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Stik’s East End life (as a road sweeper…. and other stuff)

The artist Stik courtesy Voices: East London

The London-based arts aficionado Maryam Eisler shines a light on the colourful personalities of the East End—that fabled land at the end of the rainbow encompassing Shoreditch and areas beyond—in her new publication, Voices: East London (Thames & Hudson/TransGlobe Publishing). “I would argue that East London’s vibrancy is at the forefront of Greater London’s evolving persona, a lynchpin reinforcing the city’s international reputation for imagination, individuality, diversity and innovation,” writes Eisler in the introduction. The street artist Stik, whose stick figures (naturally) grace buildings dotted around the district, gives his own take on life out East. Stik says: “I’ve been here for twenty years. I gave canvases in exchange for rent. My old studio on Pitfield Street had a painting on the front called Art Thief which was about me partly coming to terms with selling art and becoming a commercial artist.” And how has he survived? “I’ve done the rounds. I worked as a road sweeper in North London; I’ve worked in pretty much every bike shop
in Hackney. I even did a little light sex work. I wasn’t a full-on prostitute, but I have many friends who are. I don’t think I could handle that, but I have always used my body to make my living. I actually think that the art world is not that different. They’ve called me a media whore, but the art world itself can be whorish!” Stik adds (rather candidly).