We stood on the corner of the busy brooklyn intersection, looking around nervously. I had never been around a street artist at work so I tried to play cool, staring off into the distance like I was supposed to be awkwardly placed in the middle of the sidewalk with nowhere to go. To my right, Sooz did the same- not sure what to expect. It was just after 12:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday and Jilly Ballistic was about to get pasting.
We had already seen one paste go up on a quieter street a few blocks away, but this was different, there were people everywhere. I tried to keep my composure and get rid of the stupid grin that was creeping across my face at the anticipation of what was about to go down. Of all of the gimmicks that street artists come up with to stay incognito, Jilly's lack of one might just make her's the most unique approach.
Out came the can of spray adhesive, "this one is the lightest and easiest to work with," we were told as a flock of jaded pedestrians breezed by. JB worked quickly, spraying the paste onto the paper. The smell was strong and toxic, I leaned over just at the wrong moment and asked if the chemical fumes were dangerous. "I've had many a brain damage from it," Jilly joked, we laughed for a minute and then up went the paste. None of the people around us glanced for more than a second, either afraid of what was happening, or more likely too busy to care. We took 30 seconds to admire the work, freshly plastered over a sign, and we moved on.
An hour earlier we were hanging out with the writer turned artist in a bar, the restaurant we wanted to eat at was too crowded, so it was beer for breakfast instead. Ballistic's earliest work consisted of simply spraying meaningful messages and quotes from literature on discarded objects on the street. Over time, it has evolved into a more visual style.
Now, JB's work follows two distinct and different styles: one mocks pop culture through a series of simulated computer error messages, and the other is much more heavy, centered around odd photographs from online government archives from World Wars I & II. To us, the contrast was intense, images of men in gas masks and war planes vs. trashing Silvester Stalone's latest action film. Jilly informed us that they are not at all related, simply two different lines of work happening at the same time.
Her work is primarily on and around subway stations, and because of that, it doesn't stay up for long. Sometimes Ballistic will put something up in a subway car and change seats to see how people react. One time she was pleasantly surprised to find that an MTA employee had put one of her air force pilot pastes on his cleaning gear instead of into the trash can- awesome (see below).
What makes Jilly Ballisitic unique is not only that her great sense of humor, and that she chooses to work in broad daylight with no disguise, but also that she is one of the few female street artists. Many of the most famous graffiti writers and street artists are men, but when we asked JB if it was tough to be a woman in the street art scene, she shrugged it off, noting that saying that her, "two plus years being a part of the street art world has been overwhelmingly positive." She added that bloggers should be researching female street artists more aggressively because they are out there. We graciously accept the challenge.
Check out more of her awesome work below, and see more from Jilly Ballistic on her Flickr page. If you're lucky, you might even catch some originals in a subway station near you!