At the beginning of last month myself and a few fellow bloggers were invited by Logitech UK to undertake a street art and graffiti tour of Shoreditch / Hoxton and having had an interest in the subject for as long as I can remember it was an offer that was difficult to decline. We started out our day with breakfast at The Hoxton, a charming hotel based right in the middle of Great Eastern Street. Throughout the day we were guided by an expert from the Graffiti Kings called Frank who may have looked like your best mates dad but had an awesome history of tagging and used to sneak into train yards when he was younger in the hope of making a street name for himself.
Logitech were kind enough to provide us with iPads for the day, their new Keys-to-go portable bluetooth keyboards and protective covers to make the whole experience as efficient as possible. We were also joined by Kate Forster, a professional Instagrammer who was on hand to give us challenges en route and some of her own mobile photography tips. As you will see by the images below I forgot to take the protective cover off my iPad so some pictures turned out with a slightly unwanted soft focus effect but hey, you don’t get anywhere without trial and error.
Graffiti Kings that I mentioned above are a group of graffiti and street artists that work with some of the worlds biggest brands developing street art so it was amazing to hear some of Frank’s stories about street art that he got to experience first hand. Frank also had a knack for pointing out pieces that most of us would have missed such as the work of Ben Wilson who has been dubbed ‘The Chewing Gum Artist’ because of his reliance on chewing gum to create some of his smaller pieces.
Frank also talked about the difference between graffiti and street art and how graffiti is often seen as something which scars the landscape, a sign of urban decay and generally something people look down on. Street art on the other hand enhances an area or a building and graffiti can be considered a form of street art (if done well) and comes in different forms such as stickers, stencils, installations and 3D paintings. In some of the images below you will see the diverse nature of street art and the way it has amplified the Shoreditch / Hoxton area in the past few years.
One of the most prominent street artists whose work we saw was Paul Don Smith. His signature is known as the ‘banker’, an image of a businessman wearing a trilby hat which looks like a tap with running water. You will be able to spot Paul’s signature in some of the pictures below but if you can’t here’s a tip – he loves to tag iconic figures and prominent public icons.
Throughout the tour there was a real international flavour to the works with artists hailing from Paris, Rome, New York, Portugal and of course London. Space Invader was my particular favourite as this artist from Paris actually has his own iOS app ‘FlashInvaders’ that you can download and earn points by spotting his works around the world.
Next on the agenda was Blackall Street in Shoreditch and to say it’s awash with art is an understatement. Located just off Great Eastern Street it is a glorified art alley which forms the back end of a number of old warehouse type buildings.
Numerous artists such as D7606 with his phone box paste ups, Dscreet with his owls, Stik, Pablo and Delgado have tagged the walls here and I also managed to spot a couple of pieces by the French street artist C215 who has been described as “France’s answer to Banksy”.
The Leonard Street carpark (above) attracted big names in graffiti such as CEPT, Cyrcle, Mysterious Al and Rone over the years, but as you can tell from the picture the much loved street art area will soon be gentrified to make way for flats and a swanky hotel. The piece on the far right by Rone was by far my favourite of the tour and really illustrates the fragility and short lifespan of most of these works. I wonder if the workers felt any sort of compunction when tearing it down or whether they simply paid it no attention (A larger image of Rone’s work is shown below).
‘UR SO PORNO BABY’ by Mr Dot Fahrenheit was a piece that caught my eye immediately. I don’t know why I liked the saying but perhaps the small shock factor and sounding like an Austin Powers quote probably had something to do with it.
Further on the tour we found a 3D face created in concrete by Vhils from Portugal who worked on the piece for a number of hours using only a few hammers and chisels. I urge you all to check out his work as it’s truly exceptional, this little piece in Hoxton was just a small teaser.
Street artist from Sheffield by the name of Phlegm also made an appearance as his striking style can be spotted from a mile away. Phlegm’s artworks focus on long limbed half-human, half-woodland creatures and are almost seen as something from a surreal parallel monochrome universe.
Throughout the day we began spotting street art pieces all over the place including some hard to find side-streets, tops of buildings and telephone boxes. It’s interesting that most people don’t look up when walking through their city but street artists are putting on a strong case to help us curb the habit.
The main picture below was again taken on Blackall Street which was one of the locations for our Instagram competition with Logitech. To get the perfect shot I ended up using the protective cover as a makeshift tripod and editing the final result with the VSCO Cam iOS app.
Logitech Keys-to-go Portable Keyboards
After the tour was over we were given the chance to catch a breather back at The Hoxton, grab some lunch and go over our shots with Kate and get them ready for the mini competition. Frank was also on hand to provide some last minute info about the graffiti artists we managed to spot through the day.
I started working on this post straight away as my working memory is poor at the best of times and here’s where the Keys-to-go portable keyboards really came into their own. After pairing the iPad and the keyboard via bluetooth I could work effortlessly while still engaging in conversation with my group and the tactile response from the keys made the actual process of typing more enjoyable than simply tapping on a glass screen.
The keyboard itself was ridiculously thin and also covered in something called FabricSkin which means you no longer have to worry about things like crumbs and unwanted coffee spills. Having used my Keys-to-go keyboard for a few weeks now I have found it to be pretty indispensable for blogging as it’s lightweight and simple nature makes it the perfect portable companion.
If you wanna get one for yourself just follow this link – Logitech Keys-to-go
Shoreditch / Hoxton Street Art Inspiration
What are some of your favourite street art pieces? Leave me a comment below.