Lastplak is a group of around nine painters with different backgrounds and diverse skills. Our goal is to paint, no matter what surface, size or location. Our work can be found all over the world, but our homebase is Rotterdam, so that's where most of our stuff can be seen. Ja toch!
Street Art collective Lastplak: the Robin Hood of Rotterdam
Autor: Ellen Mannens
Freitag, 25. März 2011 17:58
They probably create the most street art in Rotterdam: the guys from Lastplak. The collective without rules or preconceived plan exists ten years. Misunderstood by the art world, rejected by (some) graffiti artists, but appreciated by the people.
‘Lastplak, bis 2012′ is written on one of the most recent designed Lastplak-stickers. A joke, because according to the stories, the world perishes in 2012. For the design Lastplak used the label of Austria’s cheapest beer, Ottakringer. Lately they have a new habit of adopting the cheapest local beer as their personal favorite when they are abroad. Ottakringer is one of them.
The sticker combines everything Lastplak is: a collective with humor that wants to brighten up their city with street art. All without a preconceived plan and that is exactly what makes this Rotterdam group unique.
An interview with ‘Boortorrie’, the first Lastplak member.
“Somewhere around 1999 and 2000 I started Lastplak. At that time you saw that many old graffiti ‘writers’ switched to posters and stickers. An easy medium for those who grew older, had children, no longer wanted to work at night and wanted to reduce the chance of being caught. I started right there. The stickers of psychiatric patients and freaks were an inspiration to me, such as handmade the ‘Jesus is coming’ and ‘Ëlvis peace movement’.”
Why the name Lastplak? (The literal translation of Lastplak is ‘annoying sticky’)
“Because I put awkward expressions on a sticky medium. It started as a sort of playful rebellion. I wanted to create confusion on a small scale. So I turned the logo of Eastpak into Lastplak, but I also stuck stickers with a doorbell on anonymous or scary places. With a doorbell and nameplate I made these places a bit less anonymous. Or I would make an “in Memoriam” card for a sunken drilling platform.”
How did the collective arise?
“During stickering in town, I met others. Literally. One day I thought that it was safe to paste a sticker. At the moment I wanted to paste my sticker, a boy turned around to do exactly the same.
I met more people with the same vibe as I have: we all wanted to make art work with some humor in it. That’s how Lastplak became a collective, but it remains a group that simply cannot be explained. We have requests from people asking if we have vacancies and if they can join us. That’s not the way it works, we are just a disorganized collective.”
“During the years we’ve seen clones arising. Students from Art School who also start a collective. But then one with a concept, instead of a spontaneous action. That is precisely the reason of our success. We have no business plan. What we do is real, just because we like to do it. That’s why the discussion on the quality of our work doesn’t bother us. We don’t want to make art. When people say: ‘This isn’t art’, we say ‘ that’s right, you guys think we should be making art, we don’t.’ We are there for the people.”
The projects you’ve done with Lastplak are quite big. How do you manage that?
Naughty smile: “We make use of the confusion. Because we did a lot in the city, we were better known and thus more and more asked for legal things. That made us even better known, which gave us more space to also do illegal painting. We just started working in the daytime. ‘That must be legal’, is what everyone thinks, because who is gonna make illegal street art in the daytime? We do!”
“Because we did a lot, people started saying that we’re a commercial collective: well, we’re not! If we have a legal job for a wall one day, we’ll come back the next and take the wall next to it. No one will bother and we just want to paint.
We do commercial jobs every now and then. But the condition is that we don’t have to do too many concessions in our visual language. A while back we did a job for a multinational. We asked a really nasty amount of money. Embarrassingly much, but hey: it was a multinational. They have enough money. As a Robin Hood, we spend the money we made on that job on materials to brighten up some old buildings that were waiting to be demolished. ”
“We don’t do it for the money. Everyone has a ‘normal’ job next to Lastplak that makes us really free to create what we want with Lastplak. And people appreciate what we make. Graffiti is unreadable for most and is therefore less appreciated. Our work is more figurative; people who pass by appreciate that. It makes them happy.”
How is the relation between Lastplak and other street and graffiti artists in Rotterdam?
“We have a very broad and diverse network within Rotterdam with people who inspire us and people we collaborate with. But there are also graffiti-artists who dislike us because we do too many shutters. They think they have more right to be doing them, because they take risks by going out at night to do their graffiti. Well, we just sleep at night and just ásk shop owners if we are allowed to paint their shutters. Some graffiti-artists think that’s not ‘real’. In the ‘writers’-culture they impose themselves many rules, while we think you should be free as a street artist.”
“And then there’s the Centre for Visual Arts (CBK) in Rotterdam. One of the most important parties responsible for art in public space. In Art School they learn you have to go to them first if you want to do some street art. But we didn’t go to Art School. We’re from the street. We see and hear everything that happens on the street. When we see a new construction area, we’ve already asked the supervisor to ask if we can paint their fence. Two weeks later the CBK finally finds out about the area and asks if they can offer one of their artists the job of painting the fence. We’re not gonna wait for that!”
Lastplak exists ten years. How will you guys continue Lastplak in the next decade?
“We have now officially founded Lastplak as an association ‘to promote the Lastplak’. That means that all the money we earn with Lastplak is spent on spreading the word and image of Lastplak. To do that, we have to make choices, because our time is limited compared to what we would like to do. (Or does it seem that way because we get older?)”
“Of course there had been some discussion in the collective the last years. It isn’t easy to work with thirteen freaked out and quirky artists, but we’re only getting stronger from thanks to these discussion. That’s the way it works in Rotterdam. This year we are ten years old and therefore we are working on a book that will be issued in the autumn. Of course we want to combine this with a great presentation and party. But the autumn is still a long time away, so we might also celebrate our anniversary earlier this year with one of our Lastplak parties.”