I’m moving this week. Moving is interesting because you come across all these little memories that somehow fell into the back of a drawer or bottom of a hall closet but you just don’t have the time to sit and reminisce over them. I came across one of those memories today and had to make the time for it.
koala, wait, that’s wrong; this drop bear was a test for something that changed my whole perspective on the creative process.
The turn of the new millennia led to a massive cultural shift in the way street art was perceived world wide. It had finally made the long fought battle from the subway car to the gallery wall. What often isn’t talked about is the grumbling complaints of some traditionalists as to how it got there. Stencils and wheat pastes to be specific. While today there is little argument over the artistic merit of names like Swoon, W.K. Interact, Blek Le Rate or Shepard Fairey, during the rise of era of street art, there was an unquestionable divide regarding what was real street art and what was a lazy, suburban approximation.
Early on I fell squarely on the side of “stencils and wheat pastes are lazy”. They were a way for art school kids, too scared to stick around and commit to the piece, to leave a mark and run as fast as they can. They were a way to increase your quantity instead of quality like old school taggers. There were other complaints, but they escape my memory.
One day I was in Providence, RI and I saw a stencil I’ll never forget. It was a hi contrast buck’s head with bolts around the collar making it look bolted to the sign it was stenciled on. I was intrigued because for some reason, this really hit me as a gorgeous piece of eye candy (long before I started using the word “design” to describe things).
As soon as I got back home from my trip I got some sheets of mylar, a sharpie and an exacto knife. I sketched out this guy as my first run and tested him on an old school presentation. I was instantly smitten with it and, like many others, was swept up in the street art craze of the day. It forever changed my idea of the rules of art and how I attacked design problems.
I have a lot of junk drawers so expect to take this kind of walk down memory lane at least a few more times before I’m all settled in to my new place.