Where I work: The Blackbook Collective | Shoptalk | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Where I work: The Blackbook Collective

A gallery, workshop and art supply store aimed at shining a light on local mural art and legal graffiti

“We started the collective last September,” says Michael Burt, co-owner with Joey Cook of The Blackbook Collective. “He was doing a lot of large-scale murals, I was doing commissioned artwork; we linked up through that.” Advocates for legal painting, the duo opened the art supply shop and gallery at 5540 Kaye Street at the end of May. They also work with local groups and schools teaching kids how to spray paint; the goal is always to beautify and respect the community. “I’ll tell you right now, the people destroying the city don’t buy paint from us,” says Cook. “We want legal places for people to paint in a way that helps the city.”

The Blackbook Collective shop sells over 200 shades of paint: “We have the best colour selection in Halifax,” says Cook. “The cheapest stuff is $5.50 a can, which is cheap for an artist brand,” says Burt. “Even Montana Black, I call it the Cadillac of paint, is only around nine bucks.” The shop also sells shirts and clothing, Instance socks, book bags and original, consigned artwork. They’ll show customers how to hold the can, blend, fade and with the Collective, they keep the network of Halifax street artists strong.

Located in the Hydrostone area, the boutique features a gallery and workshop warehouse in back. “We’re professional artists, this is what we do for a living,” says Cook. “As a skateboarder, I know how shop dynamics work, so we’re all about supporting the kids, teaching them that it’s cooler to paint in legal spaces.” The shop is the hub of the collective itself. “If you show up and hang out, you’re part of it,” says Burt. “We get jobs and stuff, too, so we like to have as many artists on hand as possible.” Of course, Burt and Cook also work outside—with the collective, they recently painted a new legal wall in Hubley.

Burt and Cook want to expand the retail side. They’ll soon have Blackbook Collective t-shirts with artwork by UBER5000 and more art shows with big names. “The line between street art and fine art is invisible, especially now, with Banksy,” says Cook. Burt adds: “We just want more visible art and legal graffiti spaces in Halifax. We want to build a place where people can do this art where people can see it.”

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