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Studio Visit – Earth Crusher

A few weeks ago, our team met with Earth Crusher to explore his creative space, uncover his inspirations, and learn more about the origins of the creator of the retro-tyrannical robot set on destroying the modern world.

The artist behind this evil character scrupulously works on illustrating the menaces of our capitalist society: over-exploitation of our natural resources, deforestation, modern slavery, misogyny, egocentrism of political and economic leaders, etc. Inspired by the “1%” who rule the world, his humanoids with a television-monitor head, remind us of Big Brother and the constant monitoring depicted in the novel 1984 by George Orwell.

Marc-Andre, Dre, or Earth Crusher (depending on the occasion) is a multifaceted artist utilizing multiple mediums to express his dystopian vision of the World. Buildings, billboards, canvases, toys, masks and costumes, Earth Crusher comes to life in many different forms that allow him to continue his propaganda for profit-seeking without limits or values.

When did you first start painting?

I was always creating artworks as a kid and my parents were pretty supportive. During high school, I got hooked on the graffiti scene, hanging out with friends and painting walls, rooftops or highways. After a while, I was lucky enough to meet and paint with some amazing artists that I’ve admired when I was younger, like Zek or Scan. Now, working at A’shop has allowed me to work with more and more amazing artists, like Fluke & Dodo Ose. Fun fact: I was also playing the drums in a band, Side C, and I used to play gigs where Monk-e often hung around.

You’re known for your Earth Crusher character, representing unscrupulous political and financial leaders of today’s world, how did you come up with this name and these recurring characteristics, like its tv-shaped head and its impeccable suit?

During high school, when I was getting into graffiti, I was making fun of the system by creating this prophet resembling a machine. I took the name from a song called “Earthcrusher” about nuclear bombs, by Mr Lif. I thought it described my character well, him representing people who make these bombs and destroy our World. This character has always been a destructive machine. Overtime, it also evolved as I was learning more about the system.

   

Your artworks have a retro vibe with elements from ads in the 50’s, can you tell us more about the universe surrounding your character?

That’s a really inspiring time for me, right after the war and the invention of the nuclear bomb. At that time, before photography took over, there was an omnipresent imagery of what the perfect life should look like. This time also came with a particular political atmosphere. Then, I started to learn more about this world I was fighting and now I’m trying to understand it more to improve it in my work.

Your work explores social and economic problems like capitalism, modern slavery, deforestation, and mass production. Do you consider yourself an activist?

Activist sounds like a strong word. I’m not protesting in the streets, but I guess putting up artwork is a form of protest in a way. So, my role of activist is still pretty laid back, but painting walls and making public works gives me the opportunity to reach people and in a sense manipulate how they feel about specific subjects. There are millions of people that are going to see my artwork and, like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, when I have a chance to put something up, I really take the time to think about what I want to say and not waste the opportunity. Sometimes, it can be hard doing big public projects: you have to go through a lot of people and try to satisfy them all. But, there are stills ways you can jump through the hoops of what the city or the owner of the building wants and hide your messages in an aesthetic way that won’t bother anyone.

You did a mural for MURAL’s 2015 edition, can you tell us about the social issues you were exploring on this piece?

I named this one “Earth Crusher destroyer of worlds”. It’s inspired from J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who invented the first nuclear bomb. In a press conference, he quoted a Hindu sacred text: “Now, I am become Death, the Destroyer of worlds”. This whole thing brought me to do a dystopian version of the god Vishnu with her 4 arms, but instead holding a big cigar, a cell phone and a credit card, while cutting a tree with scissors.

The last hand has a particularly funny anecdote that comes with it : as I used an actual tree that was already there and incorporated it in the painting, the shop behind the building was selling wood, so it added an ironic touch to say “Here: Wood for Sale!”

From murals to figurines, regular canvases and even costumes, your character seems to take various shapes, can you explain your creative process? Is there a medium you prefer using to bring your character to life?

I like the process of making miniature billboards, where I have to weld and cut metal, merging multiple disciplines for one artwork.

