We’ve always been inspired by the grit and talent of street artists as those who make art to express themselves and never for posterity. For this week’s Friday Inspired we have photographer Lauren Psyk share her inspiration from a London East End graffiti tour.
‘As a photographer I am always looking for shooting opportunities and new subject matter, so I was delighted when a friend recently bought me tickets for the Graffiti Tour of London, organised by Great British Tours. The tour is based in Shoreditch and takes in well known spots such as Brick Lane, as well as some more hidden away places that I never knew were there.
The most striking thing I learnt on the tour was how little I knew about street art! Sure – I had heard of Banksy and I’ve always admired good graffiti, but I had no idea there were so many highly regarded street artists with a signature style and instantly recognisable work. My personal favourite from the tour is a guy called Stik, so called because he draws stick figures. They are always made up of just six lines. It was amazing to see how expressive and memorable simple stick figures can be – I guess it’s partly about the choice of location for the work. Some others I discovered for the first time included Jimmy C, famous for a colourful ‘drip’ style, ROA, a Belgian artist who paints unusual looking animals all over the world, and Paul Don Smith, who uses stencilling.
The other great question posed by the tour is: “what is graffiti?” We were shown some works of art that to all intents and purposes looked like graffiti. But the guide pointed out that these had been commissioned – by brands, shops, cafes etc. Are they therefore strictly graffiti, which by definition is about vandalism, and is therefore illegal? And if works by artists such as Banksy now sell for six figure sums around the world, are they really that far removed from commissioned works of art? Can this still be said to be graffiti? I left the tour thinking through these issues, with a list of eye catching street artists to explore further.’
Thanks Lauren! What say we do another one of these soon?