Everyone will have seen the fantastic street art around Leicester, but long before Graffwerk was born Graff HQ was here in Leicester supplying art materials, paint supplies and spray paint to artists in the city.
Lockdown has been incredibly tough on non-essential retail and Graff HQ recently appealed via social media as the retail business had been hit so hard. If you don’t know them, they’re based in The Mill where Bitsy’s Emporium is the in house coffee shop. With an incredible range of art supplies plus merch and more, in non-Covid times they also run a range of special events but have now shifted much of the business to online. We caught up with Izzy to find out more about the shop and how people can support them.
How would you describe Graff HQ?
GraffHQ is a retail shop supplying graffiti art supplies materials and additional general artist materials. We have a massive range of colours in a number of brands of spray paints that can be used for a wide variety of purposes.
How tough have the last 10 months been for you as a business?
Lockdown has been incredibly tough for most independent retailers. We don’t traditionally do well online so tapping into that market has been challenging. We are working on improving our offer there so fingers crossed.
What support have you been able to access?
Initially nothing as we are a sub tenant rather than the ratepayer. This past week we were given the good news that there are some smaller grants we can access.
How have you been working through lockdown and can people still access your products?
Yes we have. We’ve been working on our website so people can access our products in an easier way. The new website should be up in the next 3-4 weeks fingers crossed. We’ve also worked on the building (the mill) that we are based in and have been moving stock and working on making the shop the best place it can be.
Of course you’re also the team before Graffwerk. Are these completely separate projects?
Yes; I’m co-director with Anthony Overend of Graffwerk. Graffwerk facilitates Bring The Paint, runs the Mill at Frog Island and delivers the various graffiti art projects you might have seen around the city. We set up Graffwerk in 2017 following the demand we had for commercial work.
GraffHQ was launched by myself and partner Rich Peacock back in 2012 as a graffiti shop to serve local artists. We’ve built a lot since we first launched and now we are based at the Mill it’s in it’s best location yet. Ultimately Graffwerk does the community projects and commercial artworks. GraffHQ is a separate entity that sells paint and art materials.
Your Graffwerk work can be seen all over the city. Which pieces are you most proud of?
Bring The Paint festival is probably our proudest achievement. It takes an incredible amount of work as a team and is absolutely draining but when it happens it’s epic. The response and public involvement continues to blow us away.
Just how important is it in these time for people to consider supporting local?
It’s massively important and I can’t stress it enough. The independent retailers on the streets of your city have a huge input on the identity and feel of a place. They care about what they sell and are personally invested and want their customers to have the best. The quirky shops and cafes stop every city being a carbon copy of each other and keep things interesting.
How can people find out more and shop with you during lockdown?
If you love seeing the artwork itself then definitely follow the @graffwerk page as that’s where all that content is.