As a form, street art proves oftentimes unpredictable and unexpected. You never know just what you might encounter when you round the corner of a street or drive down an alley.
Among the many artists shaking us out of the boredom of our everyday lives is Shark Toof, whose signature shark emblazons city walls everywhere from Los Angeles to New York. Whether on electrical boxes, billboards, or gallery walls, Shark Toof’s art continues to captivate the art world’s attention and make casual passersby look twice. Now admirers and curious art lovers can pick up a copy of the artist’s book Shark Toof, published by ZERO+ Publishing that traces the evolution of this daring artist.
In anticipation of his book signing at La Luz de Jesus on October 11, I spoke with the Shark Toof about his art and the ideas behind the book. He said:
The book basically starts with the beginning of when I started shark toof and it ends at my solo show at LeBasse Projects last year. All the work in between is pretty much in the book but there’s definitely a rhythm to the book based on the publisher and it’s not a book that’s completely done by me.
In talking about the process of creating Shark Toof, published by Ken Pederson’s ZERO+Publishing which focuses on art books, Shark Toof stresses that the publishing company plays a big role in the book’s success, adding:
When you do a book with someone, or even a product, you have to relinquish control… instead of me taking full control I think it’s important to leave it up to the editor to create a conversation with it [the book] so that the book flows really awesome.
The book comes in two limited special editions, inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s seminal art project Boîte-en-Valise (Box in a Valise or Box in Suitcase), which consisted of portable collections of Duchamps’s works in miniature form. The ultra-limited edition of Shark Toof, of which there are only ten, includes features such as reclaimed wood and hand-painted details, along with 13 pieces for the buyer to create what the Shark Toof calls an ‘assemblage.’ The limited edition of 25 is housed in a stencil-painted cardboard box and includes two signed prints, plus stickers, while standard hardcover edition hardcover is limited 1000 copies. Talking about the book, Shark Toof says:
The collectors themselves get to participate, which has been my campaign with Shark Toof. I’m a spectator as well. Instead of being solely responsible and having this ego attached to the work, I wanted to be removed and go ‘hey isn’t that kind of cool?
Shark Toof shares that the process of working on the book made him really have to shift gears, and that he wanted both editions to feel personal. The artist places great value on the viewers who look closely at his work and see beyond the superficial aspect. When thinking about who might pick up the book, Shark Toof recalled some great memories with fans. The artist shared:
I think a lot of the time you get ‘oh you made really cool work’ or ‘that’s really beautiful’ but once in a while when you get someone to say ‘I had to stand in front of your piece for ten or fifteen minutes.’ I recently got one of those emails from someone who was at Source LA of a painting [sic] that was 12 foot by 12 foot and she said ‘You’re insane, your work is beautiful’ and she got the tone of the work, the content, and to me that’s who I really enjoy as my audience.
That relationship with the viewer influenced the manner in which Shark Toof approached his work, including his book. He explains:
They see that this is not a manufactured piece, and I’m not a factory. These are lovingly made, each single one of them is handled… That’s why I stayed clear of doing computer prints because I always wanted things to feel connecting. I collect artwork too and I actually don’t really buy prints, only originals because I want the soul of that artist. I think that’s–without getting too emo–why I want to try and keep providing for my audience. And I know I’ve done some giclees and such, but I try to hand embellish at least a certain amount to attract those people who like art as much as I do in that respect.
Shark Toof’s book signing takes place at La Luz de Jesus Gallery on October 11 from 7 to 10 p.m. His upcoming solo show, entitled “Ping Pong Show,” opens October 20 at C.A.V.E. Gallery.
“Shark Toof ” Book Signing
October 11, 7pm to 10pm
4633 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Open Monday-Wednesday 11am-7pm; Thursday-Saturday 11am-9pm; Sunday noon-6pm