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This is why Ben Eine is leading a street art takeover in The Big Issue

Getting the iconic street artist on board for the Art Special was a no-brainer, according to Big Issue editor Paul McNamee who called Eine "a one-off"

Ben Eine hero

Street artists from all around the world are putting their stamp on The Big Issue this week as we launch a special edition with guest editor and celebrated London artist Ben Eine.

He’s a long-time friend of The Big Issue, editor Paul McNamee said – not least because he shares the belief that “those at the bottom are to be as valued as those at the top, that they need a hand UP, not a handout”.

Vendors are hitting the streets with the exclusive 52-page magazine showcasing artwork contributed by more than 60 high-profile global street artists including Pure Evil, Obey, Lauren YS and Vhils.

Not only that, but Eine has created three very special – and hugely collectable – front covers on the theme of UP, to coincide with the Big Issue mantra of ‘a hand up, not a hand out’.

Each eye-catching design carries a version of his signature typography and will be available in a small run of limited edition prints – with a percentage of sales going directly to The Big Issue to support the fight against poverty.

ben eine covers art special

Much of the artwork featured in the magazine will go on show at an exhibition at Jealous Gallery, Shoreditch, London, from March 12-22. The artists are collaborating with Ben Eine’s creative studio OurTypes and exhibiting their work for sale. The majority of these profits will also go to The Big Issue.

Eine is one of the most successful street artists in the world and a pioneer of graffiti letterforms. In 2016 he designed an exclusive ‘CELEBRATE’ cover to mark the sale of The Big Issue’s 200 millionth copy.

The Big Issue editor explains in this week’s magazine that the idea of a guest-edited special edition with him had been floated ever since., adding: “For an artist of such impact and influence, Ben is remarkably, reassuringly, open and down to earth.

McNamee added: “Starting with a simple theme of UP, everything flows. Ben opened his contacts book and brought in some of the biggest street artists in the world. They all took the word and the idea of UP and conceived new work around it in their own incredible ways.

“Ben Eine is a one-off. He could step back, take to a big house in the hills and watch the art world fete him and grow the value of his work.

Instead, he keeps on.” 

Among the must-see elements in the special Big Issue are an interview with Shepard Fairey, the artist who came to widespread fame after creating the Obama HOPE poster; the 1UP collective; a look at the theft of ideas and intellectual property of street artists by major corporations, and Blondie founder Chris Stein.

Readers will also get an exclusive interview with Eine about rebellion, the power of art and becoming a Big Issue guest editor.

Eine said ahead of the launch: “Guest editing The Big Issue has given me the chance to represent street art from my perspective, covering topics as diverse as graffiti and prison to the London Mural Festival,” Eine said.

“Getting ‘Up’ as a graffiti writer is driven by selfish motivations but it led me to street art, a platform where I can now speak up on important matters alongside all those involved in writing and selling The Big Issue.”

The Big Issue arts special will be on sale from this Monday, March 9. Visit your local vendor to pick up a copy for £2.50 or get it online from The Big Issue shop.

Portrait image: IrisDuvekot 2017

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For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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