Depaul UK helps homeless youth find shelter, selling graffiti-inspired artworks

Depaul UK, the youth homelessness organization, is collaborating with five graffiti artists—Ben Slow, David Shillnglaw, Best Ever, Josh Jeavons, and Jim McElvany—to narrate real stories of people living in the streets. The stories are depicted on murals, canvases that perfectly fit the theme, and on more traditional paper medium in a limited-edition collection. The Street Stories art project comes as part of the campaign titled “Don’t Let Their Stories End on The Streets” developed by Publicis for the charity.

Pic.: A screenshot of David Shillinglaw’s work created for the Street Stories project

The five impressive artworks have appeared at Dalston and Shoreditch districts in East London. All of them are inspired by real stories of young homeless, highlighting factors that have driven these guys to the situation they’ve ended up in. These are not mere portraits, but artistic renditions of every-day dramas—the works include traditional portrait techniques, lettering, graphics, and more.

The effort has a charitable element as well. Users are invited to proceed to the “digital wall” on the dedicated website and buy a digital square element of the art piece. Each square costs just £80 that buys five nights in safe accommodation for a homeless youngster. Plus, the donators receive a limited edition hand-finished screenprint signed by the artist. The transactions are completed through eBay.

After a square is bought, this very part of the digital wall is getting “cleaned.” So, by donating this money, a person helps erase the problem by helping younger homeless people end the “living in the street” chapter of their life. The site also features short emotional episodes where protagonists, younger homeless guys, tell their stories.

“If you live in a big city chances are you come into contact with homeless people on a regular basis, often asking for money. It’s easy for charity fatigue to set in and forget that they’re not there out of choice, but because they come from circumstances and backgrounds which have given them little choice than to sleep rough,” commented Andy Bird, the Publicis Executive Creative Director. “By telling these kids’ stories we’re inviting people to connect with them as human beings. And using the street as a medium felt like an original and powerful way of doing it.”