Miss Bugs are a street art couple comprising of one girl and one boy. Their work is fantastically unique featuring rag bag characters of superheroes and monsters often in cut out visual form and scattered around urban environments. They have exhibited their work in New York and their prints often sell out rapidly. Don’t Panic had a little chin wag with these amazing artists.
Where and when did Miss and Bugs meet?
We met in Bristol many years ago on a club-boat called the Thekla.
What is the inspiration behind your work?
Inspiration comes from many different places from our landscape, to the galleries, to movies and music. It’s hard to answer this question without talking about each body of work separately. Our work evolves and changes continuously as does our inspiration. At the moment we’re doing a street project called Cut Out and Fade Out which deals with the ideas of memory and lost moments in time…
Are there any artists out there that you admire at the moment?
We look at many different artists, recently we’ve been looking at a lot of work by the photographer Jacques Henri Lartique
. There’s beautiful movement in his photography, which is something we’re always trying to capture in our work. Although our pieces are often figurative or are portraits, which are traditionally static, we try and give ours a feel of fluidity, energy and motion. Other artists that inspire us more in concept than visually are Elaine Sturtevant and Jake and Dinos Chapman, as they both deal with issues of ownership and branding.
With the Cut Out and Fade Out
work we’ve been looking at Vera Lehndorff “Veruschka”
as she would paint herself to blend into the environment and then photograph herself afterwards. We’re approaching our project with a different concept and ideology; developing the Cut Out
street work leaving our figures in place and collaging other aspects into the pieces that play with the surrounding areas. The photograph becomes the final piece but the message resonates from the entire process.
Your art is a collaborative effort. What is the decision making process behind your artwork?
We have a Monday morning meeting, one of us brings the biscuits. Bugs bought Rich Tea one week and there was hell to pay. Who the hell likes Rich Tea!
Are there arguments or compromises behind each creative decision?
Not if he brings chocolate hob nobs!
Do you feel that there is a place for street art in galleries, and if so could you expand on this?
Yes – as it’s already in the galleries and has been since the days of Keith Haring
. But I’d like to see more gallery art on the streets.
Themes of your work comprises of superheroes, cartoon characters, religion, angels, pornographic women, Frankenstein’s monster and the Afghan Pushtini girl Sharbat Gula. If possible could you explain the idea behind some of these themes?
When using cartoon characters in our work it hurls us back to a more innocent time. In our early work Bugs stumbled across old drawings he had done as a child, of cartoon characters copied from the TV as any small child might do.
The way we see it ‘copying’ is a basic instinct – something that children do in all innocence. Hirst ‘borrowing’ from another artist is less innocent as once the image is connected with Hirst it becomes iconic – the process is more calculated. So by mashing together an innocent drawing with a deliberate Hirst design creates a juxtaposition of concepts. The mixing up of imagery on the canvas hopefully works on all sorts of levels for the viewer.
As for the sexy ladies well everybody likes a bit of sexiness… The images we use are often stolen from commercial advertising. We hijack them to tell another story within our work – about how so much of the art world is now built on marketing and branding.
Yes, we do admire Damien Hirst - we’ve re-appropriated a few of his pieces within our work. For example we made our spin paintings as a reflection of Damien Hirst’s spin paintings. A lot of our work explores ownership of ideas, working styles and the relationship and knock-on effect that artist’s have with one another. As Hirst is a master of lifting other people’s creations; in the case of the spin painting it had been done many times before by the likes of Alfons Schilling
. The great thing about Hirst is he can take things that have been done many times before, put his stamp on them and make them iconic.
You have spent some time in New York Brooklyn. What it is like out there?
It’s great – we had a wicked time. It’s one of our favourite cities and we hope to go back soon.
What do you think of Herakut another street art girl boy duo? Do you feel that there is space for two girl/boy combos?
We’ve never met Herakut – am sure they’re lovely. There are millions of artists in the world, boys and girls and I expect thousands work together. I don’t think a boy/girl duo is particularly unique…
You have a quote on your website from Pablo Picasso. What does this quote mean to you as a creative team?
“If there is something to steal, I steal it!” This summarises what a lot of our work is about – the idea of artists stealing from one another. This can be seen in all art movements throughout history. Artists don’t exist in a vacuum; they create work that is informed by what is going on around them, including what other artists are doing. Artists like Van Gogh and Gauguin, Picasso and Braque they fed off each other to some extent, which drove their work and the new concepts they were exploring forward. Each artist brings something new into the mix, moving ideas on and making the work their own.
What was the scene in New York like?
New York is amazing – we both have a love for big cities, they kind of engulf us…
Where can we see some of your street work in London?
Dotted all over at the moment, Our recent street project Cut Out and Fade Out was never meant to be permanent and don’t seem to last very long as they can easily be taken away. Think the longest time was about seven days.
What are you working on next?
Something a little different…