Thursday, May 2, 2013
Bubblehead - Mike McNielly is NOT a Street Artist
What would you think if the owner of one of the largest supergraphics billboard companies started posing as a street artist? WTF, right?
Well, its happening. . .
A few weeks ago, LA Weekly ran a feature story saying that new street artist Bubblehead is putting up pieces in LA encouraging people to vote. It was a pat-on-the-back article that mentioned Bubblehead and then talked about how the upcoming election is approaching. They also mentioned that Bubblehead is Mike McNielly.
M&F was curious because we had seen the bus bench ads from Bubblehead around LA, but they all look professionally printed, like a bus bench advertisement. So we were expecting that this Mike McNielly would have a connection to a street printing company, but we were flabbergasted to find out that Mike is the owner of Skytag--a multi-million dollar supergraphics company that wraps mega-advertisements on buildings in Los Angeles.
The City of Los Angeles has deemed supergraphic billboards to be illegal, and LA has fined Skytag immense amounts of money. However, the money earned from supergraphic billboards exceeds the fines, so the billboards stay up.
M&F found this information from a scathing article directed at Mike from none other than the LA Weekly. The article is so brutal that the caption next to a picture of Mike encourages viewers to 'say something rude' if they see Mike on the street since he is rude to everyone in LA. Its remarkable that the the LA Weekly could follow up with the recent cupcake feature endorsing Bubblehead as a street artist without mentioning who Mike McNielly is.
As for Bubblehead's 'street art' itself, Bubblehead lives up to its name, the imagery is polished but empty. Sure, there are some pieces that say 'Vote' and some other's that say 'Bully'. But, these self-described 'vital messages' get pretty blurry in the message, and the 'Bully' piece with cool looking robot soldiers might actually encourage more of that action than stop it. Even if one wants to try and find context, you still have to filter through Bubblehead's stagnant rocket ship and celebrity face images to find anything hinting at content.
So, when you see Bubblehead pieces around town, it is not street art. Its just a supergraphic advertisement pretending to be street. And art.
Oh! There they are! The 'Vote' ones . . .
^Kinda looks like Shepard Fairey (but folks might argue that Shep's aesthetic borrowed heavily from similar looking propaganda imagery to begin with)