Upfest Presents, from Studio to Street.

Bristol street art upfest

Last Saturday, something incredible happened: I became a featured artist at Upfest Presents!

While Bristol's buzzing street art scene has always inspired me, I never imagined I'd play a small part in celebrating it. So, when I got the email saying my work was chosen out of over 900 applicants, a wave of excitement (and maybe a touch of terror) washed over me.

This year, the iconic Bristol street art festival has undergone a metamorphosis, emerging as Upfest Presents: a sprawling, 17-day celebration of creativity of a festival experience. Having never been to Upfest before, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would a festival that traditionally took place over a weekend in the park translate to a city area-wide event? Let me tell you, it absolutely did. 
It was my first time doing a live art demonstration on this scale. My usual studio space and canvas size suddenly felt very small. However I spent the fortnight leading up to the festival preparing, sketching ideas and making a quarter size replica of the final design.
Thankfully, those nerves quickly melted away upon arrival. I was supported by my wife Sally and it turned into a collaboration between us both. The Upfest crew was absolutely amazing, welcoming us and radiating an infectious energy.
But the real highlight was meeting the other featured artists. There I was, surrounded by this talented bunch from all corners of the globe. We swapped stories, shared techniques, and offered each other constructive feedback. It was a true artist's haven, brimming with creativity and camaraderie.
As I started putting brush to canvas, the initial nervousness morphed into a focused flow. The supportive energy of the public watching and interacting further fueled my inspiration. It was an experience unlike any other, and the time flew by. The final piece was inspired by a mixture of last year's Barbie/Oppenheimer cultural phenomenon and a sprinkling of other nuclear themed references. I was satisfied with the result, I would definitely do a fair few things differently and if I'm ever lucky enough to be invited back I'd have a better idea on timings and materials needed.
Upfest Presents wasn't just about showcasing my art; it was about connecting with a vibrant community of artists and art lovers. It was a whirlwind of creativity, collaboration and fun.
The art talent on display was fantastic and the whole vibe was just awesome! I may have had a little boogie to some banging tunes supplied by the DJ and the odd cider may have been consumed. 
Bedminster in Bristol became a living canvas. From towering murals that steal your breath away to hidden gems tucked down alleyways, there was street art waiting to be discovered around every corner. It was a constant surprise and delight, encouraging you to explore every nook and cranny of the neighborhood. 
While the murals are undeniably the stars of the show, Upfest Presents offers so much more. Free workshops let you try your hand at everything from stenciling to a doodle wall. Live art demonstrations Talks and discussions provide fascinating insights from the artists themselves. 
But Upfest Presents does feel it's more than just about art – it's about community. The streets buzz with a festival vibe. Cafes and restaurants offer the perfect pit stop to refuel and soak up the creative energy. 
It was a vibrant, interactive celebration of art that catered to everyone, from seasoned artists to curious newcomers. In my session the range of styles, subjects and methods was a real mix. 
If you're looking for a unique and unforgettable cultural experience, it is a must-see. If you're even remotely interested in art, especially street art, you owe it to yourself to experience Upfest Presents, whether as an artist or a spectator. It's a celebration of artistic expression and it might just inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and create something amazing. 
I'll be looking forward to attending Upfest next year either as an Artist or just to enjoy the festival itself.

Older Post

Leave a comment