Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Chewing Gum Artist Vs The Admen

We saw pavement artist Ben Wilson – better known as the chewing gum man – in action today, painting a mini-masterpiece on a piece of trodden chewing gum on the pavement near the Marquis of Granby pub (where some of Peeping Tom was filmed) in Fitzrovia. Ben has been painting scenes on old discarded chewing gum for quite a few years, completing around 10,000 pictures around London and has became something of a minor celebrity.

We are joined by an 'adman', drinking outside the pub too (there are lots of advertising agencies in the area), who introduces himself and seems quite excited to meet Ben. The adman, looking like a badly dressed middle-aged American tourist, tells Ben he'd recently done a presentation about him (in the ad agency someone gives a monthly presentation about some cultural phenomena). Ben appears nonplussed. We're then joined by a young hipster with a stupid haircut and turned up tight jeans. The middle-aged adman immediately recognises him as a kindred spirit. 'Are you an adman too?' he asks. Hipster answers an enthusiastic 'Yes I am!' For a minute I forget which century we're in.

Then Ben, wisely, goes on his way.

The two admen waste no time and start discussing ways to exploit and commercialise Ben's works. 'He's just too pure, he's not interested in being commercial.'
'But the potential's there, we could do anything. We could put his pictures on… T-shirts, mugs, badges… the sky's the limit.'
I've worked with admen before, but these guys, they had vision. When they get an idea, they run with it.
We move away, but eventually see the young adman join his mother and sisters. What a hip hipster he was too.

There's some nice photos of Ben's chewing gum paintings on this Flickr set.

Previously on Barnflakes:
The New Shape


Anonymous said...

Now look hear, it take years of dressing like a hippster and studying the arts of talking pretentious nonsense and plagarising before one can get a stupid haircut and declare oneself to be 'in advertising'. Years of dedicated study in fact. Once we have qualified, we are without doubt superior human beings. Secretly, you may aspire to be like us, but you'll never manage it. I'll personally see to it!

The Adman

Barnaby said...

I do aspire. Teach me, wise one.