Billed as Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival, Upfest is a celebration of Bristol’s diverse and eclectic urban art scene. It takes place in and around Bedminster over three days from this Saturday 23rd July, with some of the finest and most talented artists from Bristol, the UK and further afield in attendance.
The festival has grown year on year from its inception eight years ago. 500 visitors came to see 50 skilled street artists at work at the first outing in 2008. By 2015, those figures had swollen to 30,000 visitors and 300 artists — turning our city into one enormous canvas of colour. Even today, almost a year later, you can still see artworks from previous years’ festivals on the walls of Bristol.
Upfest 2016 is just around the corner and the stage is set for a fresh new paint-job, so here’s a little insight into a few of the artists to look out for. You’ll find big names from Bristol alongside others you may not have heard of. Look out for these guys and gals at work on their walls, or simply stroll among the various venues and soak up the festival atmosphere. Cheers then!
A Bristol-based artist and fashion designer, Gemma works with a broad range of materials from cloth to concrete. With a love of nature, a fondness for the countryside and a keen eye for detail, she’s one to watch out for. If you’d like a taster of her work in advance of the festival, check out the Upfest flyer or visit the shop on North Street, Bristol — she decorated both.
Daniel is a German-born artist from Aachen, who began his artistic career as an illustrator before falling for the thrill of the spray-can. He’s presented his work in exhibitions and projects across Europe, published books and started a career as a digital visualizer in the Netherlands. Daniel is a bold experimenter who has worked on surfaces of all kinds, but for him, Upfest represents a return to his roots.
Sepr has painted and exhibited across the globe, from the U.S. and Mexico all the way to Australia. A member of the KTF & ASK crews, Sepr is a Bristol painter known for his character-based art and unique style.
GOIN is a French artist associated with the Abode of Chaos, a contemporary art museum and ‘replica war zone’ nestled in an otherwise peaceful village outside Lyon. With advanced stencil skills and an anarchic outlook, GOIN is a talented artist who paints to get you thinking.
Daniela employs spray paint, acrylic, pen and ink to create striking images around diverse themes including politics and feminism. Inspired by the street art she sees around her right here in Bristol, Daniela depicts the human body in all its power and fragility.
With diverse bird and animal life in sharp decline, ATM is a street artist on a mission. He paints images of species whose numbers are falling fastest, highlighting their plight and reminding us all of their natural beauty. The goal is to encourage people to help protect birds and other wildlife from further decline.
Cheo is a Brizzle lad, and one of the city’s best-known artists-in-residence. His colourful palette and comic-book approach mark him out as an artist of distinction, and his work is among Bristol’s most recognisable and enjoyable. He’s painted everything from refuse skips to skateboards, with his trade-mark bumble bee never far behind.
Cheo collaborated with Upfest this year to mark the Mr Men Little Miss’ 45th anniversary celebrations. He created Mr Graff — the newest and coolest of all the Mr Men characters — who you’ll spot in his signature red cap on the streets of Bedminster soon!
Cosmo Sarson is the man behind Bristol’s own ‘Breakdancing Jesus’ — a talented and experienced artist with a strong portfolio of eye-catching work. He last painted at Upfest in 2011 and created the world’s first ‘interactive mural’ for the Olympic Arts Trail in 2012.
Zina is a freelance artist and illustrator, born in Norway and based in London. With varied themes including mythology, ancient history and the mystic world to fuel her lively imagination, Zina draws on diverse ethnic cultures in her work.
Born in Trencin, Slovakia, Zase has been part of his local art and graffiti scene since the mid-nineties. In a place where the street art scene was low-key and lacking, Zase felt inspired to push himself and develop his skills. Now a well-established artist in his own right, Zase travels the world collaborating with diverse talents in a broad range of formats.
NACOA + Upfest
Aside from showcasing amazing street art, Upfest has a second key aim; to shine a light on the important work of NACOA — the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. Obviously a worthy cause, and one many people perhaps feel doesn’t get the attention it should.
The festival brings together a whole host of talented Djs and bands, beatboxers, dancers, and workshops where budding artists of all ages can learn new skills. You’ll find affordable artwork for sale, and plenty to eat and drink as you explore the bars, galleries and walls of Bedminster.
Roll on Saturday… Enjoy!
Produced with help from @Upfest.
An in-depth look at the artists attending this year’s Upfest. http://www.upfest.co.uk/artist
A full map of the festival site. http://www.upfest.co.uk/uploads/upfest_2016_map.pdf