Poster Bombing 2011

Graffiti creeps up along the Upfield line bicycle path and in recent years there several quality pieces north of Moreland station. Paste-ups have now reached the shoe factory on my block with a well-placed piece by Shark, who appears to be specializing in images of birds.

Shark, flying ducks, Coburg

As if there weren’t enough fly-posters for bands and concerts all over Melbourne there has been a big increase in paste-ups in the last year. Paste-ups maybe popular with street artists but are not highly regarded by the general public, unlike the public reception to the stencil art scene. This is because there often there isn’t much to this poster bombing. An unoriginal black and white photograph is enlarged on a photocopier and pasted on the wall doesn’t impress the general public even if it is really big. Part of the problem is often the only consideration for paste-up placement is access and visibility. The content of many of these paste-ups is just bland selection of sampled photographs images. Many people want the instant fame of street art; years ago Happy commented with his “Instant Fame” series of paste-ups.

Happy, "Get Instant Fame"

Quality paste-ups are cut around the outline of the image, or include, even more paper cutting, like those of Miso and Swoon. Paste-up specialists like Phoenix mounts his paste-ups on cut MDF panels that have been designed withstand the weather.

Baby Guerilla, floating nude women

Many artists and illustrators are using paste-ups to show their work on the street; I keep seeing Baby Guerilla’s floating nude women along on the streets. The Melbourne paste-up artists that I most admire are Phoenix, Urban Cake Lady and Happy. (There are others who I have not been able to identify.) I admire their work because they are produce interesting content; the message and content of the paste-up is more important than the wheat paste technique. Phoenix is interested in the politics and meaning of signs. Urban Cake Lady mysterious red draped woman with stripped stockings along with wild animals. And Happy had a cynical take on both street art and advertising.



Urban Cake Lady

unknown artist, clothes line

Happy, "toy!"

unknown artist

Who is your favorite wheat-pasting street artist?

About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

6 responses to “Poster Bombing 2011

  • Sparcs

    At the outset I was all pfff and disagreement but that soon gave way ahhh and indeeds. I agree wholeheartedly that paste-ups are all too easy a way into the world of street art. Producing poorly constructed, placed and produced pifffle. Mind you it might just be the way some people get in and go forward. If we indeed examine urbancakelady’s early works we can see the photocopier and the big effects. Now she is wonderfully mad in producing the detail

  • dean sunshine

    yes there seems to have been an explosion in paste ups in the last year or so.
    I love them, especially when they make me smile…..
    Phoenix and UrbanCake Lady are faves of mine but I also totally enjoy the works by other artists including Kaff-eine, Drab, Shinobi, Be Free, Vandal Spruce, Flake and Doctor

  • happyunderground

    Your comments on the unoriginal nature of a lot of poster art really remind me of similar critique of stencil art. I think the public generally hold them both in fairly similar regard, ie. to make a piece of stencil art just get some stock footage of a current politician, contrast it in photoshop then have a gun pointing towards or away from them. I’m interested in your craft bias, that because these pieces were easy to make the are intrinsically of a lesser value. Seems like an odd hangup to me, but whatever floats your boat really.

  • Mark Holsworth

    Happyunderground, I think that you have confused my reporting of popular bias against a lack of craft in paste-ups with my own biases. I don’t have any confusion between effort and result; otherwise there would be a mathematical difference between doing the sum and simply knowing the answer. The public on the other hand thinks that there is a big difference between cutting and spraying a stencil and simply photocopying an image. Lack of originality is another and more complex matter.

  • happyunderground

    An important distinction, definitely. However I would still disagree with the idea that there is a big distinction in public opinion between paste-ups and stencils. In our experience the public (in Melbourne anyway) are well aware of the fact that it takes about the same amount of effort to make and implement a stencil as it does a paste-up and therefore tend to hold them in a similar regard. Lack of originality is more complex, but it sounded like that was the basis of your thoughts on public opinion, ie. people are not impressed by a pasteup because a blown up stock photo is unoriginal in both craft and concept.

    Also- It has been brought to our attention before that when we comment and question we can come off sounding a little aggressive, but we’re only commenting because we read/like your blog and enjoy a varied discussion on street work.

  • Mark Holsworth

    I think that one reason is that the general public are more familiar with photocopier technology than cutting a stencil. I was remembering the way that the public first responded to stencils was a real breakthrough time in Melbourne’s street art.
    No problems and no offense taken, the comments are great. I think that the street art community (compared to the “fine artists”) writes the best comments that I receive on this blog because they are although they don’t always agree with me they contribute to the discussion of the topic. There has been some tough and robust debates but that’s what I want. And I hope that all the posts and comments will in some way make street art better. Thanks for reading and all your comments.

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