The last few years have seen the rise and rise of the UK’s Mobstr. His work consists mostly of a minimalistic style with black stenciled grafitti letters on a billboard or wall, and has all the elements of what makes placing unsanctioned art in public places important. Clever in a conceptual kinda way, interactive, inspirational, thought provoking and just damn right LOL funny, Mobstr is sure to bring more than a grin to any fan of street art. Following in a long tradition of subvertisers, ad-takovers and brandalists, Mobstr employs his unique brand of biting social commentary and astute witticism in a manner unrivalled since the early days of Banksy. Utilising methods designed and employed for decades by the advertising industry itself, Mobstr’s artworks act as small “glitches of humanity” in the sea of false realities beamed at us from billboards everywhere we go. Mobstr’s small acts of defiance are amplified a million fold when posted online to an audience eager to believe there are alternatives to the corporate dominance of our public space.
As he said in a interview with the blog Public Ad Campaign: ”I guess I think of public space in a city as the areas in which everyone is allowed physical access to. I am not sure if public space entails anything more than this. We’re indoctrinated with the belief that graffiti (or now known as street art) is a blight on our space yet the majority of us happily walk around the visual bombardment of advertising without a moment of questioning its justification. We’ll happily put a six metre wide billboard up on the side of a shop or house convincing you the latest innovative toothbrush will enrich your life yet when someone paints a picture on some brick we suddenly become offended. What is the difference between putting your image on the street via the means of a billboard or taking it into your own hands and spraying it on a wall? The billboard is legal and the spray paint image is not. Why? One is endorsed by money and the other by a creative spirit. I know which one wins out for me and ultimately which one creates the image I would rather walk around my city and look at.”
However, such simple sarcastic and ironic messages are intelligent and thought-provoking―though entirely illegal. His home-town Newcastle, which is “crawling with police and cameras,” has adopted a zero-tolerance policy to street art/graffiti, but Mobstr does not let this deter him. If anything, it seems to fuel his creative streak. His work tends to form a dialogue between parties, a two-way conversation between the ad industry, the city council, and in some cases, street art fans themselves. Knowing that they can only respond in a pre-prescribed way – another ad – usually means Mobstr always comes out on top.