Tuesday, 18 November 2008

State of Art.

I wrote this a while ago, but I still actually appreciate it - rare for my work - generally six months after I've finished something the sight of it makes me wince.

I've been designing tattoos for myself for the last ten years, another ten and I may be happy with them.

The only point in actually putting any of this stuff on the net is to actually get feedback from people, so get on it. I am honestly interested in all you bastard's opinions.


I stand watching as two streetforce officials, sweating slightly behind multiple sheets of yellow nylon, work together to take a small sticker from a pane of glass on that 'new' development on Ekkie Road. You know the one, its been empty in the huge 'great opportunity for cafe/restaurant!!' space for at least the last five years. The sticker was a wicked little illustration of a empty fuel gauge, with 'hope' written above. It'll be back in place soon enough I reckon.

Fact is, Sheffield's expanding. Fair enough. Problem ain't the expansion however, it's how it's being done. I for one refuse to live in a Sheffield thats been pissed on by money hungry property developers. All of them building their identical dreams in pale brick, glass and steel.

But yeah. This is about art. Well for a start, for me it's not. I go into galleries and by and large am left cold by what I see. The same picture of a tree on a hill. That bloody scarface pop art picture. Its identical art for those identical flats I was talking about.

It's about dedication. Think about how graffiti's done. Middle of the night, looking over their shoulder, maximum of half an hour in one place. So cold the paint is coming out the can in spats and drips. Working from a drawing they've worked on for weeks, transferring something a few inches wide into something that covers an entire wall. Shit, but that outline's a bit rough... but just imagine what they could do if given time and places to do it properly.

As loathe as I am to take lessons from the South, Brighton Council over this summer put up boards ALL over the city centre, miles of the things, and actively encouraged and paid muralists to come down and decorate. Just imagine what that vandal that scrawled a tag down your shop shutter could have done if you'd given him the time and the encouragement to do a proper job, something to make your business stand out from all the bloody chain stores on your road.


So what if all they've done is write their name? Would you prefer a brand name, a corporation? In a world where we see ideal living through the latest products, the latest clothing, I find it refreshing to see some individuality expressed. Before you dismiss it as the latest outing from an aggressive egotistical teenager, just look at the amount of work that's gone into showing that they want to do something more with their lives.

This bits for you. The older generation. The dads, the mums, the employers. The 'get a proper job' lot. You must have heard of Banksy by now. Thats proper money that fella's getting. Graffiti is everywhere, loathe to say it, but its mainstream. The world over, street artists are now in galleries, in that latest ad on telly, in the latest range of toys for your kids, on the catwalk and in your magazines.

Foster the kid that bothers to do something creative, that bothers to do something different, because they are the ones who will be making the proper money in the long run.

This isn't a world where you can work for the factory down the road all your life.

This is a world where we have to be in charge of our own lives, our own talents, our own money, our own jobs, because if we aren't, they will be sold off to someone else for someone else's gain.

We've established now that a kid with a pen isn't the real criminal. If anything these kids represent our individuality, in a world where Tesco's in on every street corner, that sticker, that paste-up, that mural is the thing that gives our Sheffield streets their colour.


Everything is slowly becoming the same. We have the same problems, racism, poverty, drug abuse that is elsewhere, and its all happening in our city centre, thats increasingly like every other city centre in England, EXACTLY the same chain shops, all made from the same materials. Is it any wonder that we are ending up with more and more people just saying 'fuck it' and not bothering?

Our kids are told they have every opportunity when they are growing up. Be a doctor, be an architect, be a professional footballer, be famous for a few years based on nowt apart from stripping down to your kegs in Big Brother. Slowly, as they grow up, they realise how futile most of their ambitions are. With any luck, someone will come along to encourage their talents, and they'll be a productive member of society. That's what this is about. Appreciate those that want to make something more of themselves, because without them we are lost.

I'm not asking you to like that tag on the roof down on London Road. Im just asking you to appreciate the effort and skill that went into it. Thirty thousand years ago, one of our ancestors dipped a burnt stick in the fire and drew a picture of a bison on the cave wall.

Nothings changed, apart from the walls we now draw on. Do me a favour, and next time you look at a wall someone's painted, try and appreciate it.

That's all I want from you.

NowThen magazine.

I've spent the last 9 months building a local magazine for Sheffield.

Independent art, music, trade, and news.

Starting to become well proud of it. It's a lot of work to do on me tod but its well rewarding to have a project I can return to monthly and see ways in which I can make it better. Having never been taught to design in my life certainly has its hinderances and massive knowledge gaps, and challenging myself to learn new skills weekly makes me very happy.

The concept behind it is to theme each issue after a decent artist - with single submissions from local artists and friends whose work I thrive off. I have to say how fucking amazing a few of them have been -

Phlegm. Dan is one of the hardest working people I've ever met, properly dedicated to his work and developing a body of work that has one of the most distinct styles I've come across. He's stupidly talented, did our first magazine (which is so full of mistakes on my part Im not even posting a link to it...) and has contributed a fake ad to hide amongst the others for
every issue we've done so far. I can't explain how greatful I am to him, so I'll just promote the fuck out of him instead. He's just released a new comic - get hold of a copy here.

local pen genius called Craww (who will be our featured artist in February, my birthday issue so it had better be good mate!)

I've had some sick artists in illustrating it - here's links to a few recent copies.

September issue was Keaton Henson from London village -
Get it here.

October issue was Matt Cipov from Seattle -
Get it here.

November issue was Women158 from Leeds -
Get it here.

Tell me what you think.

Presently putting together an issue with a lad called Kid Acne, he's a bit fuckin good and I have a massive smirk plastered over my face.