The unique styles from Powers have always resinated with me and I always feel like the deeper I go down the lettering rabbit hole, the more I understand his work. Leading from a graffiti background to where he is now, I think it’s amazing how he strategically manages to shed just enough aesthetic layers to bang you over the head with intelligent, and sometimes irreverent, lettering to make you wonder why you do what you do. Beyond his unique layouts, color palettes, brushed block letters and everything that makes powers a Penslingers “Hall of Famer”, it’s the sense of humor/sarcasm that gets me every time.
Here’s a bit more about Steve Espo Powers from firstandfifteenth.net: In 1999 Powers stopped writing graffiti and tending bar to dedicate himself to being a full-time artist. In spite of early spite (we see you Richard Goldstien ). His work has been shown at Venice and Liverpool Biennials, as well as numerous shows (TO BE FAIR: 2.75 shows) at Deitch Projects. Powers was a Fulbright scholar in 2007. He used the grant to paint in the streets of Dublin and Belfast. His work in Belfast’s Lower Shankill area was inspired by the area’s political murals; Powers told the New York Times that he was “taking the form of the murals, which are powerful for all the wrong reasons, and trying to retain some of the power and use it in a really good way.”
Building on what he started in Ireland, Powers is now working on an ongoing mural project about the complexities and rewards of relationships titled A Love Letter for You. In Philadelphia, Stephen (call him ESPO) and his crew (call them ICY) painted more than 50 walls along the elevated train along Market Street in West Philly. The project, sponsored by a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, and produced with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, has generated positive reviews from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The Blog of Sean Combs.
The accompanying book A Love Letter for You, shot by photographers Adam Wallacavage and Zoe Strauss, was published by Free News Projects and is now available. It is distributed by DAP in New York City.
Powers is also the author of a book detailing his personal graffiti history, The Art of Getting Over ( St. Martin’s Press 1999), as well as the graphic novel, First and Fifteenth: Pop Art Short Stories (Villard Press, 2005).
See more and buy some prints from FirstAndFifteenth.net