The legendary street artist on Occupy Wall Street, censorship and taking over his very first billboard
If you haven't heard of Poster Boy yet, where have you been? And if you have, you are in for a treat, as we travel to Brooklyn to catch-up with the collective whose NY subway poster mash-ups have set the broadsheets, tabloids, blogosphere, and flickrazzi alight with their every move, causing the world's biggest and most influential gallery owners to knock their door down for a meeting.
Let's just say we've been busy planning and executing projects with Occupy folks since day one. Some of the work was made for the Arab uprising which predates the Occupy movement
Dazed Digital: Do you remember the first subway poster you cut-up? What went through your mind at the time?
Poster Boy: Not sure I remember the very first poster, but I do remember being bored as hell waiting for the train. It's been a kind of therapy since then.
DD: How soon after this did you become 'Poster Boy' and did you come-up with the moniker?
Poster Boy: The name came immediately. A friend pinned it on me after seeing flicks of the early work.
DD: What do you stand for, and what message do you hope people take away when they see your mash-ups?
Poster Boy: It's a waste of time hoping people will think one way or another about your work. I'm content with any reaction, anything to snap people out of zombie mode.
DD: The Poster Boy movement has grown and developed over the years - do you have any defining moments you can share?
Poster Boy: I'd say there are about three defining moments. First would be the arrest of Poster Boy members. Courtroom drama always brings tons of media attention. Then there was the museum ad takeover, in which we subverted the MOMA's most expensive ad campaign. And lastly, the recent censorship of a solo show in Connecticut. There was a media storm that followed the censorship, which eventually led to its reopening at a different venue. I'd say about 500 to 600 people attended the opening. A few weeks later, in the same space, a packed audience attended a panel discussion regarding art and advertising. The argument that, "street art lacks relevance in a gallery setting", failed to apply that time.
DD: Do you have a favourite piece that you are particularly proud of because of its execution or the effect that it has had?
Poster Boy: I'd say the takeover of our first giant street billboard. It was a cold, dark, and miserable night. Yet we got the 50ft monster down. The next night a writer came and tagged the blank space. The collaboration was unwarranted, but awesome nonetheless. The takeover was one of our rawest moments. Not knowing what the fuck your doing, yet knowing you had to do it.
DD: Can you tell me about your involvement in the Occupy NYC movement, and what artists can do to get more involved?
Poster Boy: Let's just say we've been busy planning and executing projects with Occupy folks since day one. Some of the work was made for the Arab uprising which predates the Occupy movement. Getting involved differs from place to place. The best way to start is to visit your local Occupy group online and in person. Then become educated on the issues so you can make relevant work.
DD: I know Poster Boy was in the UK last year to launch the book, can you tell me about this and the Poster Boy / Robbo collaborations you put-up around the city?
Poster Boy: Yeah we came through for a little book launch, nothing too big. We expected street artists to come and show support, but I didn't even meet one during my stay. Instead, Robbo & company showed love. I spent the last nights in London bombing with team Robbo, great times, and for those who don't know Robbo has been in a coma for some time now. I wish him a speedy recovery and my regards goes out to all his friends and family.
DD: You currently have a piece in a group show at the Pandemic Gallery in Brooklyn, and I know you have something special coming-up in Germany, can you give us any details on this?
Poster Boy: Yeah the Pandemic piece isn't the usual collage. The piece, "Self Snitch", is a sculpture made of "found" materials. Using some paint, plastic, and a security camera I managed to create a custom Facebook logo in 3D. The piece is meant to point out the sacrifice of privacy people make when using Facebook.
The offer to show in Germany came from an art contest we entered and won. There were 120 artists from all over the world, yet only one gets a solo show and a published book. Being that we don't profit off the Poster Boy work, we're very grateful for any opportunity to show and travel.
DD: I also know that fans might soon be able to get involved with one of your projects through Kickstarter, is there anything that you can say on this?
Poster Boy: Can't really say too much about Kickstarter yet. All I can say is that this project will be nothing short of revolutionary, and it'll give supporters a chance to show their love for Poster Boy.
Text by Helen Soteriou