Half Empty, Since 1998

“In nine cases out of ten, we’ve taken on gratis work with organizations whose thoughts paralleled our own, and turned down projects offering money but whose goals or intent we didn’t feel an affinity toward. “

Commissioning Street Art: The London Police

Garrett Chow, Wooster Collective. April 4th, 2004

Mural by Garrett Chow/The London Police

Mural by Garrett Chow/The London Police

WOOSTER COLLECTIVE: So what’s been your criteria for taking on a commission? What elements need to be in place before you’ll commit to a project?

GARRETT CHOW/THE LONDON POLICE: All of our members have until recently held down “day jobs” in addition to the work we do as TLP. Money from TLP projects has always been supplemental to the funds we earned from our other gigs so the criteria against which we made, and continue to make, decisions about working with any given organization are based on whether their ideals, mores, and attitudes are aligned with ours, rather than if the money they were offering was good. In nine cases out of ten, we’ve taken on gratis work with organizations whose thoughts paralleled our own, and turned down projects offering money but whose goals or intent we didn’t feel an affinity toward. A residual benefit of this is that it often affords us the opportunities to partner and connect with other altruistic and unique groups with projects of similar natures and money.

WOOSTER: So are there brands that you would love to work with?

CHOW: Although we tend not to involve politics with our work, we are three strongly opinionated and impassioned individuals with three equally unique sets of ideals. We’d love to do work with groups like Greenpeace or PETA.

WOOSTER: As an artist, looking at work that has been done recently, are there examples where you thought a commission worked really well? Examples where it didn’t?

CHOW: From what we understand, the Altoids project in Williamsburg was a great instance of an artist/benefactor relationship succeeding. That there was no overt or imposed advertising on Altoids’ part, and that the artists involved benefited from positive coverage and exposure and an opportunity to do what they do best, are paramount aspects of a positive symbiosis between artists and a commercial entity.

WOOSTER: What advice would you give to other artists who are approached by brands for commissions?

CHOW: We’d advise people to let the California side of yourself come to the fore: think of your art as your baby – the innumerable hours spent cultivating, nurturing, protecting and otherwise growing will go to waste in a heartbeat if your child begins to hang or associate with the “wrong people.” It’s a parent’s duty and moral obligation to want the best for her child, and to see that person become the best they are able to.


Commissioning Street Art

(Included in Half Empty #2)