Even among a digital landscape filled with art and design blogs, StreetArtNews has carved out a unique spot as the ultimate source for all things street art. Launched in 2009 by Rom Levy, the website caters to “art geeks” who love all things creative and urban, from murals to installations to graffiti. StreetArtNews not only features artists like Banksy and Nick Walker, but also publishes lifestyle coverage, exhibition reviews, retrospectives, videos, Q&A's, and more.
Now with over 168,000 likes on Facebook, 45,000 Twitter followers, and 432,000 fans on Instagram, StreetArtNews is a true authority and a force to be reckoned with in the street art world. We had the chance to ask Levy, the founder and editor-in-chief, about the site's beginnings and current success. Scroll down to read our exclusive interview with a fantastic content curator.
Tell us more about StreetArtNews. Why did you start it and what did you hope to achieve?
The website was started back in 2009 by “mistake.” It was a cold winter evening, and I was rather bored at home. I figured that since I was spending a lot of time looking and searching for the latest murals and artists online, I should just put them all in one webpage so it would save some time for a few other enthusiasts. Little did I imagine the impact and growth that StreetArtNews would have at that point.
How long did it take before the site became your main focus and business?
I used to be a fashion designer at that time; it quickly shifted from fashion to art within a year or so from the website's beginning. In terms of business, within two years I had enough contacts and credibility to create my first projects around urban art, including exhibitions, festivals, or printmaking.
What do you think sets StreetArtNews apart from other art- and design-related websites?
I would say what sets us apart is probably how quickly we try to get things up on the site; it's always been, for us, a great motivation to be first to publish a story. We do not do large texts, critiques, or analysis; we just present the work, and it's up to our readers to decide what they think of it.
And I'm not only just an editor. I've been living, eating, and simply having fun with my friends while working and setting up projects illegally on the streets, crawling under the catacombs of Paris, traveling around China, and much more just for the thrill of getting a wall painted. This gave StreetArtNews an invaluable connection to the streets, on top of incredible documentation, which clearly has set us apart from the other art and design websites.
What's been your biggest challenge and your greatest accomplishment when it comes to the site?
The biggest challenge has been to keep an edge in terms of news and articles, and to renew ourselves with new categories such as the “Retrospective” feature we launched earlier this year.
The greatest accomplishment for me has been that we have been able to spread the arts to remote areas that do not have the chance to see street art as we do in London, New York, or LA. In a way, I always wanted to publish posts on the new walls as quickly as possible to give our readers the impression that they were behind the artist as he was painting, and in a way, give them the feeling that they could almost smell the fumes from the spray paint.
Who are some of your favorite street artists?
From my personal point of view, I've been a big fan of, just to name a few, Borondo, Invader, Paul Insect, Todd James, Word To Mother, and Alexis Diaz. They all have very different techniques and backgrounds, which in a way represents a broad spectrum of street art–just like StreetArtNews is trying to do.
What are some trends in urban contemporary art you've noticed lately, and do you have any predictions for the near future?
The biggest trend we noticed in the last few years is the emergence of urban art festivals, which have popped up massively all over the world. These festivals would commission artists to do walls, etc., which no longer makes street art “unsanctioned art” and, in a way, loses the beauty of street art.
A lot of artists have been focusing and creating aesthetically-pleasing pieces, but a conceptual substance behind these pieces has been missing. I personally think that street art, just like contemporary art, should be more unique by having more of a research-based element to it. This way, street art could detach itself away from being under the umbrella of decorative art. Some of these guys are very talented and may make it to the contemporary art world, they just need to work on the conceptual theory and background of their work more.
I personally believe the idea of street art is becoming obsolete and almost merging with the contemporary art world. Street art will be just be another era/slice of the history of art.
I also hope that some of the artists will try go back to the roots by traveling by themselves and creating independent projects that matter for the arts. As an isolated example, I recall C215, back in 2008, traveling by himself to India, where he created some amazing pieces. This wasn't sponsored by anything, but it was just himself, and it was beautiful to see.
The internet landscape has changed a lot since 2009. What are your thoughts on content curation now compared to seven years ago?
It has indeed changed a lot. Content curation turned into a social-based model, with users sharing the content they like and making their own curation. In our age, everyone is flooded with information, movies, pictures, and music, so only the best stuff gets really popular. This drastically changed the way marketing and such are made, as users no longer rely on agencies to curate the content for them. We are now living in an instant society where imagery has a more solid impact than content.
What are some of your favorite creative sites?
Do you have any advice for anyone who's looking to get into blogging as a career?
I would just say one thing: if you are passionate about what you do, and you do it with your heart before thinking of it as a career, then you have a good chance of succeeding.
Lastly, what's next for you and StreetArtNews?
I'm working on some pretty exciting exhibitions in London and the Middle East (Dubai/Iran) and a series of limited-edition prints with our studio in Italy, but I'll be able to share more details with you in the future.
Concerning the site, we are working on building a bunch of new features into StreetArtNews that will hopefully be enjoyed by our readers. Oh, and we may be going to print sometime soon 😉
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Rom! We can't wait to see what you have in store for us in the future. In the meantime, be sure to follow StreetArtNews' blog and its presence on social media, listed below.
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