Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kenny Scharf: More, Newer, Better, Nower, Funner! #ArtInTheStreets

Last week at the premiere of "Outside In: Art in the Streets" the Kenny Scharf short film "More, Newer, Better, Nower, Funner!" was presented.

The film's title means a little more when you recognize that Kenny Scharf was the inventor of the name that stuck with Patti Astor's Fun Gallery! If you want to see Scharf's butt watch this film ;)

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Levi's presents: OUTSIDE IN: The Story of Art in the Streets #ArtInTheStreets

Tonight is the premiere of Alex Stapleton's film, "Outside In: The Story of Art in the Streets," at The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. As it says on the can, this Levi's-funded film gets behind the curtain and shows us the making of "Art in the Streets," the first major graffiti and street art exhibition supported by a museum. 

RSVPs for the film have closed, but a little birdy tells me the film will be showing at your favorite urban film festival soon. And you can still see the show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, currently in its second month

Danielle Hinde and Alex Stapleton

If you want exclusive and unique footage and interviews of the artists featured in Art in the Streets look no further than this film. "The film features exclusive interviews with show artists sharing their artistic process, pitfalls with the law and poetic impermanence of their craft." 

If you've ever wanted to know who the artists behind the art are, here's your chance: Martha Cooper, Lee Quiñones, Fab 5 Freddy, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Mode2, EINE, Risk, Revok, Mr. Cartoon, ESPO, Henry Chalfant, Gusmano Cesaretti, Chaz Bojorquez, C.R. Stecyk III, Futura, Retna, Ed Templeton, Swoon, Neck Face, Geoff McFetridge, Aaron Rose, Jeffrey Deitch, Barry McGee, Os Gemeos, Kenny Scharf, Spike Jonze

The Levi's Film Workshop will host a Q&A with director Alex Stapleton and an after-party with a DJ set by artist Shepard Fairey. But remember, leave your fat caps and markers at home! ;)

Chaz Bojorquez @ MOCA, credit: Alex Stapleton

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tags to Riches...Bristol's #graffiti documentary

I spotted this documentary on a tweet from Bristol's Art-El Gallery. It's hard to believe that's Goldie narrating...sounds kinda posh ;)

Tags to Riches, as the title suggests, follows the rise of the previously frowned upon graffiti street art. It delves into commercial art world and the criminality of graffiti through interviews and commentary from all sides of the argument.

"It's quite safe to say we've gone beyond the point of no return for the urban movement...Urban art movement has become the new contemporary pop art." Acoris Andipa

Of particular interest to me was the interesting position that Bristol City Council finds itself in. On the one hand, it maintains its hardline on illegal vandalism, yet it has made exceptions for Banksy due to popular public opinion.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

#UNleashed Magazine: "The Business of Street Art" #ArtInTheStreets

The Business of Art by Stephen Pang
(permission to republish kindly granted by UNleashed Magazine)

Space Girl and Bird, Banksy
Street art has its fans and detractors, but both were united in their amazement in 2007 when Bonhams, the British auction house, sold lot #299, an aerosol stencil painting on steel, for US$576,000. Of course, this was no ordinary street artist. This was Banksy and the painting was ‘Space Girl and Bird,’ commissioned by the UK pop group, Blur. Despite these credentials the estimated guide price was still 20 times less than the final hammer price.

This zealous bidding from an anonymous American buyer marked the beginning of the latest street art feeding frenzy. A few months later, Bonhams followed up this record-breaking event with ‘the world’s first street art auction’ featuring 100 works from both American street artists (Keith Haring, Faile, Shepard Fairey) and the Brits (Banksy, D*Face, Eine). But, how do works of your favorite street artists end up on the auction block and is it inevitable when art is treated like a commodity to be bought and sold for profit?

UNleashed Magazine spoke with people in the know, Lainya Magana, art curator, writer and principal at San Francisco-based art PR agency, A&O, and Nick Walker, one of the first wave of stencil artists benefiting from the interest in street art and whose work featured in the Bonhams auction in 2008.

