Walking about New York City, I would again and again hap across fiercely emotive faces spraypainted into various neglected public spaces. Folded into some industrial crevice, the face might be howling out in agony, or smiling toothfully in great satisfaction.
These were called "monsters," I eventually learned. And the monster maker was Roycer700.
Man, once you start looking, you see monsters everywhere--On neglected walls, doors, utility boxes, construction barriers, bodega roll-ups, anonymous post boxes, on stickers affixed to light poles, and on the pavement of Williamsburg Bridge.
The man clearly made the rounds.
At first the monsters may seem menacing, a mocking refutation of the city's broken windows policies. Many have sharp teeth, and a varying number of eyes.
After a few encounters though, you'd greet them as old friends. You can recognize a monster immediately, yet each one is unique in some subtle way, a crisp rendering of a specific emotional state somewhere along the continuum between happy and not.
Roycer painted in a contented monster on the driver's side and an aggrieved monster on the passenger's side.
A commentary on my driving skillz? In any case, for the last nine months, I've rolled the commissioned monsters all up and down the U.S. east coast, in my travels. I'm finding they provide apt commentary for many situations, from the freezing snows to bountiful gardens...
In February, the street art-minded 17 Frost Williamsburg gallery had a one-person Retrospective of Roycer's, "Living the After Life."
Half the room was devoted to canvases capturing the familiar monsters, many as collaborations with other artists, such as with fellow NYer Matt Siren:
But the other half of the show was somewhat a surprise. It wasn't devoted to monsters at all! Instead it was all about another creature entirely, one Roycer called The Ghost: