A Glimpse of French Graffiti Art in LA


As oftentimes happens, I leave my camera at home right when I find something good.

This particular time, that special something was a piece from French graffiti artist TILT. He stands as a good example of the thriving street art scene in France which is just as happening as the one here in LA.

TILT employs a really cool technique in which he uses bubble letters – the stylizing of letters seen in a lot of old-school graffiti writing in New York, Los Angeles and other parts of the world – to create different shapes. Sometimes you can read them so they mean something, sometimes they don’t. They might shape something familiar, like this star, but it takes more work to decipher the letter or words hidden within. Can you spot ‘Los Angeles’ spelled out in this one?

At his show in Fabien Castanier in Studio City last year, he took the theme of American Food and gave it his own twist. “All You Can Eat” transformed the gallery into a visual feast with giant hot dogs and hamburgers made up of the bubbly letters. It was a great merging between gallery and street art not only because of the giant pieces that still held an urban, edgy feel but because of the videos TILT included. In those, you could see a white wall transformed into all-black by TILT’s spray can gracefully forming a number a number of shapes or a black wall turned into all white through the same process. It was a simple but strong statement about the power of one spray can paint color to transform an entire wall.

When I bumped into this piece in LA, it reminded me of the ongoing magnitude of street art. TILT’s site names a long list of places where the artist traveled to explore and “leave his mark.” The artist left the States after his show closed but thankfully he left this token behind for Angelenos – a reminder that street art really does use the world as its canvas.

Audio Canvas 3 @ Crewest Gallery

Despite the fact that a lot of graffiti and street art is made with mostly the same medium, the style out there are probably more varied than any artist’s given spray paint can palette.

Crewest Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles is yet another gallery showcasing some memorable, exciting pieces from street and graffiti artists. One of their current shows called “Audio Canvas 3” revolved around live music and art. The opening night featured DJs spinning while artists did their stuff.

When you first venture forth into the exhibition, the first thing you’ll probably see is this piece…

The piece is by artists SER @ USE. It’s quite large and is mixed media – the smaller LA square are actually smaller individual pieces of paper. I especially like how a lot of the pieces liked to show off the fluidity of the spray paint, letting it drip in certain places for more effect.

In fact a lot of the pieces were about going beyond just the canvas, something street and graffiti art is definitely good at.

Take this untitled piece by Vyal, for instance. It’s on a canvas but the piece comes to life and extends onto the walls next to the canvas. So basically, it’s so artistically complex that it can’t simply be confined onto a canvas’ surface.

I’m not sure if those are meant to be bubbles or just bubble-like figures but check out those details! Vyal obviously knows where to put shadows and whites to create a realistic look.

The best part of the show was how different the styles of all the artists were. The owner of Crewest, Man One, actually had a piece in the show called “Reaching Up.”

I asked him to tell me about his piece and he basically explained that the figure is part of a series where he paints graffiti spirits. The background of the piece is made up of tags, which represent the negativity of the city. Basically, the spirit is rising out of this negativity.

The figure is reaching (thus the title!) for the cap of a spray paint can; Man One explained that he did this in order to say that graffiti art can be an escape from the negativity of the city.

Neutra’s work was also visually interesting though more playful.

This piece is interesting because it also plays with the way that canvases are set up. Some of them are on canvases even though the majority of the piece is painted directly on the wall. In “Ice Cream,” Neutra sets it up so that there is a pedestal on the wall and a canvas mounted on top in a clever mesh between the wall and the canvas.

The way in which the colors were blended in this piece was quite captivating, even when Neutra chose to use common, everyday subjects.

Another interesting part of the exhibit were the works of Black Light Kings, a duo made up of street artists Axa and Pops. Basically, a black light is shone on the piece at night for a cool viewing experience. But the piece are visually captivating even during the day.

There were also works from artists AISE Born and Robert Vargas, who also had their own distinct styles. AISE’s work used a dark background and contrasted it with brighter colors.

Vargas’ work on the other hand, used lighter colors. I liked the way that he created shadows and let the lines of his work show.

Overall, the show was quite diverse and exemplifies the versatility of street and graffiti art. It’s also a sure sign that street/graffiti will only keep developing. “Audio Canvas 3” is up until Jan. 29 so check it out if you can! Sound off in the comments about the artists, street art, galleries and anything and everything in between!

Parking Lot Piece

Part of creating good street art is finding a good location. Like the saying goes, right? Though that has to do with something completely different.

The point is, you have to stay hidden (if the art is illegal) and put it somewhere mysterious enough where it’s cool but visible enough where everyone can actually SEE how cool it is.

This piece was in a small parking lot near a store on a random street. So a pretty good location.

It’s interesting to see how the colors chosen for the tag, the name of the graffiti artist which I’m assuming this is, make it look almost as if it could’ve been with the giant pencil at the bottom. That being said, there are some awesome little details when you look closer. The colors are used to make the letters look pretty three-dimensional and you can even see a sparkling star-like something shining at the bottom of the C.

The stars actually show up in a few spots, and it’s interesting to see how the artist even included a wooden post and some grass. It’s pretty humorous considering you see this in a concrete parking lot.

Like I said, it’s all about location! Where these artists choose to put their work up is just as important as what they choose to put. When graffiti artists first started putting their work on surfaces like the bridges over freeways, they called these difficult-to-reach spots ‘heavens.’ But graffiti and street art are everywhere, really. It’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open.


An Alley Way is An Art Treasure Trove

The first thing that pops into most people’s head when they think about dark alleways in mystery, crime and just overall danger.

But the long walls on alleyways make it ideal for graffiti and street artists to put up some large, detailed work. And it’s obviously a conveniently hidden place.

Walking to the car late at night in Hollywood I spotted a piece of graffiti/street art (I saw that because this piece is a bit of a hybrid) and then turned the corner to find even more work. The first piece was huge and quite lifelike.

Of course the name of the artist is always important and this particular piece was apparently a collaboration between many artists, including the famous Hex.

The photos aren’t the best because it was so dark but this actually made it more magical… I could tell there was more art around the corner and when I took a picture, the flash revealed some awesome stuff.

I know for sure I didn’t catch everything but, again, alleyways can be scary places sometimes.

I liked the colors of this one and how much it popped. It just seems very happy (especially that e… it looks like it’s smiling!)

And here are more signatures!

Props to these artists for making this alleyway a little more interesting. Though perhaps not less scary.

Liquor Store Mascot

Obviously not every single person out there is too happy when they see a fresh graffiti piece on the wall of their new store or liquor store.

But as the history of graffiti art has shown, sometimes storekeepers actually volunteer to have the art on the side of their store. Some graffiti artists got their start walking into store and volunteering to do some sort of piece for the store owner on one of their walls. That’s how art eventually got on low-riders — graffiti artists started putting up pieces on the places where these lowriders were getting fixed up and eventually someone’s sweet rider got even sweeter.

Whether or not the store owner agreed to it, the best place to find big graffiti pieces are on the sides of stores and liquor stores. I found this piece on the side of a liquor store in South L.A.

I thought it was interesting because it’s a hybrid between just regular tagging (putting up one’s name) and also creating a cartoon (the little guy in the middle).

So whether the store likes it or not it now has a graffiti artist’s name up…

…. which looks like Rae to me (I couldn’t decipher the second name).

Along with this cute little mascot.

Who knew animals in the wild liked to play soccer?

The color were also fascinating and if you looked up close, you could see flames near the top of the letters.

Who knows how long the piece will actually last until fresh paint rollers come along but for now it’s exposed to all the thousands of people driving by.