Frankis Shea is the young and proud director of Artsper partner Moniker Art Fair, one of the three art events that takes over London in October. Launched in 2010, Moniker shows the international scope of street art and beyond inside the Old Truman Brewery and attracts almost 15,000 ! Artsper has interviewed this visionary entrepreneur to learn about his project.
Artsper: Can you tell us about Moniker Art Fair: it started with the frustration of not being able to break into the art fair world, why was it so?
Frankie Shea: It was a fair born out of protest against the elitism and exclusivity of the
more traditional London art fairs of the time. I was running a gallery and representing several artists within the street art genre with great success. The artists had strong markets, both primary and secondary and I was keen to secure them wider exposure but could not break into the UK art circuit. So in keeping with the ‘do it yourself ’ street art ethos, I started our own fair with like minded gallerists. This was back in 2010 and now we are a permanent fixture during London’s art week and the only fair that shows art with roots embedded in urban culture.
Artsper: What was the most challenging part of founding your own fair?
Frankie Shea: A lot. The most challenging aspect was finding a team you can count on and how the hell we would make it financially viable.
At the very beginning it was just an idea that I was sounding out amongst artists and galleries, albeit enthusiastically. The feedback was strong and rumours circulated and then a small news article in a national art press came out announcing that a new art fair would be coming to London called Moniker. When I read that, I thought, God … now there’s definitely no turning back! So we decided that we’d use the moto ‘build it and they will come’ and thats what we did
Artsper: Your fair specializes in urban art: is London a particularly dynamic environment for this genre?
Frankie Shea: London is known internationally for urban art, especially in the Shoreditch area where our fair is located. And when we started, there was some amazing street art out there and most of it illegal too. Now the majority of it is a total ‘legal’ mess.
Artsper: I heard your favorite urban artist is the duo Herakut, will it be showcased during this year’s edition? Who are the other artists of your top 3?
Frankie Shea: I managed Herakut for some years and gave them their 1st Solo shows and produced their 1st prints. They won’t be participating in this years fair but I hope to be working with them again in the future. Apart from Herakut, I’m a collector of KAWS, Faith47 and Ben Eine amongst many others.
Artsper: You organized MONIKER during Frieze week, isn’t it complicated to attract collectors with all the events revolving around the fair?
Frankie Shea: We intentionally wanted to coincide with Frieze week, with the aim of taking advantage of the thousands of art fans and collectors that decend to London. Our mission was to spotlight the emerging and established talent that we have worked alongside with for over a decade and there is no better time than showcasing their works during Londons most important art week. Moniker Art Fair has become firmly established as one of the must see satellite events during Frieze week.
Artsper: Some say that urban/ graffiti art taken out of the street loses its purpose, what do you think about it?
Frankie Shea: Street artists are not limited to the streets. Many artists have a street style and gallery style. But fist and foremost they are artists and can paint whatever they like on whatever they like. It’s a contemporary art movement forged by its subversive and innovative spirit and do it yourself attitude.
We’ve not really ever sought permission. If people like it, they will buy it and street art has been one of the biggest movements in recent art history. Often people think street art is just two colour stencils and political slurs, especially among the art elite in the UK, but it’s much more diverse than that. People like it, get it and buy it on a regular basis and those collectors have an important role in developing an artists career.
There are some great 2 colour Stencils out there too!
Artsper: You often commission specific pieces for the fair: is there a highlight of this year’s edition?
Frankie Shea: Moniker Projects is known for curating and producing installations weather this be for the art fair, brand campains, exhibitions or public art. It’s something we love to do. Expect our 50ft Bitcoin inspired installation to be one of the highlights of this years edition.
Artsper: What do you think about Artsper’s concept of selling art on internet in order to reach a wider audience? Do you think it is a relevant concept for urban art?
Frankie Shea: Urban art/street art/ urban contemporary, call it what you will, has flourished due to the internet. The practiotiners force their work into public realms. Most artists have not depended on government funded money or art council donations to get them where they are today. Although this is changing rapidly as the powers that be, now recogise how popular the movement is. Not everyone quite gets some of the absurd contemporary art that we’re told is great art and most certainly wouldn’t want it in their living room. Maybe this is the key to our success. We exhibit and sell art that people actually like, understand and would like to own a piece of for their walls.