The London Police started in 1998 when big English geezers headed to Amsterdam to rejuvenate the visually disappointing streets of the drug capital of the world. The motive was to combine travelling and making art to create an amazing way of life. From 2002 onward TLP started sending missionaries into all corners of the globe. 2009 saw the return of Bob Gibson to The London Police after five years of touring with the band ‘MOSS’ and flipping burgers in a filthy Dutch snack bar.
And so the original founding members (Bob & Chaz) are re-embarking on their quest to combine making artwork and travelling the globe to better themselves and spread artistic love through the world. They recently celebrated 10 strong years in the art world and their work has graced streets and galleries in 35 countries during this time. The blueprint for their recent work was to produce solid back-to-basics black and white artworks collaborating the iconic LADS characters drawn by CHAZ with the tight architectural and illustrative landscapes of BOB GIBSON. Addict reunite with The London Police after their first Guest Artist release way back in 19??. Addict are proud to bring two exclusive designs, utilising these iconic characters and presenting them to you on our high quality Guest Artist tee.
“Never be scared, don't be a hero and let the good times roll” – The London Police
Let’s start at the very beginning…How did you guys become ‘The London Police’?
In the summer of 1998 bob and I formed TLP with the view to it being a crew we could build with other people and it would be an umbrella to create and show our artwork. We had booked a photography show in Bar Vinyl in Camden and that was the beginning.
You’ve been based in Amsterdam for a while now. What made you decide to make the move and why have you decided to stay there?
From the money we made from the first show we made a trip to Amsterdam and booked two more photography shows in cafes there. Bob returned to UK to finish university and I stayed in Amsterdam. With no money but plenty of time I ended up living in an abandoned house and drawing the LADS characters all over the walls. That’s when TLP transitioned from exhibiting photos to drawing our signature characters on the streets of Amsterdam. Bob joined again about a year later by which time I had progressed from living like a homeless junkie and TLP was starting to gather some notoriety for the work on the street.
Besides the obvious, how does it differ from London?
It’s very different from London from the scale of the city to the more liberal culture. The accessibility of the city by bike is a massive boon. As is the chance to smoke tasty varieties of hash and weed (unless you’re boring and stiff like Bob and would prefer to go out looking bisexual on a racing bike instead of hanging out with your mates)
Do you have any plans to return?
We have a Stolenspace show in April 2013 so providing those Mayan cunts were wrong and the world hasn’t ended we should be in London during the weeks/months previous. To actually live there again isn't in our plans but who knows what the future holds.
What is it about ‘The Lad’ character that has made him stand the test of time?
I think the character is simple and positive and has enough originality about it to make it identifiable over a lot of other characters. The mix of its abstract nature and common denominators of the smiley face and fat shoes lend it enough charm to have given it a place in the emergence of characters in street art.
How has your work developed over the years?
For many years the aim was not on development of the artwork but on the development of our way of life. The ability to use the character to allow traveling and seeing the world. The character has had subtle evolutions over the years that would be recognisable if you saw a chronological ‘year-by-year’ account and slowly the lines have become more clean and tight. Since Bob rejoined in 2009 we have focussed mostly on canvas work for galleries and that has seen an improvement and evolution of our ideas and backgrounds for the character. Bob builds a world for my LADS characters to live in.. Originally there were only the LAD and DOG characters. However, over the years I have developed LADIATORS, SHOEMAKERS, LADPOLES, LORSES, TRILADS all made up from the limited palette of shapes and all who live in the same world.
Who inspired you during the early stages of your work and who inspires you today?
In the beginning if I was specific I would say the characters of Mode 2, Doze Green and Roger Hargreaves. The emerging graff scene in 80’s England, the book ‘Spraycan Art’ and particularly the ERZ crew from Essex who were the leading crew in my town of Chelmsford when I was a young teenager. These days there’s too many to mention. So many great artists doing amazing things in different ways. We meet and see new people coming through all the time. We feel really fortunate to be in the mix somewhere.
You tend to stick with Black & white colours…do you prefer this to full colour pieces?
We did make some colour pieces for the New York show last December but usually we stick to black and white. It always looks so crisp. However, we don’t have plans to limit ourselves in the future. For now, though we are happy painting mostly in black and white.
You recently exhibited over in New York and L.A…how were the shows?
We exhibited in OPERA gallery New York last December and it was a truly memorable and amazing experience. We produced big works by hand with only pens so there was a huge build up of working for several months before the show. Friends and family came out and we lived it large in New York for a week.
Our LA show is in the COREY HELFORD gallery this October. It will be a dog themed show.
I went along to a group show at the Opera Gallery a while back where one of your canvases was on display. The amount of detail in it was amazing, how long does something like that usually take?
The bigger pieces take a few weeks depending on the size and the detail. All the black has to be double painted to get a real bold intense black.. A lot of times people don’t believe its hand painted. That’s our aim, to get the painting as tight and clean as possible.
You recently painted a mural on the streets of Newcastle. Do you have any plans to hit up more UK cities?
We would love to paint more murals everywhere but you need to be invited and a lot of the time there’s only small budgets. You need time, money and wall availability. To get all three isn’t easy. Unit 44 invited us to Newcastle and we paid to make that piece together with them. Just recently we had 3 days in Blackpool at our friend Robin Ross’ event. It rained solidly for 48 hours and then we managed to get something up in the last hours before we left. It was a shame because, obviously, with more time you can make a better piece but that’s how it goes with murals.
There are still a number of murals dating back to the early 2000s untouched. Does it surprise you that they’re still around?
A bit. You learn in this game that the lifespan of work on the street is unpredictable. It’s always an honour to see your work still running.
What can people expect to see from TLP in the future?
More solid canvasses, the release of our ‘dog songs’ album, films and videos. There are a lot of other projects we would like to do but for now we have to work full time on our paintings to pay all the bills. Living off our artwork is a dream but, of course, it would be amazing to create a bit more freedom to do other things.