Since the late 1980s, Mike Giant has been making his mark (literally) on the landscape of graffiti and tattoo art. Following a showcase of drawings and photos at San Francisco’s Fecal Face Design Gallery this year, which combined his passion for the medium with it’s inevitable interactions and correlations with the corporate world, Creatures mused with artist about his time spent with graffiti, tattooing, and everything in between, which has shaped his career into an iconic one over the past three decades.
Reposted from Fresh Paint Gallery
Tongson Chen put in a nutshell the general philosophy of the group on painting: “It’s an urge, every day you think about it. I’m sure it’s the same with every artist, it’s something you just have to do whether the money’s right or wrong. Being an artist is always doing your art”
All of them are trying to live from their art, sometimes doing a little side job to stay afloat. It brought us to talking about the common problematic of making it as an artist while remaining true to your values and being able to pay the bills. They pointed out that art school can make you believe you need to paint boring commercial things or to sell out to be able to live from your art. Christina summed up a problem many underground artists face: “I’m trying to find that balance between being a commercial artist and being true to yourself, where I’m making money as an individual but also creating art to create art because you love it and you wanna put something awesome out there and share it with people and not necessarily have it be about money.”
Just like Billy, who abandoned graphic design, because it was “too clean” to get into something he loves, they are all proofs that, no matter what you’re taught, you can decide to make your own thing and find that balance with hard work. Jordan made me take a step back and realize that “When art becomes your means of survival you have to look at it as a business, and you have to do things you don’t want to do, take commissions you don’t want to take, talk to people you don’t like, go outside of your comfort zone a lot, and that’s art.” He said he couldn't trash talk people who got on the level where people know who they are because they had obviously put a lot of work into their success.
When we talked about their hometown Toronto and its graffiti scene, they seemed to admire the openness of the Montreal community. They mentioned the animosity and stigma towards street art but underlined that the reaction of the public was never going to stop it, that a lot of areas were still heavily bombed. Politicians end up ruling over what is art and what isn't, without having anything to do with the culture or having any kind of education about it.
Billy explained: “It’s winter right now, so we’re seeing a lot of it linger and hang out, but we’ve got the Pan Am games coming this summer and the city’s gonna be spotless. If you put it up, it’s gonna be gone the next day. I used to come to downtown Toronto in 2005, 2006, 2007 and this city was destroyed, it was fantastic. You could be right downtown and you look up and every rooftop is hit. And that’s all gone now, it’s all history and those writers are gone too. When Rob Ford came in, he said “I’m gonna clean up” and he kinda did that and now it’s really clean, the buff is out there. Now you have organizations that decide what goes where, it always comes down to the same 5 people.”
Chris expressed regret that the writers in Toronto were not more educated enough about the ethics of graffiti: “There’s no education within the street [about the 'hierarchy' of graffiti], it’s just about what looks nice and what looks good for the community. They don’t put into consideration that there is history to the person making it.”
They all agreed that in the end a piece is judged by how long it stays before being painted over and not by the talent of the writer. Jordan developed a very interesting concept about this phenomenon: “You see spots are getting buffed, but if you paint on a mural, chances are it’s gonna stay for awhile. So it’s kind of culture cannibalism you know, the culture is eating itself because it’s so starved in a way.”
But Christina pointed out that this auto-cannibalism could have good aspects too, for example when it comes to commissioned murals with almost automatic attribution to mainstream artists, which brings us back to Billy’s previous remark on the politic grip on urban art and the unfair monopoly of commercial/mainstream artists on municipal approval. The infinite vicious circle that Fresh Paint is trying to break.
Photo Cred. Adrien Fumex
Original Post by Lina
What is the purpose of art? For some, the answer is simply that art provides a creative outlet or an aesthetic beauty to the world, for others it is more complex, while still many believe art to be frivolous or a luxury. For me, both the creation and appreciation of art is an act of mindfulness that lends our fast-paced culture the much-needed opportunities to sit back and reflect. It has huge transformative potential in terms of how we act in, and understand our society.
