Last weekend was an exciting one for fans of street art, toys, comics and art in general, as it was the inaugural edition of a brand new convention, the Five Points Festival! I had the opportunity to be there both days covering the festival, and was quite pleased with the experience. For those familiar with New York Comic Con, this closely resembled The Block portion of NYCC. Lots of art, artists, vinyl figures, and creativity, without the overwhelming crowds that are synonymous with NYCC. The festival was produced in conjunction with Clutter Magazine, The L.I.S.A. Project, and Midtown Comics who united together to present two days full of everything from graffiti artists, street artists, comic artists, toy artists & designers, prints, pins, all kinds of apparel, some food trucks, craft beer, and a few thousand excited fans making for an amazing kickoff to what hopefully becomes an annual event!
Many are familiar with the L.I.S.A Project, a non profit organization that hosts many artists & invites them to paint murals in Little Italy. Artists such as Tristan Eaton, Ron English, Buff Monster, and various others, have worked with them. This time L.I.S.A. Project brought in street artist & animator Kano to paint an official mural for the festival. They were responsible for bringing in the street art aspect of the festival. Artists this year included Chris RWK, Turtlecaps, Miss Zukie, Jcorp, Vers, Plasma Slug, Skull Wizard, as well as the aforementioned Ron English, Buff Monster and Kano. Wayne, L.I.S.A. Project founder, was happy to be involved in this undertaking, as he told me that this was something new and exciting that hadn't been done on this scale before, and I'm inclined to agree! There was definitely a unique vibe and appeal to Five Points Fest!
Chris RWK of Robots Will Kill was on hand with artist Kano at the Boundless Brooklyn booth. For those in the know, Chris is one of the coolest guys around, and has been a staple of the NYC art scene for years now. I asked the much respected artist what his thoughts on the festival were...
"Being the first year, you never know what to expect. I thought this was a great start. There was a consistent flow of people. I sold lots of original work and merchandise. I saw old friends and made some new ones. I'm excited to see 5 Points Fest expand in future years, hopefully bringing in more styles of artists and helping to mix the different scenes"
Sharing a booth were the dynamic duo of J-Corp & Miss Zukie. These dope ladies had lots of rad merchandise for sale and it was a pleasure to speak with them! Miss Zukie has done NYCC for several years now, so I wanted to know her thoughts on this convention in relation to others she has done in the past...
"I'm basically excited to do another convention/fest because while the west coast has a variety of them, all we really have here is New York Comic Con, so this was exciting. It's very cool to have something new, with a street art and graffiti feel to it. It was also dope to meet artists that i was aware of, but didn't know personally, to put a face to, for example, Plasma Slug, he's awesome, hardcore awesome!" "J-Corp & myself are doing really well selling things too, we're killing it! I definitely plan to be here next year!"
While Zukie is a convention veteran, her partner in crime actually is a convention rookie! She had this to say of the experience...
"I've done smaller tables before, like at The LoMan Art Festival and Sticker Social Club, but this is my first time having a booth at something like this. This is totally new to me, working with Clutter, having a new toy brand, everything is so exciting! My new toy is Boo the Unicorn, making his world debut here at Five Points! Each one is 3D printed in Belgium, and hand painted by myself. They've actually been selling very well, which has made my weekend! Keep an eye out for Boo in my upcoming murals this summer!"
Turtlecaps is a talented artist hailing from Queens, who started out writing graff and has moved into a variety of other styles, encompassing everything from murals to hand crafted toys to wheatpastes and stickers. When asked what enticed him to participate in the event he responded, " I had been working on a multitude of other projects, and wouldn't have known about it if not for Chris RWK's recommendation that i look into it. Upon doing so i realized that the uniquely diverse mix of designer toys and art was right up my alley. For the past year I've been dabbling in the world of resin and 3D printing, bringing my TurtleCaps character to life, so this was the perfect platform to showcase what I've been working on."
I also inquired as to his overall opinion of the festival and how he'd like to see it expand in the future.
"For its debut year, i thought it was a great success and I look forward to participating in next years event. I would have liked to have seen a larger street art presence, but moving forward that is something the event organizers can build on. The venue, the crowd turnout, and participating vendors all made it a weekend to remember! Kudos to all involved, you'll definitely see TurtleCaps there again!"
Nick C Kirk hails from Texas, but has made NYC his home. He debuted his very first custom action figure at Five Points, Buffa Fett, a cool homage to Star Wars and also the famous graff spot that this festival shares a name with, 5 Pointz. When asked about his opinion of the festival, Nick had the following to say...
"I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Walking around and really seeing what everyone brought to the table, through row after row of amazing talent, it just puts a smile on your face. Everything from realistic drawings and fine art, to comics and custom designer toys and sculpture, to graff and street art, to stickers and pins, Five Points Fest had it all. I'm happy to be part of a show like this because I'm pretty versatile, working in a variety of mediums and I could bring a bit of it all and fit in just fine. See ya next year!"
Buff Monster, who usually doesn't do conventions, made a rare appearance. When asked what brought him here, he mentioned that he was there to promote the launch of his brand new website, StayMelty.com and the new line of Heladitos trading cards which are the newest iteration of his popular Melty Misfits series of cards.
I spoke briefly with Killer Acid, who makes totally trippy art, including enamel pins, posters, clothing and more. He shared a booth here with artist Wizard Skull.His thoughts on the festival...
"I think for a first time event it's been really, really positive! For me personally it's very different from what I'm used to, as I usually do smaller zine and artbook based events. I've never actually made a toy in my life, but it's in the works! It's a great mix here, of DIY artists, graffiti artists, toymakers, from all over, and then the more mainstream stuff as well...it's really cool, i think it's a really cool blend!"
Even some celebrities were sighted at the festival, as I ran into and had a chance to speak with Ming Chen, of television's Comic Book Men. As a friend of Kevin Smith and comic collector himself, Ming is no stranger to conventions. He told me that he was there to visit a friend and was pleasantly surprised at just how good the convention turned out. He was excited to see all the art and definitely impressed by all the artists he saw, many of which were new to him. He was very friendly and seemed to be having a great time, and was even spotted chilling at the official afterparty as well. The highlight of said afterparty had to be a performance by legendary NYC rap duo The Beatnuts! Although Lamour Supreme live painting in an art battle wasn't too shabby either!
Midtown Comics were a sponsor, and i was happy to see they even had a couple of my personal favorites, Rick & Morty and Invader Zim comic books! There were also many comic artists involved at the festival selling original art and sketches. Some of the creators included Bryan Lee O'Malley, Greg Capullo, and Scott Snyder, all of which are well established within the comic industry. Publishers DC Comics had a large presence there as well.
There was a heavy toy presence also, as Kid Robot, Ron English, My Plastic Heart, PIQ and many smaller indie toy designers were at the event. Even the infamous Sucklord was at the show with his uniquely odd yet dope toys!
Oh, and there was some cosplay also....
So at the end of the day, I would definitely say that the initial showing from Five Points Fest was a huge success, as it offered something for everyone with the eclectic offering of art styles on display. The sheer multitude of art and artists was something I very much appreciated seeing. I saw a plethora of dope things and met many cool people. Thanks go out to all involved, as myself and pretty much everyone I spoke with had an amazing time. I know I'm not alone in looking forward to attending next years edition.