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Ray Anthony Barrett, “Porchmonkey Pawns For Manicured Lawns Jockey For Position Without Inquisition (Battle Chess), from "Porch Monkeys" (2014)

Ray Anthony Barrett, “Porchmonkey Pawns For Manicured Lawns Jockey For Position Without Inquisition (Battle Chess), from “Porch Monkeys” (2014)

Los Angeles artist Ray Anthony Barrett likes to play with 90’s hip hop vernacular and transform words into literal interpretations using anthropomorphism with pen and ink on paper. The animal faces serve as masks, shielding the true identities of the subjects in question, and further exploring the idea behind society’s incessant need to commodify native themes and exaggerate the very spectacle that has become infotainment.

Manipulating paradoxes found in the language of hip hop, Barrett combines his own brand of dry humour as well as poignant critical  observation. Drawing from his own freestyle verses, he creates a mirror-like dynamic through his stream-of-consciousness between the words on the page of his notebook, with the lines that extrude from his pen on the page of his illustrations. The fun part is that he dissects the derogatory using this technique – and reveals it’s anthropomorphic nature – only to link it back up to their origins in African-American cultural folklore.

Hip-hop is a trickster vernacular — it’s full of hybrids, playful, always shape-shifting, and as soon as the society of the spectacle, to borrow Debord’s terminology, gets a hold of it, it’s already changing into something else — a new word is born from the source of the hip-hop lexicon and the old one remains an empty commodity to be consumed. Like jiggy it’s got no juice anymore, and hasn’t for a long time. With nearly eight million definitions, the open-sourced Urban Dictionary is an example of how the rules of “combat” demand more of a personal, micro-level engagement — like guerilla warfare, but with the alchemy of words.”
– Ray Anthony Barrett

Check out an amazingly-in-depth interview with the artist on Hyperallergic.

And to find out more about Ray Anthony Barrett, check out his website.

“Bear Bare-backing Buck” from Ruff Ridin’ (2014)

“Bear Bare-backing Buck” from Ruff Ridin’ (2014)

“Crazy Horse” from Treaty Treatises (2014)

“Crazy Horse” from Treaty Treatises (2014)

“While Jungle Bunnies Hip-Hop the Doom Broom” from Porch Monkeys (2014)

“While Jungle Bunnies Hip-Hop the Doom Broom” from Porch Monkeys (2014)

“Unseeing Eyes Glued to Inflated Boobtubes”, from "Boobtubes" (2013)

“Unseeing Eyes Glued to Inflated Boobtubes”, from “Boobtubes” (2013)

“From No Place, To Home”, from "Dakar" (2014)

“From No Place, To Home”, from “Dakar” (2014)

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In late 2001, activist Peter Gibson created his own guerilla campaign to try and sway the city of Montreal to rethink their street planning strategies and increase the number of bike lanes. Rather than turning to extremism, he used street art as his weapon of choice, modifying the markings on public pavement, roads, sidewalks, and parking lots, simply using paint, and going by the clever moniker Roadsworth – a “poet of roads” rather than “words”, if you will.  In doing so, he’s opened up a huge opportunity for dialogue between both the police force and the politicians of the area about the fine line between the concept of street art versus that of vandalism. What began as a protest for more accessibility to bicyclists in the urban environment has grown into large-scale symbolic displays of both environmental and societal critique.

His work was “very simple, open-ended, ambiguous,” says Gibson. “They were also somewhat integrated with the environment — the street, the road markings — giving them an almost subliminal quality.” Gibson adds, “I think my intention was to create a language that would function as a form of satire, accentuating the absurdity inherent to certain aspects of urban living, urban space, [and] public policy.”

Problem is, the authorities didn’t see it the same way. He was arrested and they charged him with 51 counts of mischief, with fines ranging from $200 to $5000. Luckily the charges were dropped in 2006, and he was merely given a small fine and 40 hours of community service work – which involved creating art for The Plateau area of the city.

Roadsworth’s case really brings some important questions to the forefront of society – and underlines the fact that we are constantly bombarded with competing and contradictory information. How do we draw a line to differentiate the artistic act of openly publicly expressing oneself, and the destructive and single-minded act of vandalism and violation of public space? Public spaces should be designated as “free” spaces, shouldn’t they? Ones in which we are able to express whatever we choose, to an open population who is being suffocated by the very commercialized and stigmatized society in which it is forced to live. Roadsworth said it best,

“We aggressively pursue graffiti writers for scrawling their names on a wall across from a massive backlit billboard advertising Big Macs.”

What kind of a world is this, when art is relegated to being this big horrible threat on the corporate monopolization of spaces that are supposedly for everyone? I’m sure most people could agree. Not many people on the street were very opposed to Roadsworth’s creations – in fact, he had garnered quite a lot of support in his community.

What I think we need more of, is “artivists” – people who aren’t afraid to step across the boundaries and manipulate the commercialized elements of society in order to make us, the passerbys, question all sense of what is “freedom of expression”. People who express what the general populous is feeling, and is afraid to speak out on. People who risk their own freedom, in order to open the door for others.

