If you've traipsed the dirty streets of Stoke Newington lately, chances are you may have spotted a girl wearing a box on her head. And as literal and as possible as it sounds, we're actually talking about a special piece of street art…BOX HEAD. The curation of up and coming contemporary artist Begoña Toledo.
From Zaragoza, Spain the 33 year old grew up and was nurtured in a highly creative environment, with several members of her family being professional artists. Her first inspirations came from her mother's unique and intrinsic taste in decoration and crafts and her vast collection of miniature boxes, Mafalda comics and art books as well as her father's technical drawings.
Begoña Toledo now resides and works in London which has proved to be a turning point for her career. She regularly exhibits her studio work internationally and continues to create oversized large scale murals all over the world from shows such as Moniker Art Fair and story walls in NYC. What London has allowed Toledo to do is grow and almost bring Boxhead to life.
Begoña, who is Boxhead?
I guess she is me! Well, Boxhead is my street artist name, and the name of the character that I repeat all over my artwork, being this on a mural, canvas, prints, t=shirts, you name it. She is a little girl, pre teen, whose head is a box… The box actually represents all of us, it's just an abstract representation of our mind.
Where did she come from?
Well, I come from a city called Zaragoza, in Spain. And so does Boxhead, she was born there but moved to Amsterdam straight away. Conceptually, she comes from a realisation that no matter how deeply you think you know someone, or someone knows you, they will never ever really know how your mind really works, your true fears, your true emotions. So I imagine we all walk around with our box heads, filled with all that stuff that is so hard to share with others. What I try to say with my art is that we are alone, and not alone at the same time. We are all connected through our deepest emotions.
Would you rather people know you as Begoña Toledo, or know you as Boxhead?
I don't mind either way, I often use both names and the infamous "a.k.a" between them.
Is she your other personality?
I believe she is all of us, I would say "she" allows me to express what I wouldn’t be able to in words.
What's the toughest part about being an artist?
I'm constantly reinventing myself. I work 24/7… Even when I'm dreaming! I'm not sure if that's tough though, I guess it's just different from other professions. What I find harder now a days is to keep up with the times in terms of promotion. It seems like if you don't update your social medias or your blog nearly on a daily basis you're not doing anything. The toughest part for me is definitely keeping a healthy balance between creating and promoting/administration.
Where's the studio, where do you create?
My studio is in North London, inside a massive converted warehouse where I also live. It's part of a big gated community where loads of other creatives live.
What inspires you when you work?
Music. And the craft itself, really, colour mixing, how the composition flows etc.
What's been the highlight for you so far?
There's been many high points in my career so far. I feel very fortunate for the chances I've been give. I'm one of those people that just works, keeps working, keeps pushing it, and then, boom, I get offered a place at Moniker Art Fair, or I get invited to NY to paint a 4 story building… I guess this last one is the highlight of the last few years. I've just come back from NY where I was part of the grand opening of Rumney Guggenheim, a new gallery in Brooklyn run by Santiago Rumney Guggenheim, who is the great grand son of Peggy Guggenheim. Next to me where Olek and Swoon, whose careers I’ve admired for years, since I started. And there I was, exhibiting with them, and 2 other wonderful artists, Moral Turgeman and Olivia Steele. I also painted a massive 250sqm wall in front of the gallery. It took me 8 days and nights… I will always remember the early hours, going inside the building and chatting with Olek who was there overnight, knitting for her installation.
If you had to collaborate with one person, be it fashion, music, sculpture or anything, who would it be?
In terms of fashion I have plans to collaborate with a couple of independent designers/makers I met in NY. Very excited about that. In terms of music, if I could collaborate with one particular person it would have to be either Madlib or Blockhead, it would probably be in the shape of an animation or something like that. If I could paint a mural with Dalek… oh boy.
What's next for you? What's next forBox Head?
Next in the line of events is a mural in Norwich and a print release, all this through Moosey Art. After that I'm going to Scope Miami with Rumney Guggenheim, and I'll be painting a mural in Wynwood. What an awesome way to say good bye to 2015! 2016 will hopefully be the launch of my clothing line, but that’s still in very early stages. I wish to continue traveling and painting massive walls, nothing compares to living your mark in a city, at a great scale.
For more info on Boxhead, check out Begoña's Facebook.
Written by Joe Khalifa
Photography by David Wilman