Today begins our 10th Anniversary of the Wooster Collective website. As we kick off the new year, we've been reflecting back on our lives and all that we've experienced in the last decade. So as we embark on 2013, we asked a group of artists who we showcased in the beginnings of the website the following question:
What's the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you had wished someone had told you 10 years ago?
Our first response comes from Adam Neate...
"Technology is merely a tool to be used when needed and not to be enslaved by.
For myself the early part of the decade is a cloudy memory now. Since 2000 I had been leaving work on the streets of London averaging 1000 works a year.
To begin with I was leaving them without documenting them in anyway, just as a form of pure personal expression. After a while I decided to photograph them in situ. This was more to record and remember what styles I had experimented with. At the time I was photographing the work using a 35mm SLR (you know film)
then at the end of each week I would take the used camera film to the developers to be processed and pick up the results on the following monday. It became quite a weird ritual and the guys in the shop got to know me for it.
Then around this time a friend of mine who I worked with showed me a website he had made for an artist friend of his. It even had a "back end" where you were able to "upload" your images to show the world wide web!
All I had to do was scan my photographs into photoshop, change their size and file format and "upload" them!
It was soon after that I found a online website called www.ekosystem.org it was/is a great emerging website showcasing a mixture of sticker art and Graff from around europe, a kind of early online community sharing work.
Around this time I received an email from a "woostercollective" at the time I was sharing a flat in Whitechapel, London with 2 skaters from Wooster (a town in the UK)
So I assumed it was them playing a joke. On further inspection I found it was from Wooster NY!
Street art was beginning to be shared globally!
The main catalyst for the street art movement was the internet.
A kid from Australia can paint a wall and share it with the world before the paint has dried.
The Internet doesn't care if you have been to a fancy art school.
The Internet is able to showcase everything to everyone.
Kind of like a visual democracy for all, i.e www.fotolog.net
everyone could show and share.
As more and more people started creating and expressing themselves, there was almost the need to "feed the beast"
A 70's Graff writer was "up" for as long the train physically ran (I Know it's a cheesy metaphor)
A 2000's street artist was only as good as his or her last image remaining "cyber-up" (an even more cheesy term)
As the need for websites to create more "content" for a street artist to "exist" they had to do something more often to keep up.
As art movements go I think 2000's street art was one of the most energetic and exciting times.
I've given you some images from the 2nd Finder's Keepers events that took place in London around 10 years ago.
At the time the artist PMH contacted me to invite me to do a similar concept of giving work away in the streets like I had been doing, but as a group event in one place at a given time. Sponsors, galleries and brands were no where in sight. The purest buzz was created. The time, the place and the people coming together.
Looking at these images seems like a life time ago.
As the years passed I left thousands of paintings in the streets in different styles and sizes. It even encouraged me to travel to other countries, just to leave work somewhere new, experience other cultures and meet other artists etc.. I was given opportunities to work with amazing creative people. It taught me allot about myself, to experiment with styles and ideas, not to worry what people thought of my work. To paint purely for self expression.
Fellow street artists were beginning to document their work in books.
This was an interesting dilemma for me. For something so transient like street art to exist in a transient media like the web was one thing,
but to put it into a book it felt like a solid statement. Foundations were being established in the "real world".
From the beginning my street work had been a personal journey of learning and evolution for me. Eventually I started asking myself the same question:
How long is a piece of string? How many more paintings shall i leave on the street?
Around 2006 I was invited off the streets to show work in a gallery. after years of shying away from this my mind wanted a change of head, to think differently, to create something new. I thought.. did no harm for Basquiat!
and the the personal paradox began... am I still a street artist if I show work inside a gallery at the same time as working on the streets?
For me personally the answer is no. Or more importantly the question began to change to... well what am I now then?
I realised I was merely an artist that was part of a movement with in a period of time that took place.
To move on I had to completely let go from where I had come from, to start a fresh.
I deleted all my street work.
Only a few random scatterings of images can be found now deep within other people's defunct websites,
that is until they themselves empty servers and close domain's etc..
The temporary nature of my work in reality is being effectively mimicked within cyber space as it slowly disappears over time.
But like all things I needed that "one last hit" ...SO in December of 2008 I realised a long time goal to go "all city" in one night.
A project called the London show I set out with teams of people and left 1000 individual prints on cardboard around all 32 boroughs of London.
From what started humbly at the beginning of the decade, where I left free-art paintings on day by day scale, for it to finally evolve into becoming the first mass public interactive event-art happening over an entire city. Utilizing the tools of TV, Radio, web, and mobile media all in one go, was more more than I could have hoped for ending a chapter with. (be it a chapter where the pages have been erased)
So..the next decade, the next chapter, the next way of thinking, the next technology.. the insta-generation..
At the turn of the last century technology gave us the photograph. Why would an artist compete with capturing such perfect realism?
A side step was taken around photography to paint what the camera could not capture. e.g Cubism etc..
In 2013 how does an artist compete to be heard and seen in an endless sea of continuous, relentless mobile capturing?
An artist with 500k people following them is surely something.
An artist with 500k people following them and something important to say.. could possibly change the way entire world thinks.
peace and love and have a great 2013
p.s i'm now on instagram @ adam_neate
... Adam Neate