As for the figurines, I usually buy one already made and take off the head, which I replace a head I’ve sculpted myself. I’m always trying new things and learning at the same time.

   

I also really enjoy the whole creative process that comes with producing illustrations. I dig around and try to find the worst, most powerful people in the world, the ones who are real-life Earth Crushers. There is a lot of things that could be changed in a fraction of seconds by a small group of people who have the control, but they don’t… Understanding the human nature and the decision-making processes that end up affecting millions of people, I really find it fascinating.

You often work in collaboration with Five8 or the artists of A’shop. How does the creative process change in these situations?

It’s always a good experience to work on a collaborative project. Even when you’re doing a mural on your own, it’s always nice to have a buddy with you! At A’shop, we brainstorm a lot together. Sometimes, one guy designs the artwork and then we get together and make it happen!

With Five8, we’re like brothers, we’ve been painting together for almost ten years now. It’s been a while! We even paint with the same people, we did a project with OMEN in Toronto recently and he also worked on projects with us at A’shop. We also regularly do some exploring painting in abandoned building.

    
We can find your work in the streets under 2 different aliases: Dre & Earth Crusher. Why did you decide to separate your graffiti from your other work?

Dre is the name I was writing during the days I was really active in the graffiti scene. For me, it was more of a sport: finding spots and writing my name, nice and big! But it’s kind of a tough and risky sport, it’s fun on the surface but there’s not much incentive.

Earth Crusher is a project I started on my own, that came with a character and a universe of its own. So, it was important for me to separate the two.

When I do collaborative murals or a project for someone with A’shop, I just put on my painter hat and sign Dre. Then, I put on my Earth Crusher costume and go exploring new ways to destroy the world!

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Studio Visit – Stikki Peaches

In a first of many studio visits, our team explored the colourful world of Montreal’s very own artist, Stikki Peaches. Entering an artist’s studio is like entering the most intimate spaces of their mind; you’re discovering their inspirations, their sketches, their experimentations, their different ideas slowly taking shape. Entering Stikki Peaches’ studio also meant entering an organised joyful mess: torn magazine pages on the floor, paint and sharpies spread all over, cardboard and decomposed wood panels, as well as dozens of artworks in progress with rock tunes playing on the radio.

This “creative playground”, as he likes to call it, is where Stikki Peaches creates the artworks you can find today in some of the biggest international art fairs and on the façades of numerous cities all over the world or, more recently, in Nike’s NYC headquarters. Every year in Montreal, we’re also delighted with one of his artworks during MURAL Festival, like with his 2016 giant “FUCK HATE” piece or with his paintings at the Galerie LeRoyer’s booth in the MURAL Art Fair, last year.

Photo Credit: Halopigg

The anonymous artist, surrounded with a mysterious aura, has used the slogan “What if Art Ruled the World?” for a long time, encouraging his audience to think about art’s place and power. The lucky ones who discover his artworks are led to stop, think and analyze the messages hidden behind these pictures of pop-culture mythical figures that portray the likes of Elvis Presley, Kate Moss, James Dean, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, or even Mozart.

Find out more about Stikki Peaches’ world through this interview accompanied by pictures of his studio:

   

Could you tell us about your background and when your journey as an artist began?

I fell into the art world at a very young age. I always drew, painted, played with crayons and different materials I could find at home. Then, as I began my studies, I quickly realised that being an artist would be very complicated! My parents, both being creatives working in the fashion industry, there were sketches and fabrics lying around and so, I naturally gravitated towards fashion design to channel my creativity.

When did you decide that it was what you wanted to do ?

In 2008, following some personal issues, I thought a lot about what I really wanted and what my ambitions were, which made me realize that it was an actual dream since my childhood. I understood that I was here today, but who knows what’ll happen tomorrow! So, I quit everything, I took time for myself and pasted my artworks in the streets.

Then, it was really in 2010 that it took on a whole new dimension. I didn’t have any career plans, the idea was simply to go back to what made me happy in life; enter my creative zone and paste my creations outside for the world to see. Some friends started telling me that my artworks were being featured in trending blogs from New York and Los Angeles. It was at this moment that I began to get some recognition.

