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Franco Taloen, Graffik Gallery

Graffik Gallery


Franco Taloen, co-owner of Graffik, on tagging and MC battle-off parties

Urban art is usually found in East London. What made you decide to open in Portobello Road?

Ollie Cox and I used to run an executive search and selection company in Old Street. Ollie, in particular, bought a lot of street artwork from the area and started selling privately. We moved to offices in Notting Hill when we needed to expand and then moved into selling street art. It suits the Portobello Road culture; its sub-culture and multiculturalism.

I’ve noticed that you have a few artists who are based at West London Art Factory…

We sell Jewel Goodby’s, Inkie’s and Carleen de Sozer’s work [all based in WLAF] – we’re like one big family and collaborate a lot with them. We’ve also collaborated with Mutate Britain.

Who or what got you into urban art?

Banksy, Space Invader, Rafter and T.Wat – artists who are very active on the street.

What’s your typical day like?

I attend to the gallery; speak with private collectors; help with evaluating the price to sell artwork; curate exhibitions – our next is on Thursday 9 June featuring Alec Monopoly’s first overseas solo show; and organising graffiti masterclasses – which are open to anyone interested in graffiti as an art form.

Street art looks great on a street (its public context is often a crucial element of it), so why should people buy it for their homes?

Street art appeals to different personalities and different tastes. Tagging is traditionally territorial behaviour and urban art reflects the times, often commenting on controversial issues happening around the world. In the public domain, urban art will often make people smile and people like the message, so why not have that in your home? Other people enjoy speculating on the value of the art and buy work they think will rise in value in a short space of time.

Who buys the work?

The Notting Hill boho chic crowd who go to E&O and Electric and the young affluent crowd such as bankers. We also have the likes of a posh ladies looking for birthday presents and a 60-year-old woman from Switzerland.

Tell us a bit about your back yard…

We are currently transforming the garden, which will see it remain the place-to-spray. However the new look garden will re-open as Graff-Tea where fresh juices and teas will be served plus Wi-Fi will be available, offering visitors the chance to discover more about the artists on show and forward information about the work they have seen to friends and family. Through our workshops in Graff-Tea, children and adults will have the opportunity to learn about graffiti art and create their first mural in a safe and respected environment.

Who is your fave artist?

Fine graffiti artist Ron English. He often comments on the advertising industry and how it brainwashes children. Though we will always nurture emerging talent.

Where do you grab lunch?

La Botega on Tavistock Square or Portobello Fresh Juice Bar [297 Portobello Road, London, W10] across the road from us.

Where do you like to go after work?

E&O and Beach Blanket Babylon, although I’m pretty easy about going where friends want to go.

What’s coming next?

We’ve gone on a journey. We started out focusing on old calligraphy and soon became known for throwing cool MC battle-off parties and attracting sub-cultures, but it was hard to monetise so we spruced up our image. Aerosol-based fine graffiti art is the next big thing, so we’ll be focusing on that and continue to nurture British talent.

Graffik Gallery, 284 Portobello Road, London, W10; www.graffikgallery.com; 020 8354 3592

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