Left to right: Lainya Magana, A&O PR; Nick Walker mural 2008

The art world as seen by the public is civilized, orderly and slightly intimidating. On the surface it’s made up of art galleries and auction houses that specialize in art. But, that’s the tip of the iceberg. In the background there’s a complex ecosystem of art consultants, advisors and agents. And they are all paid to create value for their clients, either buying or selling art. “The artist/gallery relationship is about money. The problem is that some artists don’t look at themselves as a business or a brand,” said Magana. “There are good galleries and bad ones…artists need to be very selective as they need to think about longevity of career.”

Nick Walker recognizes the importance of the role a gallery plays in forging his career, “I think it’s important to have a good gallery represent you, especially if they are well positioned and respected. It’s also integral that the gallery keeps an artist’s integrity intact and is not short sighted with an artist’s career. It takes a while to find the right gallery. You could go alone, but selling becomes a distraction and it’s important to place paintings with the right collectors.”

"The Day After" series launch @ Opera gallery, New York 2011

And he should know. Today, Nick Walker is a world-class stencil artist, but he started his career in 1983 graffiti ‘bombing’ the streets of Bristol. “In the early days I used to paint graffiti under the name Ego and I had a t-shirt label called Magic Pudding Avenue from the beginning of the 90s. I would’ve liked to have kept it going, but I wanted to concentrate on painting a lot more than chasing up stores for the money on t-shirt sales.”

The turning point for Walker’s career came in February 2008 when his Los Angeles solo show at Carmichael Gallery sold out. Within days, across the Atlantic in London two of Walker’s works fetched more than five Keith Haring paintings combined at Bonhams’ first ‘urban art’ auction.

Speaking on his experience of the art market Walker said, “When a painting comes to market you’re in the hands of others and it’s just having confidence in the auction house and the knowledge that they are branded and have a good clientele.” He continued, “The nightmare scenario is when a piece goes to a Johnny-come-lately auction house who displays art [in a fashion] not that dissimilar to a car boot sale and doesn’t give a shit about an artist’s career.’ He gave an example, “After the Bonhams result another auction house in the UK jumped on the band wagon and consigned 14 pieces of my work for the same auction. Talk about being made to feel vulnerable. The whole thing’s a double-edged sword.”

A&O’s Magana explains the favorable and unfavorable consequences that Walker refers to, “Sotheby's and Bonhams are major businesses that thrive on the secondary art market. It's inevitable. Collectors will eventually tire of work, or need to make a quick buck, and want to sell their work. And why shouldn't they? And why shouldn't someone else have a chance at purchasing that work on the secondary market? But it's not always so innocent. The secondary art market is also where art is made into a commodity, traded and inflated to a gargantuan level. The market is dictated by those collectors who live at the top tier of wealth and power and unfortunately an artist's value is seen through the lens of commodity and commerce.”

Now that Walker is established and has a following he is focused on his brand and taking some more control of his business affairs. “I was never brand orientated…I hadn’t read up enough on other artists. It’s only over the past two years that I’ve been focusing more on this…It’s more important now to focus on branding because I have established a large group of loyal collectors. I need to keep the machine running and coming up with fresh ideas to produce.”

The Morning After series, Nick Walker

Today, to satisfy demand from his collectors he balances working with galleries and selling his art directly, “…I like to keep the sales of original works through the gallery, but I prefer to have control of my print editions. In the past I’ve released a few of ‘The Morning After’ prints through a gallery where they deal with the production side and admin for a percentage [of the profits], but I’m now releasing the rest of the series myself. I’m building a bigger team to work on projects etc. and dealing with the whole production.” Control is a theme that comes up a few times when talking with Walker. This is because, despite success elevating his career, he feels he’s been held back by others in the past. “My Mona Simpson print sold out at [Banksy-affiliated] Pictures on Walls, but that was all they wanted to print of mine. I offered them ‘The Morning After’ series, but Banksy wasn’t interested in promoting these as he said it was too like something he would do. I disagreed, but Black Rat Press was really keen to work with me, so it felt like the perfect time to move on.”

The Morning After series, Nick Walker

And with the Internet there’s no reason why an artist doesn’t take more control of their work. Magana calls this use of technology ‘Gallery 2.0’. She explains, “The 21st Century artist wants to use Facebook, they want to use Twitter and build their own community…do their own sales… it’s totally possible now.” As ex-gallery director for Upper Playground’s Fifty24SF and NOMA Gallery, Magana has some seasoned advice for artists looking to develop their career through galleries, “Weigh every decision against whether it will provide you with longevity of career. No matter how tempting, don't go for quick sales and don't raise your prices too rapidly. Research the galleries you want to show in and create a business strategy with 6 month, 1 year and 5 year goals.