   

Why did you start pasting your artworks in the streets? Have you ever done graffiti before?

I used to, when I was young, up until the age of 15 or 16. It was a way for me to vent my frustrations and to have fun, but it also brings a lot of problems.

Later, when I was looking for some visibility, it came back naturally. It was the best way to make people see my work. There weren’t many other ways to promote my work. At the time, I wasn’t using Facebook and Instagram wasn’t the powerful tool its become now. Not many people were taking pictures, street art wasn’t really documented then.

Who were some of the artists you liked early on?

I always liked Robert Rauschenberg’s work. His artworks included layers on layers, overlapping and creating a 3D effect. I always liked this complex, yet simple world recreated on a canvas.

In my work, all the layers have a story to tell. For example, the last layer is made of tattoos where I incorporate personal messages and critiques about today’s society, but with a positive and more satirical point of view.

Your work explores pop-culture icons and tattoo, can you tell us more about these and where this inspiration come from?

Fashion, icons and pop-culture were big parts of my childhood. When I create, I get inspired by what struck me as a child, references that I grew up with. Later, I dived into the tattoo culture. I love many different styles from different regions: from the Mexican culture to the Russian prison tattoos, and flash tattoos. I also like the symbolic side of a tattoo and I use it as a tool to tell messages through my artworks.

You are using a lot of different mediums in your artworks, can you explain us your creative process?

I like to work with multiple materials and different textures. I also like to work with everyday materials. For example, the wood panels I use are recycled wood I picked up on the streets. Recently, I’ve started working with tiles from different countries I’ve visited. Often handmade, each tile tells a story about the city or the country it’s from, with symbols and colours that represent the identity of the place. When I break them and incorporate them in my artworks, I reconstruct pieces of walls that crumble and unveil the images in my canvases. This is a style that I’ve been developing for a year now and that I am currently bringing to the next level for my next pieces.

What’s your favorite part?

There are many steps to creating a piece, but I’d say that when I decide the shape the wood panel is going to take on my canvas, that’s when I can really let off steam. I take a hammer and break everything! I hit the piece of wood until it resembles what I have in mind. It’s definitely the part I like the most, it allows me to unwind, Sledgehammer style!

What’s your point of view regarding the illegal pastings you still do in the streets, In parallel to your gallery work?

In 2008, there was nobody in the streets, the graffiti scene was very calm. The streets of Montreal was like a giant playground where I could play. The ones who knew very little about street art and the graffiti scenes were only seeing the illegal aspect. Today, I can paste a piece on a building’s façade and the next day, the owner will send me a message to thank me. Today, the Catch-22 question, illegal vs legal, brings a more blurry answer. The mindsets have changed, people are more open. MURAL Festival certainly has helped in that sense.

Today, you make a living from your art, with your gallery work and the murals you make in festivals all around the world. Will you ever stop spending nights outside pasting artworks in the streets?

Just yesterday, I went out to get some materials and, in the car, I was looking down the streets by the window and I could see so many beautiful walls and alleys. And I thought, “Summer better come quick!”. I have a box in my studio where I keep all my artworks ready to be pasted. When I travel or when the urge comes, I put a few of them in a bag and I go out. It’s something I love doing! I invest the same intensity that I put into my paintings. The only change is the wall with crumbling bricks or a vintage logo that substitute the canvas. For me, it’s just as important as my paintings, if not more… As long as I’ll be able to walk, you’ll have the chance to see my artworks in the streets!

   

Cover Pic: Stikki Peaches with his mask in collaboration with @bespokenov

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Our 10 favorite murals of 2017

1010 – Berlin, Germany (@1010zzz)

 

 

  Xylène for Blink Cincinnati – Ohio, USA (@xylene_projects)

 

 

 Lonac for No Limit Borås – Borås, Sweden (@lonacpot)

 

 

“The Shipwreck of Bienvenu” by Ella & Pitr – La Valla-En Gier, France (@ellapitr)

 

 

 “African Housewife independence” by Okuda – Girona, Spain (@okudart)

 

 

 Kitt Bennett – Melbourne, Australia (@kitt_bennett)

