Street artists and a global brand icon like Hello Kitty may not seem natural bedfellows; quite the opposite in fact. The guerilla tactics, questionable legality and mature subject matter of some street art seems in direct opposition to the mass-produced cookie cutter character aimed squarely at the pre-teen market.
But what the Sanrio character does share with street art is striking imagery, and a new ABRAMS-published book – Hello Kitty, Hello Art! – shows how the two worlds can collide with surprising results. The pink bowed kitten, which has been a licence to print money for the Japanese company since 1975, is the most famous of Sanrio’s stable of kawaii (cute) creations that provided the inspiration for artists, including members of The Seventh Letter street art collective, Gary Baseman and Shepard Fairey to produce their own interpretations of Kitty and her friends.
The works, which have been made using pretty much every medium you can think of (surely artist RISK’s neon Rolling Stones mashup the most brilliant), were unveiled at the book launch with a recent live one-day exhibition at LA’s Known Gallery.