“Painting images on the street is actually a very innocuous gesture in the face of the problems that exist. We are living in serious denial if we feel that business as usual is going to ensure our continued survival and well-being.”

Visit his website to learn more about his experience.

Check out this video to see him in action. Also, if you can, check out the National Film Board of Canada film that features his story – here’s the trailer.

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Lisbon-based urban “scrapffiti” artist Bordalo II is a master of creating compelling work from the refuse of the streets that surround him. Using a myriad of media to express his ideas, he interprets the city landscape in a whirlwind of assemblage that is as deeply rooted in chaos as it is in harmony and balance with the world around him. Not only is he recycling the trash around him, he is also providing commentary on his perception of how we live. He believes that though we have beautiful objects, they are often based on garbage, and we never really perceive that aspect.

His talent grew from a love of learning from his grandfather, who was a prolific Portugese painter, most known for his depictions of the streets of Lisbon. Having absorbed so much from his elder, he has evolved into a more modern version of his legacy. And he still has lots of time to grow…

Check out his website to see more amazing work. [Note: it still might be under construction]

“Like” him on Facebook and see his progress. He’s got lots of cool stuff posted all the time.

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30_2005painting3Michael Sieben’s illustrations have always been a favourite of mine. He’s been a staff writer and illustrator for Thrasher Magazine since 2004, peppering their pages with all forms of awesomeness and hilarity, and partnered with Stacy Lowery to found the super-fantastic Roger Skateboards brand in 2008. Aside from that, he’s one of the founding members behind Camp Fig Gallery, which lasted from 2002-2006 and is one of the founders of Okay Mountain Gallery in Austin, Texas since 2006.

His extensive collection of work has been showcased around the world, including major markets such as London, Japan, Mexico and Peru. As an illustrator and designer, he’s focused mainly on the wonderful world of skateboard subculture, and has worked for huge clients like Adidas, Bueno Skateboards, MySpace Secret Shows, Toy Machine, Upper Playground and Volcom Stone to name just a few.

Recently, Gingko Press and Upper Playground published a book of his artwork entitled There’s Nothing Wrong With You (Hopefully.) I’m dying to get my hands on this one – it’s available at Amazon, as well as on the Gingko Press website, and copies are flying off the shelves, so I better act fast.

To see more of Sieben’s wicked work, check out his website.

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For a self-taught artist, UK skater/surfer Ben Allen’s talent is quickly evolving and his work is increasing in popularity not only with art lovers, but also with celebrities. Richard Branson, Stephen Dorff and Jade Jagger are all huge fans of his work, and it’s no wonder – the imagery he creates is awesome and full of great pop culture icons. His art is now found in galleries across the world and in much of our advertising.

Allen works in a myriad of different materials and media, and his influences are heavily saturated throughout each piece – comic book, surf and skateboard culture, Mexican “Dia de la Muerte” style, various forms of typography, nature, Japanese graphics, and the human condition are all represented. His work is infused with the gradual corrosion of society and the urban environment – the art of fading, peeling, cracking over time, and creating a fresh, and unpredictable style. He works off the top of his head, letting each piece evolve on it’s own, out of objects from the everyday, creating layers of time – yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Some of his corporate clients include Levis, Virgin, Channel 5, The Hoxton Hotel, Nokia, DJ Eric Morillo, and Subliminal Records. He’s also been featured in major magazines internationally including Design Week, The Observer, The Times, Elle Déco, Plus 1, FRANKIE and GQ. In 2012, he’s got some stellar work on permanent display in Selfridges, London and he’s been touring with his work in New York, The Hamptons, Singapore, Korea, Miami and L.A.

To check out more of Ben Allen’s explosive work, check out his website.

New York stencil artist Logan Hicks creates beautifully mundane and often haunting images of urban environments and the people that populate them. His current work consists mostly of hand-sprayed stencils, an evolution from his previous methods of screenprinting.

Logan illustrates his subjects in a very photorealistic approach, juxtaposing the gritty urban nature of spraypaint as depicting the natural decay of the metropolis against the dull glare of metallic paint that illustrates the muted glimmer of hopeful optimism that lies within. He has a very intimate relationship with his landscape and the people that thrive within it and the dynamics that are evoked by such and environment.

To find out more about Logan Hicks and see his portfolio, visit his website, Work Horse Visuals.






Justin Bua is a New York City artist who is well known in the graffiti scene, but has been making major waves in the global art community. He is mostly known for creating nostalgic pieces about the way things used to be in his neighbourhood – the community was alive with music, street art, and street performances during the early years of the rap scene in the boroughs of New York. 


Bua is a caricaturist, and his depictions of the community that surrounds him have made him a prolific artist, capturing the essence of urban street life in his own stylistic way. His people are drawn out of proportion and their true individualistic details are what give each person their character.


Many of his works involve the theme of the four elements of Hip Hop: breakdancing, DJ’ing, MC’ing, and graffiti art. Hip Hop originally gave people the opportunity to find something productive to do in a time where crack-cocaine was becoming prevalent and destroying the community. Bua also depicts the world of underground jazz. I’ve been collecting his prints for years and can’t wait to get my hands on some more. You can check out his website and see where he will be showing his latest exploits by clicking here



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