After yesterday's mild rant about the revival of 35mm film, here's a much more interesting story about the relationship between social media and urban art. (Disclosure, my Instagram feed is full of murals signed with hashtags and account handles).
20 years ago, a street artist was considered an outlaw. At best an underappreciated creative, at worst a vandal with a spray can and a paint brush.
Today, this is a business with production values in the tens of thousands of dollars - much more if you are sponsored by Adidas, Nike or New Balance.
In short, the story of how digital marketing appropriate street art is the story of how hipster culture took over the urban world, and the gentrification of our 21st century cities. Have a read.
Like other novelties of the post-hipster age, the source of the value is not just the finished work, but also the tedious and rarefied conditions of its production. The spectacle of painters hanging from a wall is as much Colossal’s product as the murals themselves. Colossal offers time-lapse footage and photos for clients to share on social channels. In a way this makes wall dogs part of a live show. While studio painters can step back and check their work, wall dogs paint close up at a large scale. A few wrong strokes can quickly send a mural off into the realm of the uncanny valley. “Kendrick Lamar’s face isn’t like anybody else’s face, but it’s similar,” said Mr. Coatney, painting high above Canal Street. “You start with the big similarities, and then you make it him.”