Eddie Colla attended the School of Visual Arts in York and graduated from the California College of Arts with a BFA in photography/interdisciplinary fine arts in 1991. He began his artistic Career as a photographer, working first for the New York Times and later countless magazines, record labels and ad agencies. 15 years later he has morphed into one who counters the all-pervasive nature of commercialism in public spaces.
Since 2005, his wheatpastes and stencils can be found throughout public spaces in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Miami. Eddie’s work first began to garner national recognition when his street art began incorporating images of Barack Obama throughout the 2008 Presidential Election. His growing popularity landed him attention on internet blogs, features in five published books, and participation in the “Manifest Hope Art Gallery? shows at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and at the Presidential Inauguration in Washington DC. His designs have been transformed many times over, from stickers, album and magazine covers, and on t-shirts notably worn by star Spike Lee during a CNN interview.
Of his Eddie states, “Some people view what I do as vandalism. I assume that their objection is that I alter the landscape without permission. Advertising perpetually alters our environment without the permission of its inhabitants. The only difference is that advertisers pay for the privilege to do so and I don’t. So if you’re going to call me anything, it is more accurate to call me a thief.” So far this year his work has been featured alongside Hush, and Blek Le Rat in the indoor mural show at 941 Geary in San Francisco and at the Arts Fund Expo at Art Basel Miami. ln August of 201 1, Eddie completed an 80 ft mural in Little Saigon, San Francisco chronicling the Vietnamese Diaspora. His work has also been featured recently in the York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune.
Eddie Colla is one of those artists for whom the simple act of categorization quickly becomes a task of Herculean measure. l’m hesitant to call him a “street artist” though his art was recently featured in Steve Rotman’s San Francisco Street Art book and l’m reluctant to call him a “gallery artist” though his fine art was displayed earlier this year in MoveOn.org’s Manifest Hope exhibit. Eddie will probably never admit to being a photojournalist, though the York Times would disagree, and he’s averse to labeling himself a commercial photographer though Fiasco, Casual, Dan the Automator, Dj Keoki and the Heiro-glyphics crew all have album and magazine covers that say otherwise. I’ve seen Spike Lee wearing his
shirts oh television (Eddie also owns a successful clothing company) and I pass by his stickers, stencils and wheatpastes anytime l’m in San Francisco. He is, in the end, one of those artists for whom regardless of which aspects of his work you may be familiar with, his raw talent translates on a universal level, whether it’s on the street you live on, in a gallery you’re perusing, on an album cover you once bought, in a newspaper or on the t-shirt that you’re wearing.