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From her strikingly expressive stickers and wheatpastes to her distinctly alluring mural art and paintings, Eye Sticker creates a wonderfully diverse range of visually seductive artworks. I was delighted to recently have the opportunity to interview the talented artist.

When and where did you first get up?

It was in 2020 on the streets of the Village, where I was living at the time. I put up a sticker of an eye. That was the first time I ever shared anything in a public space.

What inspired you to do so?

It was something that I’d always wanted to do. And during the pandemic, I finally had the time to do it. I love street art, and I wanted to be part of the scene.

And why an eye? What inspired that?

Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica inspired it. I was drawn to its eye.

Have you any preferred surfaces?

I love smooth surfaces – as smooth as possible – in high traffic spots. I like hitting the Williamsburg Bridge

Would you rather work with permission or without it when you’re out on the streets?

Without it! I love making art anywhere, but if what I’m doing is legal, it doesn’t feel like street art.

Does any specific work you shared on the streets stand out to you?

My most meaningful one was the Trump troll wheatpaste. I designed it back in 2020. It was the biggest street art piece I’d done to date and getting it out there made me feel like a real street artist.

What about experiences or encounters while getting up? Have you any particularly memorable ones?

Yes! I was about to put up a new piece at Freeman Alley late at night when a homeless woman with luggage approached me. Something about her terrified me. I started to run and she ran after me. I then tried to distract her by pointing to the sky. I said, “Hey, look at that!” She did and I quickly made my escape!

Do you prefer working alone or with others?

I generally like to work alone, but I like collaborating with other artists on stickers. Among the artists I’ve collaborated with are Chris RWK and ButtSup.

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings? If so, where?

Yes! I’ve exhibited in several places. Among them are: 17 Frost, Artel, All Street, The Glass Box Gallery, 188 Allan Street and One Art Space.

Have you any particular cultural influences?

Urban architecture and urban life, in general, are my biggest influence. I used to work as an architect.

How do you feel about the movement of street art and graffiti into galleries?

I like it! It gives me an opportunity to meet new people who have similar sensibilities.

And have you any feelings — positive or negative — regarding the engagement of graffiti and street artists with the corporate world?

I have no problem at all with it, so long as what is being promoted aligns with my values. It’s great for artists to get to do what they love to do and get paid for it!

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They’re my biggest fans.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

100%. I also work as a designer.

Have you any other avid interests?

Vegan food.

How do you feel about the role of social media in this scene?

I hate that we artists need to engage with it.

Have you a formal art education? If so, do you value it?

Yes. I studied Architecture at Shenkar College in Tel Aviv. And I do value it because it helped me develop a good sense of design.

When you paint murals – as you’ve begun to do recently – do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

I work with a sketch, but I would like to be more spontaneous.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? 

Yup! I won’t stop working on it until I am.

How important is commercial success to you at this point in your career?

At this point it isn’t important. Right now my focus is on gaining experience.

Are there any particular challenges that you’ve had to overcome these past few years?

Yes. I was sick with Lyme disease for over two years. It affected every aspect of my life, including my art. It made my art darker.

As an American/Moroccan/Israeli artist, how have the recent events in the Middle East impacted you?

It took me over a month to overcome the initial shock as to what happened in Israel on October 7. My entire body was in a state of shock. And once the reality had set in, I felt I had to get a message out on the streets. Inspired by the kidnapped posters I began seeing taped onto all kinds of surfaces, I designed my own featuring a real baby who had been kidnapped – covered by a strip of tape. I then began posting them in public spaces.

What’s ahead?

More solo shows and more large murals. It’s been wonderful to paint on the streets here in Downtown Brooklyn and to have the opportunity to engage with passersby who have shown me so much love!

Note: You can find out more about Eye Sticker and visit her shop here.

Eye Sticker interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Rachel Alban and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1. 6, 7 & 8 Lois Stavsky; 3, 4 & 5 courtesy Eye Sticker 

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The following guest post was submitted by street art enthusiast, arts writer and photographer Kristy Calabro 

A delightfully versatile and accessible form of artistic expression, sticker art is documented and celebrated in the groundbreaking, AXS Film Fund-winner, “Sticker Movie.”  Spanning 23 countries and over 80 artists, “Sticker Movie” offers an intimate glance into this beloved graffiti/street art subculture.

