ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: SHELBYxSTUDIOS


INSTA // https://www.instagram.com/shelbyxstudios/ WEBSITE // https://www.shelbyxstudios.com/ GRACE KRESS, the founder of Shelby X Studios, which merges art and activism to build community, create educational resources and share accessible information that counters harmful mainstream narratives. In order to dismantle systems of oppression we need to be able to imagine a world without them - Shelby x Studios helps us to help us envisage what that world looks like. Inspired by artivists such as Sylvia Pankhurst, Frida Kahlo and Emory Douglas, we use creativity to strengthen revolutionary culture. Working with groups such as Justice for Grenfell, Women Against Rape, Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism and the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Defense Campaign UK, we have created a wide range of campaign materials including posters, flyers, badges, banners and clothing. We are launching a new art x activism e-zine in January 2021 and will be commissioning artists to create accessible, educational and motivational content.

KOLLECTION Shelby X Studios is all about creating revolutionary culture that supports and develops social justice work. One of the ways we do this is by recognising the incredible revolutionaries that came before us, honouring their legacy and spreading the important messages they taught us. These quotes from Frida Kahlo, Tupac Shakur and Che Guevara are the positive motivation we all need.

This collection is dedicated to all the grassroots revolutionaries, out in the streets and online pushing for social justice! Our products are packed with vibrant colours, spreading uplifting messages through graphic design and illustration. All profits from this range will go directly to supporting our art x activism work. Your purchases not only help us create artwork in solidarity with grassroots campaigns but also to commission artists to create educational, accessible and motivational artwork for our monthly e-zine.

ARTIST Q&A - WHAT INSPIRED YOUR CREATIVE JOURNEY? I was raised by activists in a communal house and was always drawn the creativity even as a kid. I used to draw on placards and create banners for protests with my family and their comrades. As a teenager I spent a lot of time working on the free Mumia Abu-Jamal campaign. We needed banners, flyers, event posters, things like that, so I kind of fell into the role of designer. I also volunteered as a designer at Women Against Rape whilst at college, working to communicate data and information in a visual way, which had an impact on the type of design I became drawn to. I've worked on a lot of visuals for a variety of organisations and individuals. During each of them, I've witnessed the power of art in engaging people. People seem to really respond to information presented through creative means, so they stop and think about the content more, which means they're more likely to then act on the information. WHAT DOES YOUR CREATIVITY STAND FOR? SHELBY x Studios is rooted in creating a legacy for my dad, who I lost to cancer as a teenager. He was an inspiring community activist who fought police brutality, poor housing, and the hostile environment faced by refugees and migrants in Hackney, London. He took an educational and creative approach, bringing communities together to take collective action. The name for this project combines a family name from my dad’s side, Shelby, X which represents collaboration, and Studios, a space for creativity. Another catalyst for starting this platform was the fact that I manage chronic pain, which has made doing political work in the way that I used to pretty challenging. After speaking to other comrades and people doing social justice work, I recognised that there are lots of barriers to being politically active. Things like living in remote areas, raising children, working unsociable hours or just not knowing where to start. So a core goal of Shelby X Studios is to make activism more accessible to people. Lastly and probably most fundamentally, I see the root cause of all social injustices and layers of oppression stemming from the same place - racial Capitalism. I would call myself a revolutionary artist because that's the goal - revolution. The current economic system is parasitic, that's why I call it racial Capitalism - because it feeds off of the exploitation of the global South, both in terms of labour and resources, in order to function. So I create artwork to draw the links and highlight the root cause of social injustice so that we can use art to imagine and create the kind of future that supports all life to thrive. Community care is an essential part of our liberation, I like to think I use art to create communities of care.

WHO/WHERE/WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE MUSE OR INSPIRATION? Artists like Emory Douglas, Frida Kahlo and Sylvia Pankhurst have had a huge influence on me and I was struck by the way they communicated through visuals and type. They have all been really impactful in generating recognisable revolutionary culture in the USA, Mexico and the UK. I'm also massively inspired by my environment, the every day community activists I see championing a more just world and working tirelessly to make it our reality. Revolutionary music and intricate floral patterns also feature heavily in my work. IF YOU COULD CHANGE A LAW, WHAT WOULD IT BE? One law?! Oh my days, there's so much that needs to change and I think it's much much deeper than just changing one law. I'm a revolutionary, not a reformist. Can I escape that question a little and say abolition? Abolish the patriarchy, abolish all the borders, abolish the prison industrial system, abolish the current racist Capitalist system.

WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT TO YOU? Accessibility, the celebration of individuality, revolutionary art, creative expression, human rights, advocating for artists, fighting for our liberation.

BUZZROUND - FAVOURITES MOVIE - LION KING BOOK - THE PRISON LETTERS OF GEORGE JACKSON BRAND - ADIDAS DESTINATION - ETHIOPIA PLAYLIST - There's a revolutionary playlist that goes alongside our recently launches art x activism zine so I've been listening to that a lot recently. Some much need revolutionary energy.