Spent a few nights in Paris with the girlfriend, ate well, caught a gig (OK GO) and got some stickers up. I didn't have much time to make stickers specific to Paris, so there are just a couple new ones.

It's a little over a month since the Charlie Hebdo attacks and I wanted to pay tribute to their sacrifice for freedom of speech, so now there's a handful of my little characters holding up a spray can in solidarity. The marks and debris from the protest were still clear on the Monument à la République even after so many weeks. It'll be interesting to hear when the city decides it's alright to clean the graffiti away...if at all?

It can be hard to engage with terrible events like this when the media is full of violence and fear but the fact artists and writers were singled out obviously reasonated with me. I followed it closely in the hours and days that followed. The illustrated reaction from artists the world over shouldn't have come as a surprise. It was such a beautiful, singular outcry.

On a lighter note, I've been experimenting with GoPros and cameras for the past half year in a bid to show myself in action on the street. Experiments involved velcro, lanyards, cutting holes in t-shirts and all that nonsense. In the end, I stuck a rubber suction cup to the front of my phone so I could hold it between my teeth to get POV footage. Below is a little video I cut together from Paris...

I still don't get enough work up on the street as I want. Over the past year or two, I've recognized I can let planning get in the way of action. I can't remember who said it but the sentiment 'Done is better than perfect.' has stuck in my mind. Spontaneity is the aim and whilst stencils aren't as spontaneous as freehanding something, there are ways I can be less of an obssessive twat.

I use stickers as an alternative to spraying things in the street when I shouldn't be spraying at all. A lot of people think of stickers as this quick 'slap-and-go' thing but for me, it's an incredible way to carry around a lot of pieces without also lugging around unwieldy stencils and cans of paint. They're still hand stenciled stickers (printer toner fades and flakes away very quickly) and I'd never be able to get up a three layer piece (shadow, white outline and black) as quickly as these stickers. They might be easier to remove than a sprayed stencil but neither medium is forever, that's not the point of street art.

Paris certainly has a better graffiti scene than, say, Tokyo which we visited over a year ago. Tokyo was very sterile. Paris had some large, hand made paste ups dotted around the place. However it looks like the locals like to get high up and guys like Invader, Cost and some random squid character are stuck up a good ten meters up. I guess they're using extending poles, right? I mean Invader sometimes uses a ladder but there were some really tall spots in there.

I really enjoy cycling (the solitude of the sport appeals to me maybe?) and France really loves it too, so the other Paris specific sticker I sprayed was a 'maillot jaune' (yellow jersey) cyclist. It didn't take much effort to come up with that sticker since I had already drawn something for the Tour de France piece. After ten years of painting, I've a pretty hefty 'library' of drawings to now pull from.

Anyway, it was nice to have the option of work taken away for a few days. As a self-employed artist, it can be very, very easy to work an extra few hours here or there when you should be resting*. There's no automatic pay cheque at the end of the month like a typical job, so you're always pushing harder to continue the honour and pleasure of living as professional artist.

* Like right now, as I write all this out and edit the photos for this page at 2:57am on a Saturday.

For now I'm back to grinding the nosestone and working on a solo show scheduled for 12th June this year at The Herbert in Coventry. Like my first solo show, it involves stenciling directly onto the gallery walls, which is a lot more work than painting canvases in advance and hanging them on the walls. But that's a good thing. Busy is always better than idle!

Posted 14th February, 2015

Untitled Document Untitled Document