In anticipation of its East Coast premiere this weekend — January 12, 13, and 14 — at Brooklyn Art Haus, I had the opportunity to talk to its director, Will Deloney aka Chilly Willy’s Igloo and producer/writer Sha-Risse Smith aka Agent5Smith.

When did you first come up with the idea of making a documentary on sticker culture?

Will: The idea for “Sticker Movie” started during a serendipitous sticker trade with Sha-Risse Smith aka Agent5Smith. As we chatted, I discovered that she had written a feature film, “Strive,” starring Danny Glover. In pitching the idea of the documentary to her, instantly it became clear – we were the dream team for ““Sticker Movie.”  Sha-Risse not only possessed exceptional writing skills, but also proved to be an outstanding producer with an extensive network in the sticker community. Agent and I embarked on a journey that felt truly magical.

Sha-Risse: The idea was swirling around in my head for some time. I knew the work it would take, and I could not do it alone. After trading stickers and vibing over Hendrix, Will messaged me about a collaboration, and I agreed. That was January 3rd, 2021.

What do you think is the main appeal (‘appeel’) of stickers?

Sha-Risse: Stickers appeal to different people for different reasons, but the common factor is that they are low-risk. When getting up, stickers are quick and easy. People are less likely to get caught. But risks can also be financial. Stickers are relatively inexpensive. Someone may not be able to afford a canvas or print, but they can buy a sticker. Artists may not have money for spray paint or supplies, but they can grab a handful of label 228s for free. With stickers, there is less at stake.

Will: First, there’s the nostalgia factor – taking us back to the simpler joys of childhood, getting a gold star sticker for an achievement. I’ve never thought about this until now, but gold stars in video games awarded must have come from that same achievement concept. Also, the compact nature of stickers means artists can transform any surface — bringing creativity to unexpected places. Their accessibility and ease make them the democratic go-to’s of street artists. Collecting and trading stickers fosters a sense of connection and don’t forget their DIY spirit – stickers are the punk rock of the art world: rebellious, personal, and extremely contagious.

Stickers are an escape; they’re therapy, and a way to mark a spot to say, “I was here.”   What do you see as  the primary advantage of stickers?

Sha-Risse: Stickers are a form of art therapy. When getting up, I exercise, breathe fresh air, and interact with my environment. I often walk for hours around the city putting up stickers and photographing street art. It’s cathartic. The best use of stickers is to simply enjoy them.

Abe Lincoln Jr once said, “Stickers are little bite-sized civil disobedience.” Are stickers the answer to all the capitalist propaganda out there?

Sha-Risse: All street art is the answer to capitalist propaganda. However, stickers are unique. You can put one image in many places fairly quickly. But you can also fit several in one space. Their small size is an advantage. You can send them around the world and get up in places you have never been. Stickers are unmatched when it comes to coverage.

How was it like to experience the “Sticker Movie” premiere in Portland? And why did you choose to show it there first?

Will: From day one, we wanted “Sticker Movie” to be a cinematic experience, and Cinemagic, the magical independent theater in Portland where we screened, was flawless. The city’s vibrant and supportive community of artists, coupled with its thriving street art scene, made it an obvious choice. Portland embraces creativity, and we knew that our film would feel right at home among the eclectic and open-minded residents. Witnessing the genuine enthusiasm was the ultimate reward for the time and energy invested in the documentary. Portland not only hosted our premiere, but it became an integral part of the story we were telling.

Sha-Risse: Overall, my experience in Portland was incredible. There were tears of overwhelming joy and relief. We pulled off three screenings and four events in one weekend. We worked hard. I am grateful to the community of sticker heads and normies who came out to support us. I am thankful for the old and new friends who welcomed me. There was so much love in Portland; I will never forget that experience.

I loved when Slappy says, “When you have stickers, you’re never alone.”  Have you any thoughts regarding how stickers bring people together?

