Post by Veronica Perez
(Veronica Perez’s post is part of a collaboration between artblog and Moore College of Art and Design’s Culture in the Classroom program. Veronica is one of two students in Terri Saulin’s Professional Practices class chosen by Libby and Roberta to have their posts published on artblog. We look forward to seeing more of Veronica’s writing on artblog in the future.)
On October 6, 2013, I attended a private talk and exhibit at Ps & Qs by graffiti and sticker artist, Frost215. Frost215 (or Jason Smith, his given name), along with a few other artists, are credited with single-handedly creating the Philadelphia Character Sticker Art Movement that started about 10 years ago. In 2003, Frost215 created the character, EL TORO, as a way to set himself apart from the traditional Philadelphia style of graffiti.
He was tenacious and blindly ambitious in making EL TORO’s presence known in Philadelphia and soon after, the rest of the globe. Since then, his work has been showcased in group and solo art shows. Frost215 has created a movement in Philadelphia and has inspired others to follow in his footsteps. This type of art is available to the public for FREE via stickers/tags on the street.
Why, you ask, is it important to talk about graffiti/sticker art when talking about fine art? How can stickers even begin to be called fine art? They aren’t curated in a gallery, they don’t hang in museums and sometimes people just consider them a nuisance. Graffiti has a long history of being hated, but recently with the emergence of Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and MOST recently Shepard Fairey and Steve Powers (ESPO), this style of art is becoming more widely accepted and practiced. It is also one that should not be passed by.
Jason got his start by attending the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where he met people from New York who were into graffiti, especially tags, which is the artist’s name done in a certain font or style. The exhibit at Ps & Qs was a ten-year retrospective of his work on his character EL TORO and how it evolved over the years.
My interview with the artist
I got to also sit down with Frost215 and ask him a few questions after the talk:
1. If you could hand one of your stickers to any one person, who would it be?
Being able to hand a sticker to Obama would be dope. Get all dressed up and get to be able to be inside the White House. I’d have to give him more than one though so he can give some to his kids, too.
2. What was the last book you read?
The Wu-Tang Manual by Rza
3. Who are three artists you’re currently looking at?
4.What are you currently doing now?
I’m a freelance graphic designer working out in LA.
I’m also trying to expand my brand MTDR Trading Co. (http://mtdrtradingco.bigcartel.com/)
5. How does Frost 215 feel about El Toro taking over his identity?
It’s always has been a Frankenstein complex. Frost215 will always be the creator and EL TORO will be my monster.
6. Last one, so you’re pretty influential in (almost) single-handedly creating the Philadelphia Character Sticker Art movement. How has it had an impact on your life and do you think that sticker art can become a fine art?
Stickers have provided me access to opportunities I normally wouldn’t have as a regular civilian. It leads me to meet plenty of life long friends and even played a part of meeting my wife. I also think it could be fine art because it’s a medium that provokes an emotion to the viewer.
El Toro’s ten-year retrospective was on view earlier this month at Ps & Qs (820 South Street).
—Veronica Perez is a BFA senior at Moore College of Art and Design, with a concentration on performance and installation. Visit www.veronicaaperez.com for more information and images of her work.