American graffiti legend sells artwork for over S$300,000 in shop window in Singapore
By Lyn Chan
SINGAPORE – Josh Franklin must have a depth of phenomenal and otherworldly mental energy, you conclude, such as his factual revelation that he had already completed all 15 artworks for his first solo exhibition in Asia – minus one week since arriving in Singapore – is sinking.
The SUBBLUEMINAL: ULTRAMARINUS exhibition runs until September 5, 2022.
Franklin, better known as Stash, traveled to Singapore from New York on June 28 for a week-long residency at the Void Deck Art Gallery to produce original artwork as part of of the launch of his book, Subblueminal, which revisits his 40th birthday. creative adventure.
“We were thinking of celebrating the launch of the book with an art exhibition. So the exhibit is basically the story of my story in the book,” Stash said in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance Singapore.
“The common thread in my story is that I have always painted and always used graffiti in my works, whether through graphic design, collaboration with brands or through my paintings”, he said. -he explains.
Cache of the past
Stash has gone from an enthusiastic college student drawn to the seductive painting of underground “subway cars” to an accomplished artist whose work is now found only on the surface, often in studios and galleries or in collaborations with brands.
Stash was a 14-year-old high school student when he started identifying subway train names. The year was 1982 in New York – a time and place often considered the pinnacle of subway art, when trains sometimes stopped covered in spray paint.
At 17, Stash rose to tantalizing fame when his first canvas was featured with more than two dozen other artists, including acclaimed graffiti artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, at FUN Gallery “Graffiti, thank you very much!” He continued to paint in the sometimes deadly subway tunnels until 1987. Moving above ground, he stayed true to his love of the graffiti art form.
Stash’s place in the history of the graffiti movement was sealed when he became the first graffiti artist to collaborate with Nike. With this, he started a new chapter in his career arc, which so far spans 40 years. Other partnerships followed – Bape, Burton Snowboards, Leica and Reebok, among others.
Hide in the present
Tough and in his signature outfit of cap, baggy jeans T-shirt and trainers, he’s friendly, with an alert gaze and quiet energy despite the weather which was “(killing) a bit although I’m acclimatizing a bit more all days”.
He looks much younger than his 54 years. He frequently makes eye contact, but visitors who enter the gallery and view his work first catch his eye.
After so many years as an artist, the appreciation for his work remains high for Stash.
“I like the eyes on my work. If it sells, fantastic, amazing. But just the opportunity to be here in Singapore to show my works – it’s, for me, a payday; not financially, but in many other ways than money can do,” he said, savoring even the smallest viewer experiences and eager to learn more.
“(I still feel that way) after so many years. I do, I do. I feel blessed. I think that’s part of why I kept doing what I do. It’s a tiny little detail in the big picture, but it’s that little detail that keeps me going, ‘Okay, next time I’ll go even harder.’ It’s very inspiring to me.
It would surely have thrilled him to know that almost all of the artwork he created in Singapore was picked up within four days. The two most expensive pieces – Botanic Gardens and Beauty World – sold for S$30,000 each. The most affordable, Red Dot, 2022, Singapore (50 edition) cost S$1,000. Only the Indigo series remains, starting August 5.
The father-of-two shared his thoughts on his artistic trajectory, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and his relationship with money.
Describe your evolution as an artist.
I started out as a graffiti artist. Then I started making products so I could pay for my paint shop. But then it was the birth of what we call streetwear; a lot of things early on about clothes changed where I was going in my career. And so, I focused on that. I painted all the time, but it wasn’t my main mode.
I am 54 years old and I am starting the second part, what I call my second act. I want to collect my story and understand why I was able to do all the other things: it’s the reason why I made products. This is why I collaborate.
I realized how to use my creativity as a painter by doing graphics and learning the graphic language and then translating that onto T-shirts and other clothing to figure out how to get paid and make ends meet. And, oh my, now I’m a graphic designer. I haven’t seen it (before) because I was a graffiti artist, and didn’t realize it was a whole other world in itself.
I learned through the process and the trials, and finding out where I was, and wow, now I’m here.
what do you want to do next?
I explored. I’m really into painting right now, and I really like the opportunity to come here and have a limited time in residence to create a body of work; it’s really fascinating. Going forward, I want to explore more sculpting, bring my art into more 3D, and explore other avenues where I can be creative in the same visual sense that I drove.
My way of life is this: I create works of art, I put them in the world and I see how they are received. Little by little, more opportunities present themselves and more conversations take place. I expand my demographics.
You tried your hand at NFTs last year on the 5th Dimension NFT trading platform. What do you think of them?
It was very minimal, and it was a little intro done with friends. I was curious. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to put my name in the hat and see what happens, you know?
I haven’t really explored NFTs – I’m more of a spectator right now, observing and learning more about this world. It’s fascinating to me. I’m more of a manual artist, I like putting paint on my hands. I learn more about dialogue and understanding. NFTS is a bit deeper than people think. There is a lot of schooling to do. I don’t feel the call. I’m so busy right now in the traditional sense of making paintings, I’m working on my art.
On the whole, I’m indifferent. I agree with that. It’s the same for me: I went from vinyl to cassette to CD to mini CD. I have seen technology progress and understand that there is a place for it. Am I still using an old CD player? Yes. Sometimes. So I’m still not there. I respect it and understand it, and I’m totally open to it.
I have a lot of friends who really know this world and I’m really happy for them. I’m trying to figure out what my place in this community might be, if any.
So money is not a determining factor in what you do?
No it is not. But let’s be realistic. I have a family, I have children and I have mouths to feed.
But my purpose in making my artwork comes from a different place. The origin of my beginnings, being a graffiti artist in the subways of New York, you were not paid. It wasn’t about getting paid. Little did we know then, “oh, this is going to translate years later to all these beautiful mediums, clothes, and NFTs.” It was a passion. It was a personal movement that I still carry with me today.
I learned how to market myself and I learned how to use all the skills and tools that I trained with to translate them into things that I can market. It’s a gift. It took time to acquire it. It was not a sudden event. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, like all of us.
I’m glad my time through the process allowed me to create, share my creativity and get paid for it, that’s for sure.
A favorite work?
Wow. I’ve been asked several times. I make a silly joke about how I love all my kids. It’s really difficult because I like things at different times. Today you ask me and another journalist can ask me another day, and it might be a different answer because that day I felt inspired in a different way. And it shows in my art, over the years.
I think that’s why I would never want to get a tattoo because I’m scared I’m changing so fast. I don’t even have stickers on my computer — I’m not that person. I’m weird like that. Things I was into six weeks ago, I’m not into next week.
I love tattoo art though. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world. When my daughter turned 23, she wanted a tattoo, and I took her to a good friend of mine, an amazing tattoo artist named Mr. Kaves. He gave her a beautiful tattoo. I was impressed and actually a bit jealous – not of the tattoo but of the attitude, the confidence that comes with wearing a tattoo. I lack that confidence.
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