One Croydonian has high hopes for the borough’s future.
The founder of CDN, Wesley Baker, is a photographer and event organiser based in Croydon. Wesley is one of many community members actively working on the downtown area’s regeneration and specifically the street art movement. After leaving Coventry University, Wes returned to Croydon and began immersing himself in the tech and art communities. He was frustrated with people’s misconceptions about Croydon and aimed to create a better image through branding.
“I would talk to people about Croydon and their eyes would glaze over and the shutters would come down,” said Wes. To combat Croydon’s negative image, in 2016, Wes officially started his brand called CDN. He was hoping to create a new brand for the borough and organize events to show the community how great Croydon can be. Inspired by the iconic ‘I Love New York’ logo that helped save New York’s image, Wes sought to create a logo and brand for Croydon.
CDN is an abbreviation based on the railway codes given to areas such as LDN for London. Although, the Croydon based brand also has multiple meanings such as “Cant Do Nothing” and “Culturally Diverse Network”. Wes would like the brand abbreviation to be fluid and mean anything that the community would like. Wes began designing shirts with the CDN logo to raise awareness of his ideas. “I thought people could wear it with pride if they took to it,” said Wes. He designed the logo with multi-coloured triangles that symbolise different cultures and diversity in Croydon. Wes previously wrote an article for The Croydon Citizen back in 2013 about the abundance of unpainted concrete. He references the movements happening in other parts of London hoping to inspire croydon businesses and the council to support street art. Now that the street art community has some serious momentum, Wesley is taking advantage of the situation to create memorials of Croydon’s greatest musicians.
Wes’ brainchild called the Street Art Jam was held on 23rd July. Twenty-three artists came together at the Croydon Arts Quarter to celebrate Croydon’s past and future. The people featured in the event were live musicians and street arts. Wes was inspired by the Femme Fierce street art event that took place in the same area two years before. “The Street Art Jam was a mini festival based in street art with the theme being Croydon musicians throughout the ages,” said Wesley. The festival combined live mural painting by local artists and live acts by local musicians. They street artists were asked to paint the likeness or a concept related to a significant Croydon musician who was associated with the borough. Featured on the walls were musicians such as the famous singer Amy Winehouse and grime artist Stormzy. The Street Art Jam only covered a fraction of the forty-eight musicians who Wes thinks should be represented on concrete in Croydon. Although the event did not go perfectly in Wes’ eyes, he was happy just to see community members coming together. “I think that the Croydon people have been crying out for events to go to. They want to do stuff in Croydon,” said Wes.
Wes has extremely high hopes for Croydon’s future and is already planning next year’s Street Art Jam. He plans to use CDN to start multiple community projects. Wes is currently brainstorming ways to incorporate youth into street art culture. He would like young artists to know that “you can be a part of this, you can make a change and shape Croydon in your image.” CDN is constantly encouraging local artists, whether they be musicians, painters, photographers or designers to be proud of the community. “You don’t have to leave to make it. You can stay where you live and make a difference. Be a part of the scene,” said Wesley. “We are the Croydon scene. Come into our community and see what we’re doing.”