In the mid 1980’s graffiti was deem the scourge of society, councils hated it to such an extent they put pressure on the police to act. The police responded with ‘Operation Anderson’ which took place on the 20th March 1989 in which the homes of 72 suspected graffiti writers were raided. The raids took place in Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Cardiff and at the time it was the biggest anti-graffiti operation in the history of British policing.
Fast forward 10 years and a graffiti artist was about to change the perception of graffiti. His name is Banksy, a street artist whose identity remains unknown, is believed to have been born in Bristol, England, around 1974. He rose to prominence for his provocative stencilled pieces in the late 1990.His work often engages political themes, satirically critiquing war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed. His popularity grew and even the council were looking to preserve his work, the same council of which were looking to lock up his mentors a decade earlier.
As his popularity was growing, Banksy teamed up with now London art gallery owner Steve Lazerides. Their aim was to take street art from the streets and make it accepted within the art world. And boy did they do this. With countless sell out shows, and countless sell out limited edition print releases the art world were certainly taking note. For example if you purchased a signed limited edition print around 2002-2004, you would pay between £70 -£100, that same print would probably sell now for over £20,000 today. With original artworks selling over £300,000, the big hitting art collectors were certainly taking note. Now there are dozens of graffiti artists making a living in the art world and a lot of credit must be to Banksy.
A Bristol Based company are taking this a stage further. Urbanized are using graffiti/urban art and turning it in to usable pieces of art, In the form of furniture. They produce a large range of handmade furniture with graffiti/urbanart designs. We asked the founder of Urbanised, Paul Date, a few questions:
What exactly does Urbanized produce?
We produce high quality furniture but with an urban twist, by this I mean we produce solid wood furniture with graffiti/urban art designs, dining tables, tv units, coffee tables, bookshelf’s etc. We have a very flexible and talented team of graffiti artist which will cover most styles. We can also customise any product to the clients needs. For example we had a London based American actor who wanted the swear word that begins with ‘F’ covered over our range of furniture in our “OldSchool” style. At the other end of the spectrum we had a client who wanted a painting of outer space painted on his child’s bedroom wall, the client also ordered a range of furniture to match. So we are very flexible to the client’s needs.
What Inspired you to start Urbanised?
I have always been an avid follower of the Bristol Graffiti urban art scene since back in the day, I’m also a collector of urban art so the interest has always been there. I’ve witnessed the rapid growth of the industry, so I believe what we are doing is a natural progression. Usable pieces of graffiti /urban art can be the centre piece of any room.
But the idea really arose last Christmas, my son wanted a set of DJ music decks for Christmas. So we purchased a set for him but we had nothing appropriate to sit them on. I scoured the internet for something “street” looking so to speak, but I came up blank. So I purchased a cabinet and got a graffiti artist to spray paint it. Christmas morning my son was more excited about the cabinet than he was about the DJ decks! He uploaded a picture to Facebook and Instagram ,the response he got was incredible. This is when the idea of Urbanised came together.
You have been trading for four months now, how is it going?
To be honest I have been completely stoked from the response we have had, we are currently working to a 5 week turnaround. We say this to all of our clients because we won’t let anything leave our workshop unless we are completely happy with it. Our furniture is made to last and we expect it to. Each Piece that leaves our workshop will have our logo heat stamped, numbered and will come complete with a certificate of authenticity.