Sha-Risse:  I encourage others to discover the community organically on their own. Attend a show, make sticker trades, and find individuals you connect with. Do what works for you. Like the art we create, each person’s experience is uniquely theirs. I am not countering Slappy’s line. I wrote it because I believe it. But it is important to know that not everyone’s participation looks the same. That is the beautiful thing about our community. The sticker scene is diverse, and there is something for everyone.

Will: The communal nature of sticker culture is like an unspoken invitation to join a vibrant and inclusive creative tribe. Artists, collectors, photographers, and enthusiasts, drawn together by their love for this pocket-sized art form, share a unique bond that transcends geographical boundaries. The act of trading and sharing stickers becomes a language of its own, connecting individuals who might never have crossed paths otherwise. It’s a beautiful collision of creativity and camaraderie, proving that in the world of stickers, the adhesive that binds us is as strong as the art itself.

Do you want to give shoutouts to anyone who helped make this movie possible?

Sha-Risse: Shoutout to Niceo CM. He supported me throughout this journey, and I want to thank him publicly. Making “Sticker Movie” was challenging, and I vented to Niceo weekly and sometimes daily over the last three years. He listened while motivating me to toughen up and keep going. Also, shout out to Chris Robots Will Kill. He was the first artist to say, Yes, to being in the movie. Without his recommendations and help, we would not have this New York premiere.

Will: I really want to give my shoutout to Agent5Smith. Without her, none of this is possible. She has worked tirelessly with the mantra of “whatever is best for the film.” She has put over three years of her life into this film, and her love and passion for stickers is why we are here. Thank you, Agent. I love you. Also, shoutout to Dazey Phase, our Executive Producers on this journey.

Will there be a Sticker Movie 2?

Sha-Risse: There are some exciting things in the works. Stay tuned!

Produced by Emmy-winning creative studio Pixelated Ideas, it all started with a sicker trade…three years in the making of bringing small stickers to the big screen. When artists see their stickers displayed in diverse communities and in urban spaces, they feel a sense of pride. Connections are fostered locally and globally. Messages and ideas are shared, as mundane objects — like doors, lampposts, and mailboxes — are transformed into mini art galleries. An effective medium for self-expression, stickers, ultimately, unite us, as they bring like-minded people together.

Note: Friday night and Saturday’s screenings are sold out. Tickets can be purchased here for Sunday, January 14, 3 pm matinee, to be followed by a live podcast with City Kitty.

And running concurrently with the movie’s East Coast showing will be an art exhibit at Brooklyn Art Haus curated by SilverTunaStudios.

Note: This guest post was submitted by Kristy Calabro and edited for brevity by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy Kristy and Sticker Movie.

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This past Thursday, the wonderfully welcoming and elegant Blue Gallery NYC hosted Wall 2 Wall. Curated by the designer John Herbert Wright, it features an eclectic range of work by six artists, four of whom maintain a huge presence in public space.

Pictured above in front of two of his canvases is Meres One of 5Pointz fame — whose principal work space these days is his studio. Several more images of artworks on exhibit by artists who are also active on the streets follow:

Also by Meres One

Queens-based See TF in front of his photorealistic portraits on jacket

NJ-based Albertus Joseph alongside his expertly-rendered skull

Veteran graffiti writer Mike 171 standing alongside work by Question Marks– also tagged by SJK 171 and the legendary Taki 183 — with a copy of the seminal Wall Writers in his hand

Question Marks and Dirt Cobain

Located on the first floor of the Blue Building, 222 E. 46th Street, Wall 2 Wall can be viewed today through Wednesday, 1-5pm and at its Closing Reception, Dec. 21. 6-10pm.

