AMA Street Art and Graffiti Expert

Brian Greif
May 12, 2018

Brian Greif the executive producer and subject of the award winning documentary "Saving Banksy" now on Netflix.  Brian is one of the world's top experts in "Street Art" and "Graffiti".  He has curated major gallery shows for artists including Blek Le Rat, Ben Eine, DFace, Herakut, Rone, Risk, Pure Evil, Daleast and Seen.   He has organized major mural projects across the United States and Canada.  If you are looking to buy street art, coordinate murals or just want to know the back story on the worlds top artists - there is no better expert.

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Conversation (75)

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How often do you go and explore new art?
May 18, 10:02PM EDT0

I look at art everyday.  It's my job.  I love seeing new artists and approaches to art.

May 19, 12:57PM EDT0
What kind of reaction do you want your art to evoke
May 18, 5:04PM EDT0

Again, I am not an artist.  I only facilitate projects for artists.  When we do murals, we want it to be a surprize for the public.  You walk around a corner and see an amazing painting, 70 feet tall, unexpected.  It doesn't matter what the style is.  We want people to stop, look, appreciate and then take and share photos.

May 19, 12:57PM EDT0
Do you ever think of graffiti as being costly for society?
May 18, 2:13PM EDT0

It costs money to remove illegal graffiti.  I understand that.  The reality is, form kids on the streets in places like New York or Los Angeles.. Graffiti is a way for them to develop an identity.  It's their way of being seen and develop a sense of self worth.  Graffiti crews actually keep street kids out of gangs.  Graffiti crews a surrogate familes for street kids.

May 18, 2:21PM EDT0
How do you organize your paintings? Do you do sketches before? Do you have any gestures, characteristics or paint habits?
May 18, 10:46AM EDT0

I am not an artist.  THe artists I work with have a variety of different approaches.  Some do sketches before they paint, many just paint spontaneously.  The techniques vary widly from artist to artist

May 18, 2:19PM EDT0
How can artists connect with you to showcase their work with you?
May 16, 10:02PM EDT0

Unfortunately, my roster is full right now.  I actively manage a dozen artists and work on projects with about two dozen others.  I am fully booked.  

May 17, 9:59AM EDT0

I'd love to hear your perspective on how street art plays a role in both developing tourism as well as gentrification...

May 16, 5:22PM EDT0

It definitely develops tourism.  Wynwood Walls in Miami started in a forgotten part of the city.  It is now one of the top tourist destinations in that city.  In Nashville, TN a couple of our murals are among the top ten most photographed locations by tourists.  It also does lead to gentrification.  Street art raises property values.  Wynwood in Miami uses to be a dangerous forgotten place.  It is now the hip center for clubs, galleries, restaurants etc.,

May 17, 9:58AM EDT0
Where do you exhibit the street art in Canada? Do you have a studio there?
May 16, 9:43AM EDT0

I am not an artist so I don't have a studio.  I am exhibiting Banksys Haight Street Rat in Toronto and Hamilton in June.

May 16, 10:19AM EDT0
What are your upcoming projects?
May 16, 7:20AM EDT0

I just finished curating a solo exhibit for Blek Le Rat in San Francisco at Weinstein Gallery.  I am currently editing My next Graffiti Documentary.  I will be in Canada in June to exhibit Banksy Haight Street Rat in Toronto and Hamilton Ontario.  I am also working on a mural for Faith47 in San Francisco

May 16, 10:18AM EDT0
When you are going on a trip, what do you take in your suitcase?
May 15, 4:27AM EDT0


May 15, 9:37AM EDT0
Does your vision of graffiti changed over time? In which direction do you want to change your style?
May 15, 3:03AM EDT0

I am not an artist.  I work with artists coordinating projects.  All artists evolve over time.  The exception might be graffiti artists.  The rules of the graffiti world are interesting,  Their style remains consistent on the street.  They do evlove and change what they do in their studios.

