is up all over London. After some research, most of his work is either taken down, painted over, or removed for a personal collection. So I started looking for tours in London that could show us some of the current art works by today’s hottest artists. So we found this company in London called Alternative London. These guys really know their shit when it comes to street artists in the Shoreditch (east side) district of London. Most of the tour guides are artists as well as tour guides. They meet and hangout with some of the up and coming artists. Our tour guide was Doug Gillen. Doug runs this awesome website called Fifth Wall Productions. We started off the tour learning about the different waves of cultures that come into London and progressed the way of life in that city. He took us to the street sign on Brick St. He started talking about the way art is perceived and then told us that street art is sometimes stereotyped as Graffiti. He wanted us to open our eyes and see the world he saw. Here he points up to the top of the pole and there is this molded figure on top of the pole. It’s a piece by Jonesy. So awesome.
He takes the tour on a walk for two hours, showing us some really cool artworks done by awesome artists. None of the works were by him. He tells us that he was there when some of the works were going up. His talk earlier specified that most works are illegal because the artist does not have permission by the owner to put up their work on walls or buildings. Then he showed us this work that took 2 weeks of straight dedication to making each line in the artwork pop. They artist knows the building owners and had their permission. Now even though they know they owners, the art can still be illegal because the laws of the city may dictate that art can not be shown on the walls. So the artist is free and clear, but the city see’s the buildings owner as a Graffiti artist and can fine them or even worse, lock them up.
The tour guide DOUG was trying to not become biased towards his favorite works. That’s hard when you know the people who make art and take a tour around a city. But he was pretty awesome at keeping us guessing which way he leaned towards on each work of art. Doug was telling us that some artists are being jailed for 3-5 years, when rapists and other actual criminals are getting 15 months. It’s something he feels should be changed. “Here you have someone trying to express their art in a way that can change the world, and they are being locked away for that.”
One thing I’ll never forget
Doug told us that art is taken down as fast as it is put up. Most artists do not take pictures of their works. So the only way that most of theise works of art exists to this day is by the power of photography. So street art and photography / film will always be tied together. I think that is something that signifies how art work is more powerful than a social media campaign. CNN is not going to show how your post changed the lives of 30 people, but they will cover a street artist who took one of the most iconic walls in the middle east, and showed us his soul. That’s super powerful if you think about it.
So here is some of the photo’s we took.