a person sitting on a stage
The Cartier Edition 1968 Lincoln Continental MK3, restored by Motoburo and painted by Leeds-born artist INSA.

British artist and designer INSA, an alumnus of Goldsmith’s College in London, initiated his artistic journey through graffiti art. He gained early fame for his unique ‘graffiti fetish’ designs, a style that has earned him a place in prominent institutions like London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and the Tate Britain. Beyond the British Isles, his artwork adorns the streets of global cities including Tokyo, New York, and Berlin, among others.

INSA’s body of work delves into contemporary issues, often critiquing societal norms and narratives. His pieces challenge the fetishization of material goods in our consumer-driven world, while also questioning the validity of widely-accepted ideas of success. INSA’s work exudes a blend of irony and self-deprecating humor, making it relatable and engaging for diverse audiences. This has allowed him to transcend conventional gallery spaces, enabling his work to resonate in varied settings, from upscale art galleries to urban communities.

In terms of artistic evolution, INSA’s early focus on high-impact, often temporary street art has shaped his experimental approach to new media. Over the years, he has built a multi-faceted empire that encompasses more than just art; it extends to furniture and clothing design as well. He even runs his own high-heel shoe company, and has customized cars. His work, whether public installations or commercial projects, is frequently released in limited editions or displayed briefly, a reflection of his interest in challenging conventional concepts of time, permanence, and the way we consume art.

INSA’s ability to adapt and innovate has garnered him a large global following. This fan base has only expanded with his recent forays into social and digital media platforms. One of his most talked-about releases was a limited-edition of INSA-designed leggings that sold out in mere minutes, primarily promoted through social media channels like Instagram and Twitter.

One groundbreaking aspect of INSA’s work is his invention of ‘GIF-ITI’, a term he coined to describe his unique blend of graffiti and GIF animations. This labor-intensive technique requires him to repaint entire murals multiple times to create animated street art that exists solely online. A notable example of this innovation was his collaboration with Stanley Donwood for XL Records on ‘Hollywood Dooom,’ marking the launch of a new Atoms for Peace album.

INSA’s reach extends to a variety of sectors, attracting interest from private collectors, celebrities, and big-name brands. He has collaborated with established companies like Kangol, Oki-Ni, and NIKE. In fact, his custom designs for NIKE gained such popularity that knock-offs appeared in the Chinese market, even though the original designs were never sold commercially. In a unique engagement campaign in 2011, part of his ‘swap shop’ project, fans were encouraged to offer ‘swaps’ for a bootleg INSA x NIKE t-shirt. The offerings ranged from naming rights for a firstborn child to fans getting tattoos of INSA’s art.

Recent career milestones include being invited to curate and design a space in Sweden’s ICE hotel in 2010 and producing a short film for Channel 4’s Random Acts in February 2012. Media coverage of his work has been extensive, with features in influential print magazines such as Juxtapoz, Graphotism, and VNA.

Exhibitions featuring INSA’s work have been staged in various venues and cities, including “Self Reflection is Greater than Self Projection” at Londonnewcastle Project Space in London, “Belong/Belongings” at Yves LaRoche Project Space in Montreal, “Gloss” at Above Second Gallery in Hong Kong, “Women on Bikes” at Hewett Street Gallery in London, and “MORE MORE MORE” at Fifty24SF Gallery in San Francisco.

Overall, INSA’s work pushes the boundaries of art, design, and social commentary, challenging both himself and his audience to rethink traditional norms and perspectives. His multi-disciplinary approach and willingness to engage with new media and technologies make him a contemporary artist worth watching.

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