Urban Artist Series

Posted on February 29, 2012


I have made my first contact with the Bristol based urban artists group of whom I hope to do a portrait series. My nephew Keith is one of the group. They were  painting a mural on the walls of a barbershop ‘Floyds’ in the Horfield district of Bristol. The guys had been hard at work since early on Sunday and I joined them for the day on Monday as the painting was getting closer to completion.

I had a great day and got to know the artists. They were very welcoming and my biggest problem was to get them not to pose for the photographs. They are a fun group and love to joke and clown around. I have decided to work with the group over time hoping that they’ll get used to  having me around and then perhaps they will relax and I might get some great photographs.

The space was quite small and there was no room to set up lights, so I decided on a set of informal portraits using an off camera speedlight bounced off the walls and ceiling to provide some fill. The place was quite dark towards to rear of the room. I seemed to get the best results waiting for them to sit back and look at their work or when they were listening during a conversation. Each time I asked them to pose for a portrait they stiffened up and the results look quite posed and forced.

I also made a grid representation of their artwork as an aid-memoire. As it turned out this worked really well. I have in mind making the same kind of grid for each of the events I visit. I might then be able to use them in the context of a book alongside the portraits. Not surprisingly the artists were more interested in this photograph of their artwork than the portraits of themselves.

There are a number of further events coming up which I plan to go to: a skatepark possibly in April; a giant crab painting in Folkstone also in April; and the Urban Painting Festival for two days at the beginning of June….so lots of potential. The main challenges will be to organise my diary and to get the guys to relax…..I am known to the group as Uncle Keith!! Their facebook pages now call me this and apparently ‘Uncle Keith Rocks!’. Wish I was young again!!

Below are four photographs of the day….I have included the gridded artwork to start and then one portrait of each of the artists.

Artwork – Floyds Barbershop