Break out street artists are rare beasts. These are street artists whose appeal grows way beyond the natural base of street art fans leading to popularity and commercial success. Commercial success doesn’t preclude artistic success of course.
David Speed started his neon illuminated portraits and animal painting around Shoreditch a few years ago and has achieved such ubiquity that he is one of the few artists, other than Banksy and Helch, whose art is recognised by Shoreditch Street Art Tour guests exploring street art for the first time.
David certainly wasn’t new to spraypainting at the beginning of this neon pink phase, his double life has him as Director of Shoreditch based spraypainting outfit Graffiti Life. Lockdown bestowed gifts on David in two ways –the reduced demand for commercial spraypainting services seems to have allowed him more time to focus on personal and artistic development and if you check out his Creative Rebels podcast that certainly comes across strong. There was also a significant increase in available street canvasses as business fearing a breakdown in law and order went for full plywood cladding as we went into lockdown in 2020.
David’s art exploded across Shoreditch property and caught a lot of attention.
In the street art world, London at least, David is synonymous with this pink neon street art style so it was an amusing irony earlier this year that a mural advert was painted in David’s signature colour combination by a rival spraypainted advert company. Many people erroneously identified David as the artist so he felt compelled to put up a deliciously executed take out.
He currently has a self-organised solo show running in Shoreditch, it turns out the neon illumination theme suits canvas and paper as well as it does brick walls.
A recent project that must have taken a long time to prepare was David’s “drop” of 1000 hand finished prints around the streets of London, to those with long enough memories this was a homage to Adam Neate’s 1000 print drop in 2008. We came across one of David’s murals on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour that day at which point a guest pulled a pair of prints out of his bag with a flourish and declared “I found these on the street as I was walking to the tour!” Lucky guy.
The show is located just a couple of minutes walk from where our morning Shoreditch Street Art Tour ends, so perhaps book a tour this coming Friday, Saturday or Sunday and complement it with a visit to the show. Admission to the show is free.
“Light Of Life” show runs until Sunday September 12th.
The Depot | 33 Boundary Street | Shoreditch | E2 7JQ
All photos: Dave Stuart
With all that pink and blue no attempt was made at colour correction in processing the exhibition photos!