Archives for posts with tag: graffiti

Cross-posted from the Pop-Up City

Last year the Pop-Up City met We Heart’s James Davidson in Helsinki during the city’s fantastic series of World Design Capital events. A few weeks ago he sent his recently published book Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity. Looking back on the celebration of UK culture during London’s 2012 Olympic games, the book highlights the best of British creativity, exploring the country’s cutting edge design, and the significance of being in the UK to the creative process.

We Heart is a UK-based online magazine that features content on lifestyle and design, updated daily. It is an influential and internationally read source for the latest in all things global design: restaurants, travel, architecture, fashion, photography, technology and more. For their first publication, We Heart decided to focus on design matters closest to home.

Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity

Designed by SB StudioCreate GB is extensive and wide ranging in its coverage of British art and design. Everything is included, as long as it’s exciting, and as long as it’s from the UK. The book is divided into two parts: a glossy catalogue of introductions to a number of UK-based creative firms, artists and designers, accompanied by visually stunning photographs and samples of their work.

The next section has a more in-depth Q&A section, featuring interviews with each firm/artist highlighted, exploring their practice, future projects, personal questions (“what makes you smile?”) and some quirkier inquiries such as “If we could replace the Ruler on the bank notes with one iconic British design, what would you choose?” — answers range from a “a bulldog” (Cat Patterson, fashion designer), “Alfred Hitchcock” (Dominic Davies, photographer) to “a fish and chips supper” (Lick Me I’m Delicious, pop-up ice cream makers).

Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity

The rest of the questions focus on the importance of the UK to the artists’ and designers’ creative practice. Essentially, Create GB is an exploration into an important concern in this age of globalization, and a topic The Pop-Up City often highlights: does place matter? Questions such as “Do you think location effects creativity?” and “Is Britain’s creative industry too London-centric?” emphasize how British culture effects art practice, and the importance of being in London and the UK to creativity.

Among the incredible number of creatives in the fields of visual arts, fashion & graphic design, Create GB highlights a few urban design and art practices that will interest readers of The Pop-Up City.

Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity

Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity

Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity

An interesting sample of UK architecture and urban design is Studio Weave, a London-based firm that combines contemporary style with concepts of sustainability and community-driven design. Their award winning designs are authentic and specific to their local contexts: location matters to Studio Weave. We especially like their Longest Bench installation in Little Hampton –  a playful urban design intervention that is built from reclaimed wood. Its modular design makes it easy to extend – and it can already seat 300 people!

Another artist we really like is Fraser Gray. Hir large scale murals combine photo realism with surrealist narrative, and are a graceful convergence of fine art and graffiti. Ze cites the political nature of hir work, and the general politicization of the art world as an inevitable reaction to the global economic crisis. Ze holds firmly that location effects creativity. Location provides significance and familiarity, and access to social networks that provide opportunity for collaboration. Ze also situates hir work within of a very British tradition of enormous murals of working life in Scottish cities: place matters to Fraser Gray!

Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British CreativityCreate GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity

With questions about possible collaborations with other UK artists, and the situation of work within quintessential British traditions, Create GB is a rallying cry for the significance of place and local-networks to creativity. Though it focuses on Britain, the book offers a good model to national creative industries worldwide. It encourages connections, place-based inspiration, and collaboration as essential to a thriving and dynamic creative industry.

Reading the interviews, the reader understands that the defiant answer to the question of the importance of location within a globalized world is that place indeed matters. Globalization has not lead to homogeneity, but rather a nuanced and energized British culture defined by its roots in tradition, and contemporary multicultural outlook, “carefully balanced on the edge of tradition and aggression” according to Fraser Gray. Most importantly, place offers a unique social network embedded within a locationally specific history of art and design — the perfect situation for creativity.

Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity

In conclusion Create GB is a great book if you want an in depth insight into the UK’s art and design scene. The book’s extensive catalogue of British artists and designers offers a fantastic introduction to a variety of UK-based creative practices, while the Q&A is light, humorous and insightful. This insight into British creativity and lessons of the significance of location to creativity makes Create GB a worthwhile read. We hope that there will be a Volume 2 in the near future!

Create GB Volume 1: Celebrating Great British Creativity
Published by We Heart
Written by James Davidson and Alicja McCarthy
Edited by Dave Waddell
Designed by SB Studio
196 pages, 39 artists and designers featured
Language: English
GBP 15.00

Several months ago, your Urban Geographer culture jammed his way through the streets and bathroom-stalls of Tall-ronto, QaRt coding  his and all his friends’ faces wherever and anywhere.

Some thoughts since then:

QR codes are on the wane — I think. Already there is technology that allows one to scan an image, any image, and that is enough to link online, to a website. We’re there already, folks — one step closer to the Internet-Reality, a total World-Wide-Web-geography, heading toward a future where the city blends into the internet, without anyone even realizin’… yet the QR code persists as an icon of these transitional days. Perhaps we aren’t ready to accept that anything, everything? might somehow trigger the internet. Another case of cultural inertia. Perhaps those black and white pixels are a source of comfort in this time of great transformation — they keep it real, somehow, contained — it’s okay, because only the old fashioned pixelated thing will lead us to the internet — the internet is kept at bay, right?

Another thought:

QR codes seem to be incredibly popular in Toronto, but not in other cities. Case in point: Halifax. Another one? NYC including Brooklyn.

Well, those are the only cities I’ve been to since my 2012 Toronto-times.

But it does indeed seem odd that not even New York would have QR-fever. It looks like we’ve got e a place-specific technology fetish, and readers, I’m not at all surprised with where it’s located. What with Toronto being the city of Now — the economic frontier of the Western World — it’s no longer  that old 20th century maxim, “I’m headin’ West baby” only the fresh new “I’m goin’ West but no further than Tall-ronto” kind of economy frontier. It only makes sense that such a current technology, you know, the one that links physical reality with the internet could be squarely found in the gridded streets of T-o-r-o-n-t-o.


The internet has leaked several QaRt Code spottings my way. They’ve come my way by way of my formal online social networks which leads me to the conclusion that many people have snapped photos of  (or simply talked about) those devilish smiling pixelated faces and shared them with their friends. 

Here are some of the spottin’s I’ve spotted:

From facebook:

And another, from facebook:

And here’s one… from Twitter !

And one more… from Facebook
(Leading photo is from my brother’s facebook…)