“And remember, as Andy Warhol said, ‘Making money is art and working is art and big business is the best art’.”

Copyright 2011 by Stephen Pang/UNleashed Magazine.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Die Antwoord...#Zef to Def!

You cannot ignore Die Antwoord...Love them or hate them, this is 21st Century hip hop! Globalization at its best!

Check it out

What is Zef? - 5:07
Zef Slang - 4:09
'Evil Boy' Reactions - 4:08

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Britain's (mothers) Got Talent...#bboys on UK national TV!

Hip hop ya don't stop! It's Mother's Day here in the States, so I thought I'd share something all Mums should be proud of...their hip hop crazy sons! :)

A friend on Facebook hipped me to Razy Gogonea, an unemployed Romanian b-boy living in the UK. He auditioned for one of the UK's top talent shows, "Britain's Got Talent." Check out his Matrix body poppin' style! Hopefully he's got a job now!

Razy Gongonea

Here are other popular b-boys who enthralled the UK public with their unique, energetic dance routines.

Tobias Mead

Aiden Davis, the 11-year old from Manchester, UK.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

#Rakim hits the UK...25th anniversary tour

Rakim, the microphone fiend, is in the UK!

And sources tell me he's hitting my hometown of Bristol this Saturday, May 7th, for his "Paid in Full" 25th anniversary concert (even though Eric B won't be on stage.) So if you're within 50 miles you have to reach and support. It's gonna be one hell of a show....Rahzel (of The Roots) and Rakim. Hot!

"In the history of Hip-Hop, few artists have had as great an impact on the development and progression of the art form's lyrical style as Rakim. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the release of 'Paid in Full', consistently regarded as the greatest Hip Hop album of all time - and to celebrate and commemorate, Rakim plays Bristol for the first time ever - on Saturday May 7th."

Tickets are £22.50 (stbf) - available from The O2 Academy Box Office and these fine outlets:

Rakim getting the pat down, Los Angeles 2006
  • Bristol Ticket Shop – Broadmead (0117) 929 9008
  • Wanted Records - St Nicholas Market (0117) 929 0524
  • Cooshti - Park St (0117) 929 0850
  • Prime Cuts – Gloucester Rd (0117) 983 0007
  • Online.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Zephyr's "Wild Style" title sequence #ArtInTheStreets

To fans of hip hop, "Wild Style" is the ultimate embodiment of the culture: MCing, DJing, b-boying, graffiti-spraying!

The title sequence of the film is one of the most memorable and creative of any hip hop film and the animation celluloids are on display at MOCA as part of Charlie Ahearn's room at the "Art in the Streets" exhibition.

The Art of the Title Sequence website does does what it says ;) And it brings us a great interview with the Wild Style title sequence creator, graffiti legend Zephyr (aka Zroc in the film.)

Excerpt of the interview. Read the whole shabang here.
Art of the Title: Were you involved with animation previously?
Zephyr: No. The “Wild Style” animation project was my introduction, although I used to make flip books.

ATS: How did you develop and mix the various artistic styles (the “Wild Style” morphing, “Rap,” "Break,” “Pop”)?
Z: Charlie Ahearn was a great director. He had very specific ideas about everything in the film, and was closely involved in developing the aesthetic of the art in the opening sequence. The graffiti styles used for the words “Rap”, “Break” and “Pop” were all variations of things I was doing on walls and trains at the time. There is a generic quality to my graffiti, but there is also something very distinct about my graffiti work. Maybe that sounds like a contradiction, but graffiti writers will always recognize my stuff immediately. I would say that the different lettering forms were guided by Charlie, but they are definitely “Zephyr-style”. It’s weird to be talking about this now. It seems like a million years ago…

Original "Wild Style" (amphitheater scene party) flyer 1982

ATS: At what point was the sequence created? The star at the end of the sequence is an interesting example of the iconography of the film.
Z: The live footage already existed, so we modeled the animation to dissolve smoothly into the live footage.

ATS: How did you mold the visuals to the music?
Z: Joey Ahlbum created a beat chart according to the soundtrack, and we worked from that.

