Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Street Art is for the Outdoors, Not Your Living Room
There seems to be an epidemic of stores in Los Angeles cashing in on street art and making money off of art that is not theirs.
Yesterday, M&F posted how a store has been selling prints taken from photograph's of street art, without the artist's consent and without compensating the artist in any way.
Well, currently there is another store in Silverlake that has found itself embroiled in a street art scandal. The store called the 'Living Room' is actively selling street art pieces taken from the streets. Some of the current items for sale are shown in the picture above. It sells the pieces from $200-$500 and has sold, or is selling pieces from street artists including Teacher, Army of One, Nomatter Whatness, RS70 and more.
This store seems to appreciate the monetary value of the street art, but not the process or what it takes to get there. According to a current worker at the Living Room, and possibly the owner(?), when asked if he felt if the street artists should receive some portion of the money the store is making by selling their items, the guy at the living room replied "Fuck em".
Some people, and even some artists feel that once a piece goes on the streets, whatever the fate of that piece turns out to be is fair game. And that seems to be the Living Room's opninion as well. But this is not the first time that M&F has covered the folks at the Living Room. Not only does this business rip art from the streets to sell, but they have also straight ripped off artists. Last year, M&F posted this article about 'How the Stuffed Animal Revolution Got Stolen'. The story detailed how street artist Heartschallenger created a stuffed animal revolution, and then how that artwork got copied, stripped of meaning, and then sold in a Silverlake store. M&F emailed Heartschallenger to ask if that store was the Living Room, and Heartschallenger confirmed that it is one and the same.
And to add a big more intrigue, the Living Room is the same store where Bandit hit with a piece warning against street art piracy. Bandit placed the piece here after hearing what was going on. Some people in the street art community have derided Bandit for 'spot jacking' by putting his piece up next to a stencil on the Living Room building from the original street artist and Banksy influencer, Blek le Rat (pic shown below). The Blek piece is a commission piece, and reportedly the owners of the Living Room invited Blek to paint the wall because they are 'lovers' of street art. M&F has been nothing short of impressed with the way that Bandit has made his statement about street art through street art. Last we heard, the Living Room had removed the door that Bandit had placed the piece on and intends to sell it.
This is so fascinating, because on one hand the Living Room is pirating true active street art, while claiming to be lovers of the same scene which they are openly disrespecting and violating the terms of. Some folks feel that commission walls are the ultimate, some folks might feel that the big names from yesterday need to be respected no matter what, and some folks might not feel that what the Living Room is doing is wrong. But the true lovers of the scene realize that it is wrong to pirate the egg without ever taking care of the hen. Furthermore, there is no greater crime in the street art world than copying and stealing another artist's work, and this example is the most blatant we have ever seen. It is the definition of a hi-jacked sell-out.
Bottom line is, it is morally wrong to hurt the scene that helping you. And once again, artists need to be aware and careful with their art. Once you put something on the street, there is no guessing what might become of it. It is a wise decision to trademark your work, which does offer some legal protection against situations like this. And M&F has, and will always champion active street artists over those with fuzzy relationships to corporations that are bad for the street art community.
Street art is made for the outdoors. Keep us out of your living room.
Stay up, Los Angeles~