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Qwertyuiop cartrain.jpg
Born 1991
Nationality British
Known for Post-Street

Cartrain (born 1991[1]), often stylised cartяain, is a British artist associated with the graffiti urban art movement. YBA artist Damien Hirst has threatened to take legal steps against Cartrain over his art and activities. Cartrain's art has also been appropriated by well-known artists such as Gilbert and George,[2] Jamie Reid,[3] David Shrigley [4] and Mr Brainwash [5]

Early life[edit]

Brick Lane, East London: an area where “CARTЯAIN” tagged pieces appear.

Cartrain said the choice of pseudonym was "random".[6] From Leytonstone, East London, he started doing graffiti art at the age of 12, and initially worked in his local area, but "because no one pays any attention" had moved on by the age of 15 to the back streets near Old Street and Brick Lane in Hackney, and also to central London, even spraying on walls opposite the Houses of Parliament.[6][7]

His work often features notable mainstream figures such as George Bush and the Queen.[7]

In April 2008 Boris Johnson invited him to display his work at City Hall.


example of cartrain's photography

Cartrain started photographing abandoned buildings in 2007 and has been a major influence in the sport of Urban Exploration. He has explored over 150 buildings without permission since 2009 including Millennium Mills, Lots Road Power Station, St Mary's tube station and Walthamstow Stadium.

Interaction with Hirst[edit]

In December 2008, Damien Hirst contacted the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) demanding action be taken over works containing images of his skull sculpture For the Love of God made by then 16-year-old Cartrain, and sold on the internet gallery On the advice of his gallery, Cartrain handed over the artworks to DACS and forfeited the £200 he had made; he said, "I met Christian Zimmermann [from DACS] who told me Hirst personally ordered action on the matter."[8]

A spokeswoman for Hirst said: "Damien is not suing Cartrain. This is a straightforward issue of copyright. Damien owns the copyright to the diamond skull and its image and if it is reproduced without his permission DACS are instructed to deal with this on his behalf."[9]

James Cauty has supported Cartrain, claiming he has a right to use existing images to make a new artwork.[3]

Copyright lawyer Paul Tackaberry compared the two images and said, "This is fairly non-contentious legally. Ask yourself, what portion of the original--and not just the quantity but also the quality--appears in the new work? If a 'substantial portion' of the 'original' appears in the new work, then that's all you need for copyright infringement... Quantitatively about 80% of the skull is in the second image."[10]

In July 2009, Cartrain walked into Tate Britain and removed a packet of Faber Castell 1990 Mongol 482 series pencils from Damien Hirst's installation, Pharmacy. Cartrain then made a fake police "Wanted" poster, which was distributed around London, stating that the pencils had been stolen and that if anyone had any information they should call the police on the phone number advertised.[7] Cartrain made this statement:

For the safe return of Damien Hirsts pencils I would like my artworks back that Dacs and Hirst took off me in November. Its [sic] not a large demand he can have his pencils back when I get my artwork back. Dacs are now not taking any notice of my emails and I have asked nicely more than five times to try and resolve this matter. Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31 July the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned.[7]

Cartrain was subsequently arrested for £500,000 worth of theft,[11] and faced charges for what might have been the biggest art theft in British history.[12]

In December 2009 The Metropolitan police dropped all charges against Cartrain. The Independent wrote: "Cartrain told me that, happily, all police charges have since been dropped and that he's even had a meeting with the Tate to discuss the issue.What's more, he came face to face with Hirst himself at the latter's current show at London's White Cube gallery."[13]

Jonathan Jones, art critic of The Guardian, has spoken out on Cartrain's behalf.[14]


Solo Exhibitions[edit]

2010, Magic Trees, Maverik Showroom, London, UK [15]

2013, This Way Up, Graffik Gallery, London, UK [16]

2015, Not For Sale, Imitate Modern Gallery, London, UK [17]

Group Exhibitions[edit]

2008, Urban Painting, Atrion Centro Socio Culturale, Carugate, Italy [18]

2010, Remasters, The Rag Factory, London, UK [19]

2013, Christmas Wish List, Imitate Modern Gallery, London, UK [20]

2014, Christmas Wish List, Imitate Modern Gallery, London, UK

2015, The Spring Collection, Imitate Modern Gallery, London, UK [21]

2015, The Summer Edition, Imitate Modern Gallery, London, UK [22]

Other activities[edit]

Cartrain has posted a video on YouTube, showing himself putting up a piece of cardboard box as a conceptual artwork in Tate Modern; he states, "I managed to put my cardboard box up in the Tate Modern for two hours without being spotted as a fake".[23] Another video shows him installing a collage incorporating Hirst's skull image, and titled "Damien Hirst", in the National Portrait Gallery.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cartrain. "Cartrain In The National Portrait Gallery", Cartrain on YouTube. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  2. ^ Wroe, Nicolas. [ "gilbert-george-london-pictures-interview" The Guardian 2 March 2012
  3. ^ a b "Artists flout copyright law to attack Damien Hirst", The Daily Telegraph, 13 February 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  4. ^ David Shrigley
  5. ^ Mr Brainwash
  6. ^ a b Trendall, Sam. "Graffiti artist, 15, follows in Banksy's footsteps", Newsquest, 21 May 2007. Retrieved 21 September 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d "Cartrain Steals Damien Hirst's Art (Update)", Clancco, 8 July 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2010. Archived 30 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Akbar, Arifa. (6 December 2008). "Hirst demands share of artist's £65 copies", The Independent, 6 December 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  9. ^ "Damien Hirst 'threatened to sue teenager over alleged copyright theft'12th December 2008", Daily Mail, 12 December 2008.
  10. ^ Preece, Robert. (June 2009). 'Reality check: When appropriation becomes copyright infringement'. Sculpture magazine/AD&P. Retrieved 19 June 2009.
  11. ^ "Teenage graffiti artist accused of stealing £500,000 box of pencils in feud with Damien Hirst", The Daily Mail, 5 September 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  12. ^ Itzkoff, Dave. "Theft of Pencils From Hirst Exhibition Draws Arrests", The New York Times, 4 September 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Jones, Jonathan. "Damien Hirst loses face over Cartrain's portrait", The Guardian, 15 September 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
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  23. ^ Cartrain. "Cartrain Tate Museum ( Banksy style )", Cartrain on YouTube. Retrieved 20 September 2009.

External links[edit]

Images of Cartrain's work