ATS: How were you able to represent the styles of your peers and friends so well?
Z: I assume you’re referring to the train rolling by. That was easy. Copying other writers’ stuff comes pretty naturally to me, although writers will always execute their own signatures better than someone else will, of course. The train was cardboard, and it rolls by very quickly. If you saw it “frozen” you would see that I probably didn’t really do them justice. I think I did a “Bus” piece that was just plain lousy.

ATS: How did the idea of animating the graffiti come about? Are there other examples of this from this era?
Z: Charlie Ahearn had a vision. He wanted to bring “black book” drawings to life. He urged authenticity and rawness. He didn’t want it polished up. And no, this had never been done before.

ATS: What was it like collaborating with director Charlie Ahearn?
Z: It was fantastic. And I will forever be grateful to Charlie. I was a 19 year-old degenerate when Charlie approached me to work on the art for the movie. His faith in me helped me take myself a lot more seriously, as an artist and a person. I will always remember him as one of the people, early on, who recognized that I wanted to be accepted as an artist and not remain a perpetually stoned graffiti writer. Although being a perpetually stoned graffiti writer was definitely fun for a while!

ATS: How did this movie effect your life and graffiti writing career?
Z: It felt good to be working somewhere without barbed wire and cops. But I kept writing graffiti. Charlie Ahearn even came to the train yard with me twice.

ATS: How have you dealt with personal vs. commercial work, especially considering the roots and history of the medium?
Z: In the 1980’s I did a lot of commercial work. Now I refuse 99% of the offers I get, particularly the corporate ones. Graffiti has become so commercially co-opted it’s sickening. If making it that way is partly my doing, I'm embarrassed. That’s not the legacy I wanted.

ATS: What fueled the youth to bridge graffiti with the other dominant youth cultures of MCing, turntabalism and breaking? Why was the form primarily driven by the youth?
Z: Answering that properly would require about six pages. If you ever come to one of my college lectures, you may hear me discuss that subject since college kids get boners when you mention “hip-hop”. But let’s just say that the “organic/south bronx” hip-hop “elements” theory is a good story, kind of like Santa Claus.

Graffiti existed for a decade before “hip-hop” as we know it emerged. This is not the first case of art forms sweeping up and creating associations with other, pre-existing art forms. Graffiti was “anointed” the visual counterpart for rapping, breaking, etc. Most people simply accept that association, but many do not. Some graffiti artists (Blade and Pink, for example) reject the idea that graffiti is part of the hip-hop movement.

Portia and Blade, MOCA 2011

ATS: Did the old concept of graffiti-as-vandalism die? How is the perception different today for the people and those in the employ of the people?
Z: If a real outlaw gets a paid gig, then you have an authentic thing, but the silverware will get stolen. If someone who can draw cute graffiti on paper (or via computer) gets the gig, you have a happy art director.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Happy birthday Keith (#Haring)

Today is Keith Haring's birthday. The Keith Haring Foundation sent me an invite to save 10% by going shopping :)

Little tidbit, Haring set up his foundation after he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to promote awareness of the disease and create programs for kids.

Art in the Streets When I was interviewing Futura for UNleashed Magazine special on MOCA's major street art exhibition he told me how Keith Haring put his artwork into his Foundation as gifts for the kids of his New York City artist friends! This never made it into the final article, but you can read the rest of the interview here.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Back in 2008 adidas paid homage to Double Goose Country #bboy

A trip back to 2008...I had to write about these long past sneakers from adidas. No sign of them on eBay! :(

I'm not big on some of the mash-ups created by collabs fever, but this adidas x Double Goose mash-up had to be shared. I don't care if summer is approaching...a leather goose down jacket is dope. So, by association adidas sneakers made in a goose jacket's image are dope too!

Check out the buff leather that styled on the Double Goose V-bomber style?

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Sunday, May 01, 2011

Grandmaster Flash in session...on BBC Radio 1

Last weekend the legendary Grandmaster Flash was in the BBC Radio 1 studios in London talking to Rob Da Bank. And he flashed F-I-V-E mixes!! that capture his favorite music over past four decades for the UK fans to rock (and study!)

Rob Da Bank sums it up: "From back in the day to present day; old skool hip hop all the way through to dubstep!" You can see the tracklisting below for all 5 mixes. Word!

