The London Police have gained worldwide recognition in recent years; riding the wave of street art success and notoriety after being part of a new art movement at the end of the last century. They are about to embark on their 20th Anniversary of creating art together.
In 1998, "Deputy Directors" Chaz Barrison and Bob Gibson who founded The London Police, decided to leave their current city of London. They set out to conquer Amsterdam, and beautify the disappointing streets of the drug capital of the world. It needed the chipper characters and illustrative landscapes that TLP embody in their collective work.
From there on, they built their dream squad of traveling Lieutenants, Sergeants and Agents to assist in a worldwide visual take-over. Since 2002, they've covered public spaces and galleries in cities such as Basel, London, Brussels, Barcelona, Berlin, Milan, Copenhagen, Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires, Denver, Miami and Los Angeles.
Chaz draws the iconic smiling ‘LAD’ characters, while Bob creates tight portraits and big city architectural illustrations. Depending on the size and scale, other Officers assist in the collaborative production. Every piece is handmade with no stencils, which is barely noticeable because of their absolutely perfect lines and flawless circles. In addition to painting and drawing, high and low; TLP also creates work in music, short films, photography, and installation projects.
The growing global appreciation for, and evolution of graffiti has made a place for these sort of Officers of public art. Their endearing interactions and engagement with visitors walking by is considered official police business! When it comes to these English Geezers, they embody the phrase "whistle while you work". As opposed to performance art, its more of a good time comedy show, in addition to the main event: a fresh, whimsically futuristic mural.
It was Summer '16 when I had my first encounter with the squad. They were on my home turf, and out of their own jurisdiction. TLP were in NYC to paint a pair of mechanical mermaids trimmed by the cast of the The Warriors, for the 2nd Annual installment of the Coney Art Walls project in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
I kept my distance, and didn't introduce myself. My friend was visiting me from our hometown, and I didn't want my excitement to overshadow our time together.
We sat and ate our Nathan's Famous french fries at a nearby table. Watching TLP as they worked away that Summer afternoon, the sun started to set over the Atlantic.
This past September, I really got to observe, and participate in what The London Police bring to their walls. What they bring to their art, their life, and the people they interact with everyday.
Sold Magazine was on hand for the week of The Crush Walls Art Festival '17 in Denver, CO. We covered the event daily, and have more stories to be posted soon. While Keith had the opportunity to capture the above video, with great candid moments, the policemen became a part of my daily routine.
I arrived with the crew Monday night. The next morning while most walls were still being buffed, we found TLP already getting started. Between Walnut and Blake (btwn 28th/29th in the RiNo District), we found a construction site, a new residential building being added to the rapidly growing neighborhood. This would become a very special alley that week, with a long collaboration with TLP, Mr. June and Bristol's own Inkie.
Each artist working in the alley was asked to wear neon yellow CRUSH t-shirts, to be visible while construction continued around them. Throughout the festival, these t's were increasingly altered by the squad; either decorating hats, cut into half shirts, pseudo vest, bandanas and headbands.
The Proclaimers were blaring through a wireless speaker, and I'm Gonna Be (5,000 Miles) was bringing back every good memory from '93. As we made our daily rounds, I looked forward to their progress, but also a place I'd find comic relief. As Bytegirl and I came upon the squad, Officer Doug called out, "Oh, Here comes Trouble 1 and Trouble 2!"
"Who me?" I didn't mind being included in the joke, and maybe it forced my mischievous hand. I placed a sticker of my likeness across the alley way, and wondered if they would notice it the next day....
Observant blokes as they are, the next morning they called me out. "Hey little lady, the police were out here looking for you, and we mean the real police!", I winked. And the next day it continued... "They want to have a word with the young lady in this sticker right here!"
Despite their jest, I think they dug my sticker. Not only did they add-on to my tag, with painted bricks and stick figures; but on the last day of the Festival, I went back for final shots. Hoxxoh had also added to our little Denver collaboration!
Thank you to The London Police for a second great memory; a fun week of “Mile High” laughs, Stem Ciders, Buff Monster impressions, dancing everywhere, and of course, amazing street art! As the policemen would say, "Never be scared, don't be a hero, and let the good times roll!"