Mindfulness is the act of paying attention on purpose in the present moment, with an open attitude. In other words, it is an active attempt to listen openly and without judgement to that which is around and within you. This act is often accomplished through meditative practices that ask you to focus on breath, sensation, feelings and thoughts.
Art forces us to take an open and curious approach to the present moment. When we are taking in someone’s art, we focus on it and open ourselves up to the idea or concept they are trying to share. When we are creating art, we focus in on our own experience so we can try to communicate it outwardly. Both acts; as creator and viewer, teach us to listen to what we or others are thinking and feeling, and how we are experiencing the world.
This has huge implications for how we interact with one another. In a culture that is so obsessed with social media, we have lost the ability to listen to both ourselves and to others. We spend so much time on the computer that we ignore the whimpers of discomfort in our back, or the restless energy in our legs. More research comes out all the time about how technology is making it difficult for children to read social cues, or about how our news feeds allow us to selectively listen to only the things that interest us.
This affects the vulnerable populations in our immediate community the most; those living on the streets who our cell phones distract us from, those suffering from mental illness who we can selectively tune out. As we draw awareness away from our digital selves into the present moment, in both the creation and appreciation of art, we learn to listen to ourselves and to others more openly.
I’ve always believed that listening is the greatest act of love. What would happen if as a society we began to value this act of listening through art? To ourselves, to others and more particularly to those vulnerable populations whose voices are so often dismissed or silenced? I believe we would see just how valuable art is in making this world a kinder place.
"Artist Andre Kan and recent OCAD Alum brings together several of his contemporaries for the first time in this thoughtful curatorial project "Maybe Memories." Showcasing very different and personal ways of expression, this exhibition explores the artists’ desire to capture and reflect their experiences through the lens of their own psychology." - Yellow House Gallery
Featuring woks by Stella Cade, Ann Somers, Shyla Tibando, Andre Kan, Anthony Smerek, Emily May Rose, Rosalind Breen and Chris Perez.
Please join us for our opening reception on Thursday July 24th from 6:30 until 10pm to celebrate these artists and their work. Artists will be in attendance.
Yellow House is located at 921 Kingston road, between Main Street and Victoria Park.
2014 has seen many changes with art spaces coming and going.
Other than Creatures Creating leaving 822 Dundas Street West, this year also has The Mascot --a cafe and exhibition space--closing down, the Ossington Avenue gallery and venue, OZ Studios, and now Brockton Collective uprooting their location on Dufferin Street to start touring their exhibits and artists to further their mission to facilitate artistic/creative endeavours.
Art Battle is live competitive painting. Painters create the best work they can across three rounds of public painting. The audience vote for the winners of each round, and the single winner of each event.
A National Championship is held at the end of each season, with competitors representing cities across Canada. This year’s Art Battle National Championship is held at the old Maple Leaf Gardens/Mattamy Athletic Centre, July 26th/2014.
"What is your background in the arts?"
Simon and I have worked on a number of projects together, from painting at home to headlining Nuit Blanche in 2010. We both seek to create new and beautiful realities, he's a little bit tech and I'm a little bit old-school
"How was Art Battle conceived?"
We were looking for a way to showcase the arts, engage the audience and build community, this seemed like a natural fit and was well-received from the beginning.
"What do you contribute your current success to?"
Good intentions, great artists and hard work.
"What vision do you have for Art Battle? What is needed to accomplish this?"
We would like to see live painting on the main-stage around the world. The National Championship this year will be the first ever stadium show for painting and we're very excited to continue and grow this model.
"What has your experience been with the variety of venues you've worked with?"
All of our shows have been fun and dynamic, we try to transform the space we work in to meet the needs of the painters and the audience. It's always nice to work in large theatre spaces, as it's a very natural fit.
"What would you advise for those interested in starting an arts organization?"
Decide what you are delivering and focus on making that as enjoyable as possible. Treat your collaborators well and make sure everyone has the right info about how to find you.
"Looking back, what would you have done differently from the get-go?"
We wouldn't change anything