Time flies when you’re in Hell
This month makes it five years since Shell sent me a cease and desist over my anti-Shell merch. And then, somehow, all it took was me replying with few sarcastic emails for them to back down and leave me alone. I can’t believe it worked and I cant believe this stuff is still in my shop
The legal threat happened in 2018 in retaliation to a subvertising campaign organised by Brandalism in which some of my, and other artists’ anti-Shell posters were put up around the country in response to Shell’s greenwashing festival: Make the Future.
A day or two after the posters went up I received an email from Shell’s lawyers regarding the Hell merch I was selling on my website to help fund my artwork. They gave me 7 days to take everything offline or they would begin legal proceedings.
I was kindly offered free legal advice which warned me that it could be hard to win in court and if I lost I could be saddled with £40k+ in fees, so reluctantly I intended to acquiesce to their demand. But in the meantime I thought I’d reply to their lawyer anyway and see if I could wind them up. You can see the email exchange here:
After that last email, they stopped replying altogether and appear to have dropped the claim. Someone higher up the chain of command must have realised it was backfiring as I was posting the correspondence online and it was getting shared all over the place.
Apparently sarcasm is an effective legal defence.
I was really struggling for cash at the time so the sales generated by the legal threat actually meant I could keep my studio open, so, er thanks?
To this day and I’m still selling anti-Shell merch and it’s helped fund several Shell-based projects including the Hell Bus and some new stuff that’s in the works, and to celebrate five years I’ve had some new badges made up!
You can order them here. All funds go towards pissing off Shell.
Massive thanks to everyone who’s bought any of this or my other stuff, it really helps me keep doing what I’m doing.
I’m bringing the Hell Bus back to Glastonbury this year (come see it in Shangri-La!) with it expanded to be the Hell Bus in a Hell petrol station.
I’ll also be taking the bus to Lambeth Country Show in south London (free entry over two days 10th – 11th June)
I’m currently building an on-fire petrol pump for the Hell Bus to have crashed into, using water vapour to simulate the fire (see the video below). I’ve been posting work in progress updates of this on my instagram story.
I’m in the newspaper! Specifically I’m in The Posttraumatic from Spain, edited by the brilliant Octavi Serra who I met at Trashplant Festival last year. The photo of the Shell Green Emissions poster above is also from this issue. Copies or a subscription to the paper are available from The Posttraumatic website.
A spread of my subvertising posters is in the current issue of the brilliant DOPE magazine from Dog Section Press. They have a mutual aid distribution model so they give away thousands of free copies to anyone who needs to make a few quid, who can then sell it on the street and keep everything they make. If you can’t find a street vendor you can also subscribe via their website which helps them get thousands more copies into the hands of people who can use them. It’s a fantastic mag and a worthwhile cause. Support them if you can!
BEHEADED KING STAMP T-SHIRTS
I put this shirt design in my shop for preorder last month but there’s been a delay at the printers so I’m reopening the preorder for this weekend only, closes on Monday at 11am and they’ll go into production. You can order yours here.
A few years ago I added some vinyl lettering to the bottom of this Sainsbury’s pinkwashing ad during Pride month. It stayed up for a day before they took the whole banner down, and as far as I can tell they’ve never put another ad in the same spot.
The only thing a corporation can ever proudly support is their ability to make profit. To them, social issues are merely PR opportunities to drive sales and enrich investors.
Sainsbury’s largest shareholder is the Qatari Royal Family, a country where homosexuality is punished with 3 years in prison and a fine. It is also illegal to change your birth-assigned gender.
Apart from the ownership issue, what was particularly galling about this poster was the inclusion of Sainsbury’s “150 years” anniversary logo, making it appear like the supermarket had been at the forefront of supporting LGBT+ rights for that long, as opposed to deciding a few years ago to capitalise on the life-and-death struggle of LGBT people in order to sell more pasta and baked beans.
Couple of posters installed in Southend-on-Sea this weekend after I spent a day talking to students on The Other MA about how subvertising is against the law and why no one should do it. Seems my advice was ignored.
In particular I implored them to never use a T30, H60 hex and four way utility keys to open bus stops and replace the ‘6 sheet’ advertising posters (dimensions 120 X 180cm) with artwork instead of ads.
Here’s everything I’ve got planned for the next two months:
10th-11th June – Lambeth Country Show
Hell Bus at a free two day festival in Brockwell Park, will be in the “Eco-Village”
21st-25th June – Glastonbury Festival
The Hell Bus crashes into a Hell petrol station in Shangri-La, Glastonbury.
I’ll also be taking part in a panel at the Silver Hayes Information Stage on Saturday between 13:15-14:00. The panel is called “The Power of Publicity” and includes speakers from Liberty, Notes to Strangers, and Pregnant Then Screwed.
24th June – 8th July – Steal This Poster
I have work in this group exhibition at an art space called ZAP (Zona Aromatica Protetta) vicolo di Santa Maria Maggiore 1
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 08:30 to 22:00
15th-16th July – Whitecross Street Party
Bringing the Hell Bus back to London for a two day street art festival in Whitecross.
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Eternal thanks to anyone who’s ever backed my work on Patreon or through the shop!
And thanks for reading!