Scantily clad, long-legged women parade across your computer screen, gyrating to music in an attempt to convince you the sounds are worth listening to. The curves of bare breasts hug a perfume bottle, an unspecified promise being made that this scent will make any woman as supple as the model. Of course, these examples relate to a well-known advertising adage: sex sells. And this is the concept that fuels the art of INSA, his works exploring this commodification of feminine sexuality, utilizing fetishized imagery to confront its appearance in everyday culture.

Who is INSA?

Though he started using the alias INSA at the age of 11, the British artist and designer somehow found a way to maintain his anonymity. Beginning as a graffiti writer when he was 13, INSA “always considered myself an artist, not a vandal,”1Lindberg, Sydney. “INSA Interview.” Steez Magazine, 11 Sept. 2014. so he deliberately moved into a more fine art direction with his murals, installations, and paintings, a perfect (and early) example of which is his contribution — as part of the They Made Me Do It collective — to a 2004 exhibition at Margin London.

The pattern hand-painted on the shoes and canvas in the above-pictured piece has since become known as Graffiti Fetish (2004), a signature merging INSA’s street art style with commentary on the commodification of the female form. A tangle of fishnet adorned legs and high heels, the upper body of the model is never revealed, evoking a sense that who this person actually is has become unnecessary. Her individuality is dismissed, her sexualized elements being the only necessities to ‘sell’ the image.

INSA’s Initial Entry into Designer Toys

On September 7th, 2006, Kidrobot hosted The Paint Ball exhibition, a benefit for Save the Children. Taking place at a pop-up Pirate Store venue, INSA contributed an untitled, hand-painted 18 in. tall FatCap to the showcase. While the paisley-inspired patterning adorning the form itself is more apparent, careful examination reveals that the hoodie the piece is cloaked in has been subtly decorated with the Graffiti Fetish ornamentation, an aspect that would hint at a production piece that would be released the next year.

INSA’s Graffiti Fetish Dunny

This 8 in. tall Graffiti Fetish Dunny collaboration between INSA and Kidrobot was released on August 23rd, 2007, the pink vinyl base minimally decorated with the artist’s trademark pattern. Unfortunately marred by a factory defect that caused the paint to smear on some of the figures, this work came with a removable cloth hoodie accessory, which also displayed the Graffiti Fetish markings.
The Graffiti Fetish Dunny was limited to an edition of 1800 pieces, though there was a 1-in-6 chase variant on white vinyl that accounted for 300 of those copies.

INSA’s Graffiti Fetish Hoodies

INSA collaborated with innovative menswear company oki-ni on a Graffiti Fetish streetwear capsule collection in Autumn/Winter 2005, which included three drawstring hoodies. The above-pictured versions, though, were revisitings of the release timed to coincide with the Graffiti Fetish Dunny‘s availability. Being human-sized versions of the clothing attiring the Dunny forms, these did feature the INSA teardrop logo embroidered on the sleeve, an element absent from the vinyl figure-sized renditions.

INSA’s Heels Screenprints

The Graffiti Fetish pattern would gain its alternate name, Heels, with the release of six screenprints on January 7th, 2011. Measuring 20 × 28 in., these were limited to 45 signed & numbered copies in each color scheme — Mint, Inverted Mint, Pink, Inverted Pink, Purple, and Inverted Purple.
These two-color screenprints were quickly followed by second set made to accompany the artist’s FIFTY24SF Gallery exhibition, MORE. Released on February 10th, 2011, these neon colored versions were referred to as “new San Francisco special edition prints” at the time, referring to their coinciding with neon murals INSA created throughout San Francisco leading up to the showcase’s opening.

Of course, this article represents only a small selection of what the Graffiti Fetish pattern has been employed on, with further prints being released since those discussed as well as a postcard set (2005), Nike Dunk High sneakers (2007), a teacup set (2010), UE Boom speakers (2014), and many further examples. But, to date, the Graffiti Fetish Dunny remains INSA’s sole production designer toy piece.

For more information on INSA:
website (INSAland) | website (GIF-iti) | blog | twitter | instagram

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References   [ + ]

1. Lindberg, Sydney. “INSA Interview.” Steez Magazine, 11 Sept. 2014.
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