I count myself lucky to be friends with Oakoak. He’s one of my favorite humans on the planet. So far we’ve traveled together and painted on projects in Amsterdam and Japan. We would assist one another and give advice, but never had the opportunity to create whole pieces together. Oakoak and his partner flew in from St. Etienne France toward the end of July to come spend three weeks in the States. We planned to do pieces in Chicago and New York City, including our first collaborations.
The trip started off with a bang! Within the first few days of arriving Oakoak found (in his words) “the best cap in the world”:
I was very happy for him. It was a fine cap indeed.
I’ve always loved Oakoak’s work for its simplicity, universality and sense of humor. We brainstormed and came up with some collaborations using my coins and his hearts, along with some trompe l’oeil and anamorphic effects we were both excited to try.
We started in Chicago with a little piece on a corner store just down the street from my studio. It worked perfectly with their “ATM Available” sign.
Next we created our first anamorphic piece, using the corner of a building. (Anamorphic art is created using perspective to give a distorted image an interesting effect when viewed from a specific view point).
Now it was time for all of us to load up the van and start driving (Oakoak, Tiffany, Larysa and me). Our first stop was Detroit. Oakoak had a few print runs to hand finish at 1xRun. I helped of course, and then we could head out to see the rest of the town.
The rest of the town:
Piling back in the van, we head for New York City. After getting settled, we get quite a bit of Chinese food (Tiffany is obsessed, but we honestly don’t mind). We also visit the Whitney and the Met. Tiffany, Larysa and I enjoy our time and a number of the pieces in the museums. Oakoak however takes this time to create a few drawings:
We make our way down to the Lower East side to see a show opening at 212 Arts and talk with the owner, Marc. When he sees the kind of pieces we want to do, he offers us the front of his gallery. It’s a perfect place for this small piece.
We get a lead for another opportunity to paint from @just_a_spectator (on IG). He sends us an address to meet him in the Chinatown diamond district, and says we’re free to paint anywhere on the roof. When we get there, I’m very excited to see three Invader pieces on the front of the building (my favorite street artist of all time). And on the roof, there are even more great pieces such as this one from Fanakapan:
@Just_a_spectator happens to be a great guy and an amazing photographer who’s taken some of the biggest names in street art around New York. Oakoak and I felt very fortunate to have met him. Here are the projects we did on the roof. Some photos by "Just a Spectator”
A really great unexpected part of the trip was that Oakoak knew Dan Witz from painting at a couple of the same festivals. I’m a huge fan of Dan’s work! He’s one of the only other artists I know creating trompe l’oeil work successfully both on the street and in galleries. He likes to create small unexpected pieces that fit seamlessly into their surroundings. He’s extremely talented and it was a huge honor to get to meet him and see his studio. Here are some views of the pieces he was working on at the time of our visit. The last photo is a painting I was lucky enough to buy from him. I hung it above the door to my studio as inspiration.
Overall the trip completely exceeded my expectations. It was a lot of fun to collaborate and experience as much as we did in a few short weeks. I’m looking forward to planning my next trip to France for us to do something similar in Europe! About half the pictures in this post were taken by Oakoak… the picture below included: a friend I made on the subway.