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The artists hit the ground running at the right time, coming to the fore just as public perception started to change. However, although Graffiti Life, which is based in trendy east London, is thriving, money can still be seen as a dirty word on the street art scene.

Purists argue those who make cash from spraying are selling out. But B says he has “paid his dues“ by working illegally when he was younger, and has moved on – and is now approached by huge companies, wanting Graffiti Life to boost their brands with a touch of street art cool.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather do what I love everyday than ’keeping it real’, working a job I hate and only painting at the weekend.“

And B believes his team have earned it. “People have been making money from graffiti since it was first popularised in the late Seventies. But people who get into street art just to get paid don’t make good work,“ he says. “They will copy what’s made money before and their work won’t be credible or original.“

Brazier agrees: “You can spot it a mile away, pseudo-political messages, Banksy rip offs, all following the same formula. If you’ve never actually made work in the streets and you use that title to sell paintings, then you’re a fraud!“

Although B admits to missing the adrenaline rush of painting illegally, he says he now gets his kicks from pushing the artform.
Brazier adds: “One day we could be painting a cartoon character in a kid’s bedroom, the next, we’re painting a huge billboard for a big brand.

Highlights include working for companies such as Nike and Disney. We’ve also painted live at Glastonbury and made a few TV appearances.

“Our favourite projects are where we’re encouraged to just be creative and aren’t tied down to a specific a brief.“
And it’s not just homegrown talent which is thriving in London – the shift is being felt worldwide, with the capital the go-to for international artists.

US guerilla street artist Shepard Fairey has recently been in town painting a 42-metre-high stencil promoting free speech for the newly opened London Pleasure Gardens.

The 42-year-old, who was behind the Barack Obama ’Hope’ poster, called the capital a “great“ city for street art, because it’s so densely populated. While Numskull, from Sydney, is one of 39 international artists displaying his art as part of Bethnal Green-based High Roller Society’s Good Times Roll exhibition.

But, as our TNT cover shoot displays, despite the popularity of street art, there are some stragglers from a bygone era who see it as an eyesore, as vandalism which shouldn’t be celebrated. And, as well as that opposition, it’s also hard work.


Spray it with love: meet the Graffiti Life artists making London colourful
Digital Mag

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