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Rachel Alban, 3-6 Lois Stavsky

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On my most recent visit to this year’s Grandscale Mural Project in East Harlem, I came upon dozens of more alluring murals that have recently surfaced. The mural featured above was painted by Mas Paz and Guache, two Colombia-born multidisciplinary artists. Several more images representative of the extraordinary range of mural art gracing East Harlem in the vicinity of 125th Street follow:

New Jersey native Diego Molina

Local artist DaQuane Cherry 

 Queens native Al Ruiz 

Local artist Marthalicia Matarrita

Bronx native  Jose Aurelio Baez

Bronx-based Chelsea Garcia and Jio assess their work in progress

Photos; Lois Stavsky

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Showcasing some of my favorite artists, along with others who are new to me, First Street Green Art Park — located where  Manhattan’s Lower East Side meets the East Village — is one of our city’s treasures. The image featured above was fashioned by Carson DeYoung aka Deps One, a former Brooklynite now based in Tucson, Arizona. Several more images that have surfaced in the past few months at First Street Green Art Park follow:

NYC-based Cram Concepts, Ratchi and Outer Source — segment from a huge collaborative production

Brooklyn-based Jeff Henriquez 

Mexico City-based Trasheer

Mexico City-based Nerik Martinez aka Ramsteko

Ezra Cumbo aka Rah Artz

The prolific OptimoNYC  for Dopey podcast

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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The Grandscale Mural Project is once again transforming the streets of East Harlem into an oasis of beauty and intrigue. While visiting this past Sunday, I came upon dozens of completed walls, along with dozens of works in progress representing a wide range of styles and themes. Featured above is the lovely Colombia-born, East Harlem-based artist Gia Gutierrez — standing to the right of her newly-completed mural. Several more images captured this past Sunday follow:

South Bronx-raised, Puerto Rican artist Olga Correa

East Harlem-based, Stockholm-born artist Scratch

New York-based, Chilean artist Cekis

NYC-based Caryn Cast diligently at work on her portrait of the legendary singer, songwriter & guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe

NYC-born and based artist Cram Concepts

NYC-based, New Jersey-bred illustrator Anna Lustberg

BC1 and Al Ruiz collaborative mural featuring the late, legendary Tito Puente

Note: Keep posted to Street Art NYC Threads for more images from this year’s Grandscale Mural Project curated by Uptown Grand Central.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Laura “Lulu” Reich and Koz, founder of SilverTuna Studios, have once again launched a dazzlingly diverse exhibition featuring works by a range of wonderfully gifted graffiti and urban artists. The splendid painting featured above, Subway China, was fashioned with oil-based enamel on canvas by the Australian artist Damien Mitchell. A small selection of images featured in Stay Up on view through November 12 at City Point BKLYN — follow:

NYC-based, Puerto Rico-born artist Epic Uno, “Midnight Blue,” Acrylic and woodcut on panel

Brooklyn-based Colombian artist Praxis, “Make Your Dreams Reality,” Stencils and spraypaint on canvas

The amazingly prolific Staten Island-based artist Chris RWK, “Trusting,” Mixed media on canvas

Dublin born and based artist Solus, “Full,” Spraypaint on canvas

Queens-born and based artist Belowkey, “Interiors Grape Ape,” Acrylic on canvas

The ever-versatile Bronx-based artist Zimad, “Teabag,” Mixed media on canvas

The internationally renowned Bronx-born artist Cope2, “33rd Street Station-6 Line,” Mixed media on subway sign

City Point BKLYN, easily accessible by public transportation, is located at 445 Albee Square West in Downtown Brooklyn. The gallery, located on the first floor, is open Thursday through Sunday 1-7pm and Monday through Wednesday by appointment. You can contact Lulu to make an appointment at lulu@collectwithlulu.com.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Celebrating 50 years of women spraypainting NYC, the NYC Graffiti Women’s Festival brought flavor and flair to Hunts Point’s performance and event venue, Bronxlandia, and its surroundings earlier this month. While visiting the site, I had the opportunity to speak to Bronx-based artist, curator and arts educator Lady K Fever who – along with Bronxlandia owner Majora Carter – spearheaded the event.

Can you tell us a bit of the backstory? How did this event come to be?

I had painted a mural earlier this year at Bronxlandia, and when its owner, Majora Carter — who’s very supportive of the arts — offered the space to me to curate, I came up with the idea of inviting women to paint this spot and its neighboring gates in honor of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary.

And what was the festival’s particular mission?

