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~


  1. ugh.....I hate when anyone takes anything off the street and puts it in their living room, it's such a double standard. Leave it on the street!!!


  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_with_Toy_Hand_Grenade_in_Central_Park Child with grenade.... If anyone should be copied or exploited, it should be the street artists that steal images to begin with. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_with_Toy_Hand_Grenade_in_Central_Park

  3. Oh man it's all just so crazy isn't it!! I'm gonna side with Tolstoy and just vote for no such thing as private property :)

    Bandit you're awesome. We get the message. Cool job.
    Army of one....bro we know its not your image but to your credit....you do credit the photographer. Not sure how all that pans out but I can give some credit to you giving the credit. Some. That you make thousands off an Arbus photo? Mmmm I don't know man. Hard to say.

    Nomatterwhatness....don't think you care that the guy takes a sign you found in the trash and spent fifteen minutes stenciling or tiles you put all over the place.
    Rs70.....it's a piece of wood. And a cool one. But yeah, maybe switch from nails to a better adhesive?
    Anyway, I just think we all know some people are opportunist and that when you put something on the street....anything can happen.

    This is an interesting article. It's also ironic in the sense that sooooooo many of the pieces taken from the street are taken by street art fans. They may not sell it, but they take it and put it in their -living room-
    This guy only takes art that's in silverlake. So if you don't want him to have it, don't get up in silverlake.

    Alec, free, thankyouX .....well, when ya get close to ripping off pop art....the masses are gonna buy it. And no, the sellers aren't gonna compensate you. It's mother freaking street art not galleries or something you're selling on etsy. Seriously, you don't want anything to happen to your street art???? Don't make street art. Make other kinda art.

    Anyway...yea. Just some thoughts. Peace to everybody. Stay up.

    1. nice thoughts, I'm guessing you own the store in Silverlake, am I right?

  4. So, if someone builds a beautiful building in downtown LA, and I come along and photograph it, should I not be able to print it and sell it? What about the documentary photographer? It's the choice of the street artist to put their work up, most of the time illegally, and leave it to "ride" until it rots. Street artists can't just formulate their own code of ethics in an genre with no ethics. If I purposefully leave my iPhone on a bench in DTLA, should I not think that someone will take it and most likely sell it? Of course I should. I think the street artists of today should think about the story of Napster and the file sharing debacle. Lars from Metallica cried and cried about people taking their music and sharing it illegally. Fast forward a decade later, there are more people sharing music files than ever before, while at the same time more music is being purchased legitimately. My point is this, if you call yourself an "artist", then one must assume that you value your work. If that's true, more than likely someone else will value it too. If you choose to put your work up, in public, for evermore, with the intent to let it decay, expect someone else to capitalize on it. A photographer will photograph it, the collector may try to salvage it, the extremist might take a door off it's hinges to own it, the passerby will adore it, but you have chosen to abandon it in the wildest of places, unprotected, and for that reason you should be honored that your piece is thought of that highly to be valued at all. If street artist want to collectively buy a section of DTLA and privatize it, so that they can put their art up, totally protected, by all means do it. But now that people are placing value on street art, don't enact a double standard that all of the sudden it's a protected commodity. It's just ridiculous. For God's sake, it's like you're leaving a brand new Mercedes, with a iPad in the fornt seat, unlocked, night after night, and bitching when it finally gets stolen. Your best recourse against this is to embrace it and try to evolve with it. The vast majority of people are going to continue to go about their day and observe your work, from a distance, until it disintegrates off the wall. But for those who think enough of your work to capture it, sell it, or entomb it behind a 4 inch piece of bulletproof glass, be honored that it's your work that's been chosen. Be cleaver, try to figure a way to harness the power of the spotlight, rather than form an angry mod to shut it down. The truth is, you will never be able to stop people from trying to capitalize on good art, street art or otherwise. I do suppose there is an alternative for this street artists who have enough money...hire an armed guard to stand next to your wheat-paste for the next 12 months until it's completely evaporated.
    “Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a fucking sharp knife to it.”
    - Banksy