This August a group of street artists from Portland, Oregon as well as their friends from other ends visited Shoreditch to bless the public realm with their creativity. Various combinations of this group have been visiting Europe regularly over the years and the street art they create is never short of impressive.
RX Skulls and Voxx Romana have been at the centre of the previous manifestations of this team, on this occasion they were joined by City Kitty from New York, Toastoro from Portland and team photographer Cody Keto.
Each artist has embraced differing themes and influences yet there is commonality in the techniques, placements and energy. Paste ups, stencil, stickers and various installations are all deployed in the name of public decoration, sometimes in adventurous and novel ways.
RX Skulls is one of the best known art sticker makers around and he came prepared with masses of stickers, as well as paste ups and stencils.
Visible in the photo above is a small RX Skulls paste up on the corner of the window ledge, a relic from 2018 which can be seen in its early days in the photo below. Also visible in the following photo is a sculpture by 3x3x3 and a paste up from C3, C3 is one of the UK artists RX skulls has collaborated with and if you look closely above you can see the carbonised remains of that C3 in the layers of historic grime.
Which leads to the next photo in which another aspect of the art practice of this posse is apparent, their enthusiasm for an art collaboration. A collection of conjoined skeleton RX Skulls characters called the Chonks are seen in partnership with art from his UK friends D7606 and C3. The Chonkening reflects RX’s intention to cram in tons of movies this year, don’t we all have an accumulated cinema deficit following the pandemic? Another conjoined couple are off on a tattoo spree with a tattoo gun.
In a lovely gesture RX gave a number of stickers which were hugely appreciated by guests of the Shoreditch Street Art Tour.
By the way, sticker placement at seriously impressive height was achieved using a special applicator I have seen on the net but never seen in action before.
Voxx Romana came similarly prepared and perhaps most striking were his collaborations with Danny Ebru who provided the marbled paper background to Voxx Romana’s stencils, something Voxx brought with him on his previous visit. The backgrounds are simply delicious.
Voxx got inventive with stencils wrapped around corners, borrowed background colours complement the stencilled definition of the face as if the whole thing was a single original collaborative art piece
Another returning member was the collaboration machine City Kitty. City Kitty focusses more on hand painted paste ups rather than print runs and consequently gets up fewer pieces than the other guys. City Kitty does the street art podcast Scratching The Surface which is so damn good, several recent episodes were interviews recorded on this European foray. If you are interested in the sticker arm device mentioned above then listen to all of City Kitty’s podcasts, one of them is with the artist whose side hustle is selling those poles.
Toastoro, whose pseudonym is a fusion of the word “toast” and the name of the Studio Ghibli animation character “Totoro”, has had art up in Shoreditch in the past courtesy of friends putting him up but this visit really marked his first overseas in-person “campaign”. Toastoro introduced two art techniques rarely seen in London street art: LED illuminated street art (hold tight Lost Hills) and layered art which Toastoro calls vinyl topography, the textured layered effect is hard to relive or convey through “mere” photographs.
The Studio Ghibli reference implicit in the compound name Toastoro influences his subject matter which included sightings of Totoro (obvs) with a body shaped rather like a slice of bread, susawatari dust bunnies and funniest of all, a souped up cat bus (“My Neighbour Totoro”) with added toaster functionality.
Voxx, RX and Toastoro all felt pavement stencilling was in order, something Voxx Romana and RX Skulls have done in Shoreditch on previous visits.
The boys from Portland also put out some #FreeArt. RX Skulls became only the second street artist I can recall putting out bronze street art.
Accompanying the street artists was the amazing and super cool photographer Cody Keto. While out one evening the group bumped into Stik, a chance encounter which gave Cody the opportunity to create some amazing light trail photographs at Stik’s famous Hoxton Couple statue. Cody has kindly given permission for his stunning photos to appear here.
The love extended to this group of visiting artists is really a reflection of the way they reach out to and embrace the wider world. This is most apparent in their collaborations, these guys are total collaboration engines and it is not surprising to see them collaborating by design, on opportunity and by chance.
City Kitty hooked up with Neon Savage, the pair having collaborated many times down the years since meeting in Croydon in 2017 a fact gleaned from their podcast conversation on the always excellent City Kitty podcast.
One of the group told us that the highlight of the visits had been the welcome they received in Europe, visits were made to Manchester, Hackney Wick, Paris as well as Shoreditch and Southbank. There were planned hook-ups as well as chance encounters with street artists and many artists and fans travelled to meet the team.
Mowcka has previously collaborated with City Kitty and travelled to hook up in Shoreditch.
The combination of artists in this travelling circus changes on each visit but fear not, art by absent friends appears courtesy of those who do make the trip.
Vane’s sticker is printed on a transparent background, Voxx’s placement on Vane’s behalf intentionally responds to the red letterpress print by Jean Peut Etre. One of those “chance” collaborations perhaps.
Notice the writing of Cheer Up’s name in the glitched font in the face – genius!
This visiting group of artists peppered Shoreditch and other parts of Europe with new street art embodying innovative, novel, collaborative, improvised fun wherever they went. There were so many dimensions to the art and the activities they got up to that this little flashback really does not do justice to their contribution to the street art scene.
RX Skulls Instagram ”
Art From Arrex. Stick It.” RX Skulls stickers in Shoreditch, 2014
“Secrets Of The Sticker Shed – Sticker Making Workshop” (How to become RX Skulls)
Voxx Romana Instagram
City Kitty Instagram
Cody Keto Photography website