 

 

“The Other” by Gleo for Nu Festival – Sao Paulo, Brazil (@gleo_ceo)

 

 

Felipe Pantone & Anna Tiron – Berlin, Germany (@felipepantone & @AnnaTIron)

 

 

TwoSeven for Nu Art Festival – Oslo, Norway (@7wo)

 

 

 Bordalo II – Lisbon, Portugal (@b0rdalo_ii)
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Art Basel 2017: Our 15 art crushes

Every year, all eyes are turned up toward Miami at the beginning of December. For a week, all the art world is meeting in Miami for what has become today the biggest artistic gathering in the world. When Art Basel first came to Miami in 2002, it was a satellite art fair to the Basel, Switzerland main art fair. It’s now the biggest annual art event in North America thanks to the perfect cocktail of palm trees, parties, a surge of interest in art with the Instagram explosion. Today many satellite art fairs have joined the event with the recent No Commission organized by Swizz Beatz, but also Scope, Pulse, Untitled or the Juxtapoz Clubhouse.

In 2009, Wynwood Walls opens its door to urban artists from all around the world to paint the walls of the Wynwood district warehouses. Now Miami as becomes the largest open-air museum showcasing the works of the most talented artists. Today we’re bringing to you our favorites pieces created this year with Nychos, Tristan Eaton, Conor Harrington, Greg Mike, Seth, Sipros Sipros, Trek6, Sonny, Fanakapan, Arlin Graff, Apitatan and the Montrealers Dodo Ose and Ola Volo.

Conor Harrington ©Halopigg

 

 

Trek6 & Ishmael

 

 

Dodo Ose ©Kev_inthestreets_mtl

 

 

 Fanakapan & Nuno Viegas

 

 

Ola Volo

 

 

Arlin Graff

 

 

 Greg Mike

 

 

Nychos

 

 

Seth

 

 

Sipros Sipros

 

 

 Sonny ©Halopigg


Frida Stiil Vium

 

 

Apitatan

 

 

Tristan Eaton

 ©Photos: Andre Bathalon

Mural Festival 2017

Juxtapoz Clubhouse at Art Basel Miami 2017

Once again, Juxtapoz Magazine is attracting the attention of curious visitors to Miami for Art Basel with the Juxtapoz Clubhouse art fair. We went to the opening and we were completely stoked by the art installations and the spectacular selection featuring works by Jean Jullien, Faith 47, Ron English, Laurence Vallieres, Serge Lowrider, Low Bros, Zane Meyer, Alex Yanes and many more!

Juxtapoz is also showcasing projects from the best gallery around the world starting with Montreal’s Station 16 Gallery, as well as Jonathan LeVine Projects, Thinkspace, Corey Helford Gallery, Think Tank, Athen B Gallery, Good Mother Gallery, Superchief Gallery, First Amendment, and Urban Nation.

Stikki Peaches and What is Adam at Station 16’s booth

 

Taking place within the Juxtapoz Clubhouse located at the Historic Walgreen’s Building in downtown Miami, adidas Skateboarding is presenting “The Showcase”, a group show houseing the best emerging international talent within the global skateboarding community alongside Juxtapoz’s lineup of critically acclaimed artists. After last year’s frenetic skatepark, Juxtapoz also teamed up with adidas Skateboarding line and Mana Contemporary, to offer an outdoor space with a skate park and a mural by Irish artist, Conor Harrington.

Conor Harrington

 

Homeless Cop

 

Jaune

 

For all the lucky ones in Miami, don’t miss the opportunity to discover all these exceptional artworks for yourself! You have until December 10, to go to Juxtapoz Clubhouse in downtown Miami at 200 East Flagler Street!

Poshgod

Ronald Gonzales

 

Kip Omolade

 

Shyama

 

Lena Gustafson

 

Ellen Rutt

 

Jessie Unterhalter

 

Hoxxoh

 

Skinner

 

Mimi Scholz

 

 Kate Klingbell

 

Luke Pelletier & Kristen Liu Wong

 

James Bullough

 

©Photo: Andre Bathalon