It’s one of the ironies of contemporary China that gaps in the legal system bring infinite little freedoms to everyday life. To many Westerners living in its major cities, China is more liberal than their home countries – a place where you can park your bicycle wherever you like, or drink a beer in the street, without the municipal regulations that shape life in Western cities.
According to American graffiti artist, tag-named Mels, this flexibility extends to street art. “As long as you don’t write anything political, nobody is going to care what you’re doing,” he says, since graffiti in China is not strictly speaking illegal. Having moved to Shanghai a couple of years ago, Mels is a co-founder of Beast Mode Studios – a design studio (by day) and graffiti crew (by night), with artists from all over China.
Mels is my interviewee for this week’s post. Read on to hear about the budding subcultures of Wuhan and Changsha, and why in this American graffiti artist’s view China’s upcoming scene surpasses that of the United States.