Miss Bugs are a London-based street-art partnership (a boy and a girl), working together since 2007. From their early days, they have preferred to keep a low profile choosing to communicate through their artwork rather than through media appearances, therefore, not much is known about them.
Miss Bugs create colourful mixed-media works. They use a vast array of materials and methods such as screen printing, painting, casting, gold and silver leaf, wood and aluminium, to name a few.
Some of their early work brought the artists a lot of attention on the streets. This was a series of cut-out pieces that blended into their urban surroundings. Over the past few years, the artists have been focusing on multimedia cast resin pieces.
Miss Bugs’ latest work, a stunning example of the artists' skills, is a large, free standing, resin disc,130cm in diameter, shown at the Time and Life Building in London, UK.
Miss Bugs have exhibited in London, New York, LA, Mexico and Brighton.
We have been working with Miss Bugs since 2008, when they held their first solo exhibiton, The State of Art, at ink_d gallery, Brighton, where Dan was working as a curator and director.
Echo Chamber, Miss Bugs, Mayfair, London, UK
Parlour, Miss Bugs, Brooklynite Gallery, NY, USA
The State of Art, Miss Bugs, ink_d gallery, UK
SASML ft. Faile, Swoon, Cave Gallery, LA, USA
Bingo Night at the Promised Land, New Image Gallery, LA, USA
The Lost Ones ft. Shepard Fairey, The Date Farmers, Upper Playground Fifty24mx - Mexico City, Mexico
2 Many Artist, Miss Bugs & Joe Black, Brooklynite Gallery, NY, US
Alternativity ft. Eine, Dface, Stella Dore, London, UK
A conversation with Miss Bugs
by Dan Hipkin
Where does the inspiration come from?
I think the inspiration comes from that idea of cutting and pasting. It’s a process similar to what a DJ does… We like looking at the connections in the art world and we draw from new and old styles, from Basquiat to Picasso and from Tom Wasselman to Gary Humes.
There’s a quote on your website by Picasso that says ‘If there is something to steal, I steal it!' How meaningful is that to you in terms of how you work?
Well, that was our initial approach to creating our work… We started stealing from other artists; we took some of their elements, their imagery, and then reworked them and reformed them in order to create something new. Those elements would then become a part of our work. Within one of our pieces there could be references to more than 20 artists... In the shows we have done in the past, we have referenced directors like David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, etc., and there were also some musical references. We were just referencing and mixing all the time. We enjoyed establishing these connections, showing how often artists could sit quite closely in styles while coming from different time periods. I suppose our current work still has that theme running through it in a way, although it now has a more dreamlike quality to it; our portraits and figurative work are characters set in their own world.
I remember that on your first solo show ‘Monsters of Spin’ (ink_d Gallery, Brighton, 2008), your work used a lot of referencing to other artists whereas now your current pieces might make reference through the use of a pattern, textures or even graphics.
That’s right, in the early days it was more in your face, there might have been one or two elements as a direct reference to Damien Hirst’s work for example, but now our references might be more delicate, more subtle.
We see you working in different methods now, do you have a favourite?
The initial idea of Miss Bugs was based on a quick process, stealing from other artists, putting everything together, making new imagery, taking things that were already iconic and trying to make fast, new imagery, not being too precious about it. Our work has now moved on from that approach. What we do now, the process we follow, has almost become painstaking… A piece will take months; it can be a very labour intensive process that has the intervention of many hands. So rather than taking a quick afternoon to finish a piece, it now takes a month or two in production, maybe even longer… It’s a completely different working method. Our connection to the work has also changed. When you work on a piece for that long, when you spend so much time with it, you develop a closer relationship. The piece becomes more precious, and we become more attached to it.
What are your earliest memories of experimenting with art?
