2013 experienced an art explosion across all platforms and forums from new and old creatives. Brands tapped into the secret worlds of artists and exploited their best elements for mass appeal. But despite the hype, the artists picked below were chosen for always staying true to their style and for creating great work. Here’s our picks for URBN FRESH CREATV‘s (UFC) Favorite Artists of 2013.
4. PaperFrank, 23, Atlanta
PaperFrank has mastered the art of making snot nose kids look dope. His acrylic-based paintings typically feature a variety of characters, which include Damien and Jessica, in different scenes. The characters were developed out of the harsh realities of his childhood. He spent most of his time in his room as a kid to escape the torments of his alcoholic mother. “For most kids, monsters are figments of their imagination that they learn to tame by anchoring themselves in the real world. But when the monster is real, imagination becomes one’s only means of escape,” Frank stated in his Creative Loafing ATL interview. His work takes you on an adolescent ride that’s covered in bubblegum pink, candy yellows, and drenched in green snot. UFC personally loves Paper Frank for the honesty he puts in his work and how it translates to crude, childlike animations. Some of our favorites include his salutes to the greats- Basquiat, Haring, and Warhol. Check out his work and stay tuned with PaperFrank online and on Instagram.
3. Biscuit Street Preacher, 44, Las Vegas
Imagine a world that’s filled with a mix of detail and clutter, precision and mess, meaning and grace. That’s the work Biscuit Street Preacher delivers every time he blesses a canvas. His detailed drawings coupled with strong brush strokes create a lovely mashup of chaos and beauty that reflect the road warrior tales of his past. As a kid he traveled from town to town with his musical, vagabond father. “I learned to notice bolt patterns on the bridges we would pass over. I began to hear the wind through trees versus a breeze through a cracked window. All these things have come together as one to give me my most valuable possession, my state of mind,” BSP writes on his Facebook page. His work takes a juvenile concept that is delivered with excellent replicas from pieces of his life that create a detailed storyboard. The neo-expressionist style reminds me of the days Jean-Michel Basquiat roamed the earth and is the reason Biscuit Street Preacher is a personal favorite of UFC. We love how Biscuit Street Preacher delicately recreates his thoughts on canvas with brilliant and vibrant strokes while remaining meticulously detailed and precise. His work often leaves me in awe.
2. Shantell Martin, 33, New York
Doodles are typically streams of consciousness spread as a mess across a surface, but Shantell Martin makes her doodles elegant masterpieces. Martin’s black and white storyboards convey messages of self-empowerment and belief held under the simple notion, “You Are You.” They all start out the same; a trail of strong lines that lay the foundation of the entire doodle. Later, eyes and mouths and other symbols pop around the canvas until a complete story is written. She hails from London, England where her creativity began, being the only halfcast child in her predominantly white family. Life took her to Japan where she learned visual performance, until she leapt across the world to New York City. UFC especially loves Shantell Martin for the freedom she expresses in her craft. She has stated before that she never knows the entire story of a piece until it’s complete, but just lets her hand do the work. That amount of trust in her Krink pen has led her to magazine pages, PSFK conferences, photo opps with Diddy, and will surely get her much farther. Stay free, Shantell, we love it.
1. Jean-Michel Basquiat, 27, New York
Now, I know this is a list for artists of 2013, but despite being gone for 25 years, Basquiat’s personality and work remains relevant to this day. Throughout Basquiat’s 27 years on this planet he left over 1,000 paintings and 1,000 drawings that still surface around galleries and clothing stores. The dedication to his passion is the epitome of Charles Bukowski‘s saying, “Find what you love and let it kill you.” Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, but ran away when he was 15. He later found a home on the streets of SoHo and began tagging cryptic messages under the alias, SAMO. After he received popularity for his political graffiti, his paintings were next to catch the world’s eye. Basquiat’s genius work spoke volumes from the moment he held his first exhibit. The structure of his work, from the base colors, to overlapping drawings, and etched out words steals ever inch of intrigue. The level of intelligence mixed with his mashup of chaos creates a different story at every glance. One of my favorite tidbits is, “Onion gum makes your mouth taste like onions.” The distillation of words in his paintings makes life seem so simple. UFC especially loves Basquiat for the relevance he still holds today. Basquiat’s work is still being praised and exploited such as Supreme’s 2013 Fall/Winter line that featured the artist’s work, as well as Reebok’s 2012 Fall drop, and DeerDana’s tribute tee.
Let us know what you think of the list on Twitter and who you would have added. Remember to open your mind, not just your mouth.