If you read BYT, you are likely familiar with No Kings Collective. If you enjoy murals around DC, you are likely familiar with No Kings Collective. And if you attend pop-up art happenings in the area, you’ve likely met Peter Chang and Brandon Hill, its founders. And you’re about to see a lot more of them. The artist collective and creative agency, is gearing up for a busy spring in partnership with the [email protected] and Warsteiner. Their plan is for a two month pop-up featuring one of a kind content and programming running from April 8 through June 5. The double header kicks-off with the first solo show of No Kings Collective co-founder and mixed media artist Brandon Hill in 6 years. “THE BEASTS OF ENGLAND/Animal Farm” will open April 8 and run through April 24. No Kings Collective brings back it’s now-infamous Hustle show, launching “Hustle 2.0”. Planned as “A celebration of the artistic creativity in the nation’s capital”, the “Hustle 2.0” pop-up with run May 13 to June 5.
We caught up with Brandon to preview the shows and reminisce about years past.
BYT: For those not familiar with No Kings (though most of BYT audience is likely to be) – can you give us a brief introduction as to what do you guys do?
Brandon Hill: We’re two knuckle headed, art dudes that run an agency and artist collective in DC. We work with tons of area up and coming and established artists, businesses and organizations to create pop-up exhibitions, murals, and a million other things, all promoting art in the nation’s capital.
BYT: What is the inspiration for the show?
BH: I have been diving in further into animals and sculpture in my career. I have always loved the story Animal Farm and the idea of creating a farm in a sense with the work itself. Allegory is a ton of fun. It gives me a ton of ability to move and maneuver. Like a matryoshka doll, this scenario is me exploring a book, that explored a farm story exploring through allegory world affairs of the 1930s. That layer cake of ideas is interesting to me.
BYT: How did the title come about?
BH: In Orson Wells’ book Animal Farm, the post rebellion farm has an anthem to represent the achievement of taking over a manor, it was called the Beasts of England. In the story it was replaced (by force) latter with a song called Comrade Napoleon. It becomes a rallying song during some of the tough times and their way to look to the future. Though published in 1945, it has a ring to it that is very current, and very badass.
BYT: Any pieces that stick out to you personally and why?
BH: Tough question. It’s all new work and all very specific to this theme so the whole project is like a single piece to me. It was awesome to be able to extrapolate rage concept and think of it modern times, and as a result give modern personality to some of the characters explored.
BYT: It has been a while since the last solo show, why?
BH: Honestly, working my but off with what we have going on at No Kings Collective. It’s a living laboratory where one month I’m working on a venue facade like Songbyrd and the next doing wood fabrication for RIIDE bikes, then the next a mural like the Colonel Mural we did in Shaw. And, my personality is the type that picks up things along the way. I have a lot of “note to self” moments like Norm Macdonald, logging new techniques and new ways or art making. I have just been in the lab for a few years with new ideas and this is the first new project.
BYT: What are some of the challenges and benefits of working large scale?
BH: Challenges are the challenges. Working large scale is like working against the clock, actually make that 2 clocks. Clock 1 = the amount of time you guestimate it will take. Clock 2 = the amount of unforeseen problems (magnified by your project’s size) affecting Clock 1. It means you have to factor in “known unknowns” and that can make you feel even more anxious about the project. Benefits are that it trains you to always be problem solving along the way, always trouble shooting.
BYT: Since you’ve been working, DC has changed a lot – what are some of your favorite new things, and some things you miss?
BH: I have a strange response but it would be DCPL (DC’s public library system). They have killed it with the remodeling of the library. I’m not a big coffee shop fan and so that has mostly been my office. I have always loved being around books. Maketto “Fo Show” if it’s food we’re talking. That place combines noodles, sneakers, friend chicken, coffee, booze, toys, and good people, etc under one roof, can’t beat that. What do I miss: Steve’s Bar Room. I miss the mix of characters at the place, a true common watering hole.
BYT: No Kings often collaborates – when you look back, what are some of your favorite collaborations thus far?
BH: An event we did a while back called Submerge. Our events have in reality been little petri dishes to be able to collab and test a crap load of mural ideas, signage, and installations that we would otherwise have no money or need to build and no customers to serve. So being able to showcase 20+ of your peers, is always awesome.
BYT: Any advice you’d have given yourself before you started doing this (both art AND No Kings)?
BH: LEARN BUSINESS STUFF, like really learn it. Know it, smell it, caress it, taste it, like it, refine it. It’s talked about in art world often like a foreign language but it dictates oddly enough what and how you can do art things. Knowing how to angle or identify an opportunity is not that dissimilar to identifying good canvas or good paint. Not just to give the advantage but to help navigate bad projects and people trying to exploit you. It’s true that you don’t know what you don’t know, but art world “best practices” are harder to learn and understand at first than something like “HVAC repair” or “culinary arts” best practices, that are taught at the trade school level.
BYT: And finally, any shout outs…?
BH: My Mom, my Dad, my brothers, sister, NKC, Jordan C., Mountfields, DC, BYT, BURGERs…