We wanted to reflect and enhance the flavor of the neighborhood, while honoring hip-hop. We also wanted to provide a space for women artists to come together with the community and celebrate one another. This festival was somewhat of a fusion and an extension of two of my previous projects: The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery and Her Story

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing the event through?

The cost of insurance — especially when it involves graffiti and hip-hop — was a major business concern. Other challenges included: finding several additional nearby spaces; painting on shutters and gates, as those were our primary surfaces, and securing funding to pay for essential supplies. We are extremely grateful t0 Peter and JP at Burton NYC and to Low Brow Paint & Supply for coming through.

How did the event go? What was the day like?

It was wonderful. There was so much positive energy. Dozens of folks of all ages came through and hung out. We had great female deejays and spontaneous breakdancing. There was a wonderful group of volunteers and delicious food. And Bronx-native Mrs. had the opportunity to make her mark on the roof!

And what’s ahead for you?

Along with Andre Trenier, I will be featured in a show next year at Bronx Art Space. I will also be visiting a range of universities as a guest artist. And I’m working on a curriculum and varied educational programs related to graffiti. I don’t want the history of women in graffiti to be lost.

Note:  If you reside in the Tri-state area, you can win a Burton snowboard, a selection of street art books and more from Low Brow, when you enter the 2023 Art Raffle to support the arts and education. You can either submit artwork on a custom art template with a $20 entry fee or purchase a raffle ticket for $30. Email NYCgraffitiwomenfestival@gmail.com for more information on how to enter. Deadline is Nov 7th 2023.

Images:

  1. Lovenotes
  2. Lady K Fever
  3. Nasa One
  4. Chare and Flô
  5. Kstar
  6. Alice Mizrachi
  7. Mrs
  8. Miki Mu, Lexi Bella and Claw Money
  9. Flyer designed by Zori4

Photo credits: 1-6 & 8 Lois Stavsky; 7 courtesy Lady K Fever; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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In this twelfth post in our new series, PUSHING IT FORWARD — featuring ILLicit creatives claiming space on NYC streets — we’re back to Manhattan. Pictured above on a West Side shutter are Katsu, EM1 and Neckface   Several more images of unsanctioned Manhattan markings follow:

Ansotto

Volvo and Reboe, LNE

West Coast writer Jazman and Optimo NYC, along with a political statement/question

Ansotto and Goog

Homesick and Wild Boy West

Wombat, Aneko, ZigZag, Saxon, Suckybat and more

Nilo

Note: A limited edition of the Pushing It Forward collective’s first zine — edited by Lois Stavsky and designed by Lord K2 — was recently released. Several copies are available at Village Works in NYC and at So Books in Tokyo, Japan.

Post and photos by the Pushing It Forward Collective

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Founded and curated by Miki Mu and Frankie Velez, the BedStuy Walls Mural Festival has once again transformed Lexington Avenue between Stuyvesant and Lewis Streets into a delectable visual feast, while actively engaging the local community and beyond.

The sumptuous image featured above was painted collaboratively by members of Mz. Icar, a collective of primarily Black female interdisciplinary artists “creatively taking up space.”  Several more images captured this past Sunday follow:

Brooklyn-based Vince Ballentine paints the Nigerian-American singer and composer Mary Akpa

Brooklyn-based Jeff Henriquez captured at work

Chicago-based Caesar Perez

Long Island-based master of monsters Phetus88

Brooklyn-based Question Marks at work with Alana Tsui above Matt Siren’s iconic character

Manhattan-based Funqest

Bronx-born and bred Andre Trenier at work

As it “takes a village” to launch such a remarkable event, among the many who helped make it possible are: NYC Thrive Collective, The Philos Project, Philos Latino, Jesse Rojo, Good Times Deli, Pastor Robert Waterman and Atiba Edwards.

Keep posted to the Street Art NYC Instagram and Threads for more images from this year’s edition of the BedStuy Walls Mural Festival. And you can help sustain this model of community engagement by contributing to the fundraiser, organized by Miki Mu.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 & 8, Lois Stavsky; 3 & 6 Ana Candelaria

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