4th August 2017

Upfest Street Art Festival

by Jamie Ker, Designer

Last weekend Bristol hosted Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival, Upfest. Jamie Ker was down in Bristol for the weekend to check it out and below he gives us an overview of the festival and some of the cool art he saw over the weekend…

I’m a regular visitor to Bristol and love seeing all the street art you can find. Bristol is known as the home of Banksy, but there are many other talented artists whose work adorn the city walls.

A lot of this work is created during Upfest, Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival, which takes place over three days. Last year over 300 artists from around the globe descended on Bristol, with over 35,000 people seeing what they came up with.

This year it was the 40th anniversary of Bristol’s own Aardman Animation’s Morph, and he popped up throughout the fest as tribute in work done by another renowned Bristolian, artist Cheo. The largest piece featured on the side of well-known local brewpub, the Bristol Beer Factory. Being able to watch one of my favourite artists at work, while drinking one of my favourite beers, was pretty special!




The largest canvas, on the side of the old Tobacco Factory, was given to Brazilian artist Kobra who came up with this brilliant technicolour portrait of John Lennon. His work featuring an Amazonian tribesman was prominent in Rio during last year’s Olympic games and he also has a famous mural of Bob Dylan in the home of our American office, Minneapolis.

The beauty of Upfest is you often get to see the artists at work, so when I saw the Kobra piece it wasn’t even finished yet. The crane also illustrates the scale Kobra and his team was working to. Sometimes this means missing out on some of the artwork, as they’re blocked by scaffolding and artists busy at work. But you can go back once the crowds have dispersed for a proper look see, and it can be pretty fascinating to see the stages of work that go into creating some of these pieces.



Sometimes it pays to look down as well, otherwise you might miss things like this awesome wee polygon bunny created by Annatomix. There’s another similar piece featuring a fox too, but I wasn’t lucky enough to stumble upon that.



Not everything is painted on walls… This inflatable octopus above the Hen & Chicken pub really caught people’s attention, the tentacles waving in the wind in what was quite a breezy day. I should have perhaps taken a video of this, or a Boomerang like all the kids are doing these days, but I’d just had a can of delicious local cider, so…



The street art trail leads you from Bedminster towards Ashton Gate, normally the home of Bristol City FC, but for the purposes of Upfest it became an open space full of artists working on boards stretching some 200 metres alongside the stadium. By this time the heavens had opened, and I felt sorry for the artists trying to beat the rain. There were some great examples of work which can be seen below, and I’m pretty sure I heard the pieces done on boards were auctioned for charity after the festival had finished.


Upfest is really worth checking out if you get the chance. It was a real pleasure getting to see some super talented people at work. Even if you miss the live painting, you get to see all the hard work put in all year round, at least until the next Upfest anyway, where it starts all over again…


Jamie Ker, Designer

Upfest Street Art Festival