In today’s youth culture, there’s a growing attractiveness for a new kind of cultural hero, namely street and graffiti artists. In our presentation at the MAGIC Fashion Trade Show February 18th, one of the key topics was how street and graffiti artists have become our new heroes, but also how they’ve clearly influenced brand marketing and advertising strategies, as well as trends in fashion, technology, and art.
While we have an entire section devoted to stories on various street and graffiti topics, in the past 2 months especially, we’ve covered the various incidents surrounding Shepard Fairey. First, Shepard’s press attention with his Obama Hope poster campaign, arrest by the Boston cops in their attempt to make him an example on his way to his ICA show opening, and the subsequent rise in the cred-factor of his Obey apparel line. In addition, he’s now slated to do a collaboration with Levi’s launching May 1st, and his agency has been tapped to work with Saks Fifth Avenue in New York towards creating a credible campaign.
In the picture above, the graffiti of the mouse in New York City is by Banksy -another famous cultural street artist hero (keyword search Banksy for more stories). Even though he’s from England, he travels the world, from the Wailing Wall to the Great Wall of China to the walls of this Lower East side building. Through his art and often ironic messages, he is giving structure new information to become something else. Basically redefining space.
Other top artists such as Andre (pictured here) from Paris has launched an entire denim collection, owns 2 hot nightclubs in Paris and New York, and is recently working on a collaboration creating the new look of a high-end vodka campaign.
The irony is that while these 3 street artists have had to go incognito for what they do when they’re doing it (i.e. wearing masks while stenciling or creating art during the night), and all three have had run-ins with the law more than once, they, like many other top street artists are also in high demand among brands towards gaining youth culture street credibility. So what you’re seeing is far more influences from street artists on marketing and advertising and across many different industries. Street and graffiti artists have become the beacons of a new type of messaging, using made-up personal fonts and images to express this generation’s feelings, and replacing the old-school models of what was once considered proper campaigning.
Cultural jamming is all a part of this. Taking mainstream ads and billboards or ideas and concepts, such as tweaking the electronic road sign to say “Zombies Ahead, Run!” caught national media attention, but is by no means the first of its kind. (Go to Woostercollective.com and they have an entire section dedicated to the best culture jamming street art in the world.) Taking back the streets and re-using advertising or billboards for a different purpose is clearly on the rise. And even advertisers are taking cues from the irony that their own ads are being recontextualized by spoofing even their own campaigns and adding irony to the irony to the point where sometimes you can’t even tell if it’s real.
Another is showcased in this picture of the Chanel logo gravestone, which the artist created to indicate the absurdity of our obsession with the brand and especially its logo, and in the process becoming dead to our own creative concepts and sensitivities to brands themselves.
In the final photo of the fur deer, this street artist is taking street art, fashion, and eco-consciousness to a new level by “upcycling” or taking the last phase of a product’s life and using it as something useful. In this case, it’s an old fur coat that’s been created into a meaningful message–an anti-statement statement -where the medium is also the message.