Legendary graffiti artist Inkie aka Tom Bingle teamed up with Major League Baseball (MLB) at this year’s Bread and Butter fashion trade show in Berlin. Fans of the artist were lucky enough to get special customised MLB clothing and merchandise which ranged from trainers emblazoned with Inkie’s signature artwork to bats baring his iconic scrawl. When asked why Inkie wanted to collaborate with the brand he explained “I have worked with the guys [at MLB] before. I like their brand awareness and eye for the street. Also, I thought painting baseball bats would be pretty cool” The change of medium was another reason the artist was keen to get involved, “I like working my art to fit new objects. The challenge is very appealing”.
Having picked up the spray when he was barely a teenager, there is no doubt that Inkie will always be considered one of the original founding fathers of the UK street art movement. Influenced by American Bronx-based collective, Bio TATs Cru, he describes his own style as “New York classic ‘wildstyle’ meets art nouveau”. His career spans over two decades and Inkie has truly seen and done it all. “The main change I have seen in my 25 years of street painting has been the switch from a hip hop based graffiti scene to the more icon /logo based street at scene”. But never one to get fazed or bogged down by nostalgia, Inkie has embraced the evolution of the art form he knows and loves with an open mind. But does he believe the acceptance of street art as part of mainstream art forms dilutes the true essence and spirit of what street art is actually all about? “I think it has taken away its rawness, but it has also propelled the work forward. Artists can now make bigger projects come to life, which would have been impossible before”.
2013 looks like it will be as busy as ever for Inkie, with several projects in the pipeline in Mumbai, Ibiza, Barcelona and Istanbul, and several more to follow he’s as in demand as he’s ever been. But never one to forget his beloved Bristol roots, the artist states “For me Bristol is one of the best creative melting pots in the UK”, adding that his aim for this year is to keep travelling, see new inspirations and keep drawing. And his advice to young artists coming up? “Paint, draw, network and never be afraid of a challenge. If you only get half done, it’s better than not starting something”. His final wise words are a sentiment most people live and die by, or at the very least can identify with, “You can never stop being creative.”