Grandmaster Flash, adidas party @ Winter Music Conference 2002

If you don't know the history of hip hop (rap) then listen up. Flash takes you back to the beginnings of his own fascination with his Dad's record collection, how he innovated with the turntable and multi-channel mixer, and his own inspirations in the days of MCing before the term rap was coined! Yes, that's old skool!

Each of the five mixes showcases a musical period or genre. Find out why the Flash describes the UK's dubstep as "Transformers on steroids!"

Grandmaster Flash Mix 1 "I'm still in search of the perfect beat...let's go back to the breakbeat days"

  • The O Jays — You Got To Give The People - Philadelphia International
  • Falco — Rock Me Amadeus - A&M Records
  • Ac/Dc — Back in Black - Columbia
  • Billy Squier — Hear That Sound - Capitol
  • Bob James — Take Me To The Mardi Gras - Columbia
  • James Brown — Funky Drummer - King 

Grandmaster Flash Mix 2 "People of all colors...all jammin' in one room...the culture grows"

  • Jackson 5 - I Want You Back (omitted from original listing)
  • Zapp - More Bounce to the Ounce (omitted from original listing)
  • Nu Shooz — I Can't Wait - Atlantic
  • Tom Tom Club — Genius of Love - Sire
  • Queen — Another One Bites The Dust - EMI
  • Chic — Good Times - Atlantic
  • David Bowie — Let’s Dance - virgin

Grandmaster Flash Mix 3 "Although hip hop was a East Coast thing...the West Coast made a statement"

  • dead prez — Hip Hop - Loud
  • Luniz — I Got 5 On It - Noo Trybe
  • 2Pac — Kepp Your Heads Up - Interscope
  • Coolio — Gangsta Paradise - Tommy Boy
  • Jay-Z — Whats My Name - Roc-A-Fella
  • Dr. Dre — Forget About Dre - Interscope
  • Digable Planets — Rebirth of Slick (Like Dat) - Elektra Records
  • Ol' Dirty Bastard — Shimmy Shimmy Ya - Elektra
  • KRS-One — Sound of The Police - Conscious
  • The Notorious B.I.G. — Juicy - Bad Boy Entertainment
  • Arrested Development — Everyday People - Chrysalis
  • LL Cool J — Rock The Bells - Def Jam
  • Cypress Hill — Insane In The Brain - Ruffhouse Records
  • Naughty by Nature — Hip Hop Hooray - Big Life
  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five — The Message - Sugar Hill Records
  • The Sugarhill Gang — Rappers delight - Sugar Hill Records
  • Snap! — The Power - Logic Records

Grandmaster Flash Mix 4 "When Dancehall came into New York you had to incorporate it into your set"

  • Junior Reid — One Blood - Big Life
  • Beenie Man — Ole Dawg Like Wi - Island Jamaica
  • Beenie Man — Who Am I - Island Jamaica
  • Elephant Man — Nuh Linga - Bad Boy
  • Beenie Man — Memories - Island Jamaica
  • Mavado — So Special - VP Records
  • Tanto Metro & Devonte — Everyone Falls In Love - Relentless Records
  • Beenie Man — World Dance - Island Jamaica
  • Spragga Benz — We Nuh Like - VP Records

Grandmaster Flash Mix 5 "We took the sound of hip hop and flipped it...we call it dubstep"

  • Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses — Sweet Child of Mine (Dubstep remix) - Geffen
  • Dizzee Rascal — Bonkers (Doorly Dubstep Remix) - Dirtee Stank Recordings
  • Doctor P — Sweetshop - Circus Recordings
  • TC — Where’s My Money (Caspa Mix) - White
  • Caspa — Back For The First Time - Sub Soldiers
  • Lupe Fiasco — Kick Push (Heist DnB Mix) - Atlantic
  • Unknown Artist — Unknown Track - White
  • Unknown Artist — Unknown Track - White
  • Ini Kamoze — Out In The Streets They Call It Murder (Stantons Mix) - Columbia
  • Nerd — Everyone Nose - Dn B Mix
  • Mark Ronson and The Business Intl — Bang Bang Bang (Mix) - Sony
  • Unknown Artist — Unknown Track - White
  • Unknown Artist — Unknown Track - White
  • Unknown Artist — Unknown Track - White

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