Some would say to be a “real” street artist, you have to keep it real in the streets. In other words, constantly doing bigger, riskier more provocative works in public and private spaces. But the minute that artist experiences any sort of financial success for his or her art, he or she is labeled a “sell-out” ala Shepard Fairey.
I strongly disagree. Like many of my contemporaries, the “streets” might be considered our birth place, in terms of notoriety and reputation. And it definitely has provided and continues to provide me with stimulation and inspiration. Still, I’m just an artist. And the streets are simply one of many mediums and/or canvases I use to craft and express my art. The streets don’t define me.
I recently attended an exceptional exhibition by Ron English, where many of his works were priced in excess of $180,000, and quite of few of those had red dots indicating they were sold. Yet, his success in the galleries, product endorsements, and other commercially successful ventures in my opinion do not in any way diminish his credibility as one of our great “street artists.” He is simply a talented artist, who has worked hard at his craft for many years, and is now earning the recognition and financial compensation that goes along with it.
So, yes. I am a New York Street Artist. Although some would argue, I’m really a nobody. And yes, I did do a line of t-shirts for a nationally know retail chain. And yes, my recent solo show in Norway’s Galleri Galleberg was besieged with red dots (wink). But let me assure you, even with my art selling out around the world, my “soul” has not been sold, nor is it for sale. I believe success is a by-product of talent, hard work, and persistence. So label me what you want, I’m going to continue to work at being “somebody.”