street artivism

With street artists fiercely focusing now on addressing the social, economic and racial inequalities that the pandemic has only accentuated, Bill Posters’ new book, The Street Art Manual, is particularly timely. It is a paean to the spirit of art as activism.

For the past decade, Bill Posters — an award-winning artist, author and agitator — has worked alongside other artists and activists to create some of the world’s most illicit and impressive art projects. In The Street Art Manual, he earnestly, but playfully, presents practical guidance and advice on creating street art that challenges the inequitable status quo.

Providing tactics for successfully mounting campaigns that infiltrate the public sphere with everything from graffiti, stencils and pasteups to huge murals, projectiles and guerrilla projections, Poster discusses and describes in detail the necessary materials and techniques each mission demands. He also provides an extensive list of DO’s and DON’T’s for each of the distinct genres of street art. Should you subvert advertisements, for example, you are advised to “look like an employee of an outdoor-ad company” and not to “go out at a time that is different from when the real worker goes out to work.”

While many of the interventions featured are unsanctioned and can — if not carried out cautiously — involve a range of risks, not all are. One of the mediums included in The Street Art Manual is mural art. Large-scale murals — which so many of us have come to identify with corporate interests and gentrification — can also enrich neighborhoods. Artists painting outdoor murals have the opportunity and space to raise awareness of critical issues, celebrate distinct cultures and engage local folks. It is a way for artists, contends Posters, to give back to others while awakening consciousness.

The Italian artist Millo, for example, painted an 11-story-tall mural in the center of Santiago symbolizing “the hope that we must all find in relation to protecting the environment and reversing the ecological destruction that is causing our climate to collapse.”

Of particular interest to us street art aficionados is Post’s summary of each art form’s history. Wheat-pasting or poster-bombing can be traced back to 2000 BCE when papyrus was used to create promotional posters and flyers — formerly called bills — in such places as ancient Arabia, China, Greece, Rome and Egypt.  And we learn that yarn bombing, an increasingly popular international mode of public guerrilla expression, originally started in Houston, Texas in 2005 by a woman named Magda Sayeg who went on to gather a crew, Knitta Please.

Illustrated by Matt Bonner and published by Laurence King Publishing, Bill Posters’ The Street Art Manual delights, informs and provokes. It also renews our faith in street art as a tool for progressive social change in these fragile times.

Released globally today, September 3, the book is available here.

Images courtesy Laurence King Publishing.

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A PangeaSeed Foundation public art program, Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans is committed to bringing the message of ocean conservation into streets around the world. With over 350 murals created in 15 countries, Sea Walls is a model of ARTivism on a global scale. During her recent visit to Cozumel, Mexico, travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad captured several of the Sea Walls murals that have surfaced in this Caribbean island off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

Pictured above is Mapache’s Stare, a mural painted earlier this year by South African artist Sonny Sundancerfeaturing a pygmy raccoon endangered with habitat loss. Several more images of Cozumel-based Sea Walls murals follow:

Australian artist Meggs, Coral Conch Shell, 2015

Canadian artist Jason Botkin, Protect What You Love, 2015

UK-based Phlegm, Untitled, 2015

Mexican artist Secreto Rebollo, Letanía, 2019

Argentine artist Nicolas Romero Escalada aka Ever, Untitled, 2015

International duo Alegria Del Prado, Su Vida Es Nuestra Vida, 2019

Photos: Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Based in Johannesburg, UK native Sonny recently brought his extraordinary talents and passion for animals to NYC. I had the opportunity to speak to him when he took a brief break from painting a massive mural overlooking Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

What brought you to NYC?

I am here to launch my first mural in North America for the To the Bone project in partnership with IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

What is the mission of the To the Bone project?

It utilizes street art to increase awareness of animal conservation and to raise funds to rescue animals in crisis throughout the globe.

sonny-sundancer-mural-close-up

What spurred your engagement in the project?

Living in South Africa surrounded by animals, I developed a passion for them. And painting them on huge murals is a positive way for me to do street art and pay tribute to the beauty of these animals, while raising attention to their plight.

Where else will this project be taking you?

In the weeks ahead, I will be painting in Canada, Russia and in India.

What are some of the other animals represented in the To the Bone Project?

Among them are a rhino, a leopard, an elephant, a bear and a gorilla.  There will be a total of ten, with the gorilla the face of an upcoming exhibition in London.

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You’ve also painted several canvases and released prints in coordination with this project.

Yes. The original artwork will be exhibited and auctioned off, with prints of the works available online — with 10% of sales donated to South Africa landscape work and IFAW’s work with tigers in Russia. Among the original works are hand-painted skull replicas that showcase endangered animals from around the world. These paintings show the animals’ faces breaking away to reveal the raw skeletons underneath, symbolic of how these beautiful creatures are quickly fading away.

Can you tell us something about the patterns that adorn your works? 

They are tribal patterns from the animals’ countries of origin. When we lose these animals, we’re losing a part of our heritage too. That is the message conveyed by these distinct patterns.

Sonny-Sundancer-mural-art-Jelani- Johannesburg

Your murals are stunning. Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught. I painted my first large-scale mural three years ago.

That’s quite impressive! Are there any muralists out there who have inspired you?

Among these whose works have inspired me are Case Maclaim and Faith47.

Sonny-Sundancer-mural-art-canada

How can folks support your project?

They can visit our website to learn more about the To the Bone project and buy artwork. And they can help us raise money for the IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare by donating here.

Good luck with your project.  And we are thrilled that you launched the international tour of To the Bone here in NYC.

Images:

1-3 New York Lion

4  Jelani, Johannesburg

5 Grizzly Bear, Cambridge Street Art Festival, Ontaria

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 3 Karin du Maire; 4 & 5 courtesy Tess Cunliffe

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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