The Scrawl Collective story began in 1998 and have since been doing big things following the publication of Scrawl, Dirty Graphics and Strange Characters in the early days. This was the first book that really picked up where Henry Chalfont’s seminal Spray Can Art and Subway Art left off. In Scrawl the growth of the 80’s graffiti scene, combined with the cultural influence of Star Wars, comic books and Japanese Anime was traced and the artists who grew out of that scene to become designers, illustrators, printers and film makers were well documented. The book featured such luminaries as Futura, Doze, Mode2 and SheOne from the graffiti scene and also a piece by a very young pre Stencil Banksy. Ric Blackshaw has been identifying barely noticed young illistrators and artists and developing the talent that comes out Bristol ever since. Now comes ‘Special Relationship’ show which opens in Los Angeles on Jan 19th and features the artists of Scrawl Collective from the UK with the support of Scion. Check out the flyer, some graphices and Scrawl’s founder Ric Blackshaw answers to some questions about the show below…
What is the theme or meaning of the show?
Well we’ve called the show Special Relationship which is a reference to the often touted political special relationship that is said to exist between the USA and the UK. We’ve decided to have a bit of fun with that idea because from our point of view the special political relationship is a tad one sided. i.e. our government likes to think it has some influence over yours but they are the only ones who believe it.
There is though another special relationship that has thrived since the post war years and that’s the cultural one. Music, TV, Film, Literature… We in the UK grew up on a diet of Sesame St, The Muppets, Rock n Roll… and there seems to have been a constant to-ing and fro-ing of ideas across the Atlantic. Since the 60’s there’s been a pattern of thing that come out of America being initially ignored at home but finding a foothold and acclaim in the UK before finally getting recognition at home. Jimi Hendrix had to come to the UK to
make his mark, it took a nightclub and a few fanatics in Manchester to recognize the groundbreaking work of the house and techno pioneers that came out of Detroit and Chicago in the mid 80’s. Before that there were countless small soul labels in the USA that were kept going because kids in the North of England were buying there 45’s in droves and giving birth to Northern Soul. It’s something that should be a cause of celebration. So the show is loosely based on that idea, I say loosely because so many artists are going to have different ideas about the theme and I don’t like to be to prescriptive about the themes of our shows. I want the artists to be able to work on what they feel good about at the time.
Also because this is our first major show in LA I wanted to exhibit some stuff from our recent past and to that end I’m bringing some framed editions of our ongoing screen print series.
We like to provide a range of stuff for these big shows from $50 to much more expensive things. Something for everyone really.
How did you select and find the artists involved?
Scrawl Collective is pretty much a stable of artists so I always work with the same guys. We add new members occasionally so for instance this will be the first time we’ve exhibited the work of RYCA and Hutch as part of a Scrawl Show, but generally we’re a tight knit bunch who work together a lot.
How did Scion find you and approach you to do a show?
We know Evan Cerasoli from way back, I’ve curated shows in the UK and Berlin with his wife Freddi under the name Streetwise.
What’s been the biggest challenge you faced in putting together this show?
Making sure so many artists meet their deadlines…
Is there anything in particular you would like people to take away from this show – what would you like to inspire in those that view the
Hopefully we’ll make people smile, there’s a lot of humour in some of the work and also people will hopefully be amazed at our installation work. This is a rare chance for people in LA to see large scale murals by the likes of Will Barras, Mr Jago and Phlash. In my opinion there’s only a few artists in the world that can match their virtuosity. The other thing I hope people will take from this show is some art that they’ve bought cos lets face it we’ve all gots bills to pay when we get home…
What do you have lined up for the future? What’s next after this show?
Once this show is out of the way I have to start work in earnest on a new book about Street Art that should be coming out late next year. That’s gonna take up most of my time for a few months…