Him: The earliest memories I have are from a very young age; I remember creating stuff in the darkroom with my dad who was a photographer. We made photograms out of household bits and bobs and made pin-hole cameras, and did our own film processing. That’s the earliest memory I have of consciously doing something creative. Obviously before then I was doing some colouring in with crayons, painting and doing the odd potato print as a toddler, you know, that type of stuff... But I suppose I didn’t really consider art until I was in college and started to look at graphics and graphic art, I did a few t-shirts for friends…
Is that when you started to experience working with silkscreen?
Yeah, around then, but after college I was doing more commercial work within the fashion world, which really introduced me to screen printing.
Her: I started working with printmaking, etching, lithographic work and more traditional print forms. I didn’t come from a graphic approach; my background was based on more traditional printmaking.
Where did you guys meet?
We met in Bristol at college about 20 years ago now…
Did you start working together at that point?
No, we didn’t start working together until we came to London.
We started working as Miss Bugs around 2007. At the time
everything we did went out online, so the ‘growing pains’
of Miss Bugs were quite public. We learned a lot from that
It appears you’re enjoying experimenting with the different materials you’re using, is that an important part of the process?
Yeah, definitely, that’s the most exciting part. Even something silly like trying out a new resin, observing or having discussions about how that affects blades or toy cars in different ways; the testing and experiments is often the most enjoyable part of what we do. After we’ve laid down one pattern and have worked out how it’s going to be done, then we start the ‘factory process’… You’re working with your hands, you sort of tune out, listen to the radio… It can be repetitive but also rhythmic.
Another enjoyable part of the process is when the rough images have been mocked-up on screen or paper, when all the tests have been done and we start to have a sense of what the final piece is.
'Experimenting is often the most enjoyable part of what we do.'
I’d like to ask you about a recent piece you recently unveiled at the Time and Life building in London. How was working on that project?
It was complicated in that it was a circular piece and we needed it to stand upright. We had a vision of the final piece but it took time to work around the technical issue of counterweights etc., to make it freestanding. The mechanical process was complex - trying to create a mould of a perfect circle was only the first stage. We went through several resin tests to ensure that the final resin pours didn’t warp or shrink under it’s own curing.
This piece was a 20 day process because of the drying times between each layer of resin. We are very methodical, taking each stage step by step, whether silkscreening or pouring resin but it’s a nerve-breaking process working with resin because you can still never be 100% sure how it will react.
Let’s talk about your exhibitions, you’ve shown in NY, London, LA, Mexico, did you notice any difference in terms of how your work is received?
Well, we haven’t done a show in a very long time! And our work has evolved so I think our approach to working for a new show would be very different.
We have a fairly global audience, but it feels like a lot of our work goes to America. Maybe because we’ve done a few more shows in the US or maybe it’s just a numbers game - they have a much bigger population than the UK…
Do you think you have a particular fan base?
Well, I think we have a broad following but it’s hard for us to tell as we rarely meet face to face. I guess the galleries get the pleasure of meeting the collectors on our behalf…
We’ve got to know a few followers over the years via email, people who have supported us and we feel that we’ve got to know them a little, which is great as we then get a feel of the homes that our works go to.
What are you working on currently?
We are currently working on several commissions; we have a long waiting list but we love working on new pieces for collectors….
We will also start work on the remaining pieces in the series we produced for display in Time & Life.
Lastly, we are also working on a large resin piece where the pattern is made of Lego figures. It’s the first time we’ve worked with Lego! We are producing this as a commission through a private gallery.
Any ideas you might be considering for the future?
Future plans will include a show but where and when is still very much TBC… Plans for the next solo show have been getting bigger and more complex. We’ve stopped saying when it will be, but when it does happen it will be a step up for us. Some of the ideas have been 2-3 years (so far) in the making… Developing the work, it’s becoming more 3D, more installation-based, more interactive. Hopefully soon, you’ll be able to climb into one of our resin pieces!
Interview, photography and design © by Whistleblower Gallery, 2016. All rights reserved.
If you wish to purchase any work by Miss Bugs, please visit our shop.