May 15, 10:09AM EDT0
How do you feel about the engagement of the corporate world with graffiti writers and street artists?
May 14, 5:32PM EDT0

It's good if it's done properly.  We would with corporate sponsors on a lot of projects.  They provide funding to make projects happen, but are not allowed to influence the design.  We do not allow logos or corporate mentions in murals or other art.  Corporate funding allows artists to do more and earn a good living.  Many street and graffiti artists work with corporations now.  It's not a bad thing.  

May 14, 5:36PM EDT0
How does street the artists deal with copyright issues?
May 14, 4:46AM EDT0

We make sure all murals we do are copyright protected.  That said, there have been recent lawsuits where artists have won judgements or stopped businesses from commercializing their street work, even if it isn't copyright protected.  Revok was recently able to stop H&M from using his graffiti images.

May 14, 10:10AM EDT0
How is the current street art scene in Nashville?
May 14, 12:30AM EDT0

Its very good.  New legal murals going up every week.  Lots of very talented local artists.  Chris Zidek, Nathan Brown, Jon Buko, Brian Wooden, Audie Adams, Mobe Oner, Tess Erlenborn, Emily Miller are a few of the very talents artists here.

May 14, 10:07AM EDT0
What street artist has the most curious back story in your opinion?
May 13, 4:48PM EDT0

There are lots of interesting back stories.  I could write for days about the life and stories of street and graffiti artists.  We have two new documentaries in production now about the back stories and history of different artists.  Risk has a very interesting backstory.  He started writing graffiti in LA very early.  He was the first person to write on billboards and highway over pass signs.  He coined the term "going to the heavens"  which means going to the highest and most dangerous places to paint.  He has been shot once, stabbed twice and shot at multiple times doing graffiti.  He battled gangs and many other dangerous situations to help found the west coast graffiti scene.

Last edited @ May 14, 10:11AM EDT.
May 14, 10:05AM EDT0
Can you share more info on the Nashville Walls Project? Is it still going on?
May 13, 1:50PM EDT0

Nashville Walls Project was something I started with Eva Boros in 2015 to bring street art to a different part of the US,  since 2016 we have curated over 40 murals by local and international artists. We just completed a massive project with nine local artists,  we also did a project recently for Kieth Urban's album release party. We are hoping to bring new international artists to Nashville layer this year.

May 13, 2:17PM EDT0
Would you say that street art is made to last or is it temporary?
May 13, 12:15PM EDT0

All street and graffiti artists want their outdoor work to last as long as possible.  That said, nothing outside lasts for ever.  Building get torn down.  Walls get repainted.  I personally believe people should appreciate and keep street art as long as possible.

May 13, 12:25PM EDT0
What would you say to people that consider street art vandalism?
May 13, 11:44AM EDT0

I understand that feeling.  I simply ask them to consider the artistic value of what these artists do.  That was the message of my movie "Saving Banksy".

May 13, 12:23PM EDT0
What is your favorite street artist/artwork and why?
May 13, 11:19AM EDT0

I don't have a favorite.  There are artists I really enjoy working with. Specifically, Blek Le Rat, Guido Van Helten, Above, Daleast, Faith47 and Risk.

May 13, 12:22PM EDT0
Who are some major street artists in the world? Do you know any of them?
May 13, 11:12AM EDT0

I have been fortunate to work with some of the top international artists.  I have worked with Blek Le Rat, Logan Hicks, Swoon, Risk, Pure Evil, Guido Van Helten, Herakut, Daleast, Faith47, Ben Eine are a few of the artists I have worked with.

May 13, 12:21PM EDT0
What was the most challenging part of doing a documentary?
May 13, 7:45AM EDT0

The editing process.  When you do a regular film, you write a script, story board the movie and then shoot each scene in sequence.  You cannot do that with a documentary.  To produce a doc, you shoot as much material as possible.  You then sift through hundreds of hours of material to find the right sequence.  Its like putting together a giant puzzle.. Constantly moving pieces around until everything fits.

May 13, 10:27AM EDT0
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