We spoke to Broccoli Man about his art and our shoe collaborations

Welcome to KOISTORIES, a new series about storytelling. We spoke with Adrian Boswell: the man who renamed Brick Lane in the name of Broccoli, invented Randomism, caused a storm with the NHS and has impacted lives internationally. He is also planning on branching into the Metaverse and NFTs because the real world isn’t enough.

September 16th, 2022 | Abby Brooks

We just dropped a collaboration with Mr Broccoli Man: combining both of our trades. The product is a pair of cowboy boots, adorned with broccoli details that are made-to-order. If you're into crazy art, or you just aren't hitting your five-a-day, then we can definitely recommend them as your next statement piece.

Where did he come from? (Where did he go?)

Our CEO and brand director stumbled upon him on Brick Lane a few months ago, and they were so intrigued by his aura that we decided to build a relationship with him and Koi - going back to visit him and really delve into what he is all about…what actually birthed broccoli man?

A LOT of people go to see him on Brick Lane. The setup features a multitude of framed colourful broccolis, and we saw him interacting with people on the street - who seemed to be a combination of his fans and passers-by - beginning to tell them his story. It all began with the ‘broccoli jungle’ - a print he created 15 years ago. Interestingly, in the last 10 years he has sold 20,000 copies of the print, making it the fastest selling print he has created.

But, he wasn’t always selling the vegetable goods

His street art began when he bought a broccoli from Tesco, cut it in half then sprayed it with gold paint and put it up and down Brick Lane, which he has now in fact renamed Broccoli Lane - as he presents his self-customised street sign. However, one hurdle that he faced with using real broccoli was the fact that after a certain time, like all other vegetables, they go out of date, resulting in a less-than-pleasant smell.

The broccoli was almost deadly

This smell didn’t stop men from the local pubs from partaking in the ‘broccoli challenge’. You may be thinking, what is this challenge? Of course, it entails eating the rancid poisonous broccoli from the wall, which you can imagine resulted in multiple people ending up in hospital with serious illness. Following these cases, the NHS actually contacted the council and said “Tell Mr Broccoli Man, no more real broccoli, he’s going to kill someone” - birthing the saga of the plaster broccoli moulds - which he has placed all over London - hence creating his name Broccoli Man. In this time, he claims he gained over 10 million followers from around the world knowing of and seeing the Brick Lane broccoli.

An international impact

About 3 and a half years ago, he tells the tale of a couple of girls from China coming into one of his galleries, saying that they had lost their friends, but magically found them by following the broccoli trail around London.

The girls felt so joyous and blessed, that they asked to buy some of this broccoli, however it wasn’t for sale: he hadn’t even considered it as a possibility at this point. They weren’t happy. One girl was so desperate to buy the art that she cried when finding out it wasn’t an option, so he told them to come back the following week to give him time to frame them a special piece of broccoli to purchase.

Fast forward a week later, he was greeted by the girl as well as 20 of her university friends, all looking to buy some magical framed broccoli. He honoured their command and they took the art back to China, posting about them on social media. Within one month, he was selling broccolis internationally. Week by week, his sales were climbing from 100, to 200, to 300 per week and beyond. In the last 3 and a half years, Adrian has sold 30,000 framed broccolis: an extremely impressive number. 

But, his dreams are bigger than just the physical world

He will soon be going into the world of NFTs, as he recognises the strength of this market currently. Adrian dreams big, and believes he will be a millionaire in a year’s time, sitting on a beach in Tel Aviv and sipping champagne - promising the listeners that he will buy them a drink if they see him there. I’m in.

“This time next year, I’ll be a millionaire”

Story time for the public is over now, so he then guides us into his gallery, an indoor space adorned with pieces of art in starkly varying sizes. The first piece he shows is the original broccoli jungle, a large and fantastical piece, which appears to be mixed media (collage and some kind of paint).

Adrian is massively inspired by surrealism

He then shows us some of artist Bosch’s early works, a triptych painted in 1503. Adrian believes that Bosch was massively ahead of his time by painting in a surrealistic style back in the 16th century. Interestingly, he educates us on the fact that the church wasn’t a fan of his work back then as they thought it depicted beastiality and humans fornicating with nature. However, he thinks that actually, Bosch foresaw that human beings were destroying the planet.

“I think that Bosch foresaw that human beings were destroying the planet, and he has this vision that humans…were going to be attacked by nature”

His admiration for art continues, when he reminds us that Da Vinci practically invented the helicopter, flushing toilet and cricket with his ‘doodles’.

Anyone fancy a 20 hour non-stop subconscious art session?

Adrian cannot focus on just one piece of art at a time, instead switching between around 20 pieces at once, and he can sometimes be in his working art zone for 20 hours non-stop, going deeper and deeper into the meditative flow of creativity and the subconscious mind, which he describes as a ‘dreamlike state’. His pieces are essentially created from dreams, and are interpreted differently by everyone, so no two people will look at them and have the same story, as it would be their own connections with the images.

He then began to explain something which was pretty much beyond my comprehension.

“When I’m in this state of creativity, I’m in a subconscious mind, but you can surpass the subconscious mind and go to universal energy zone, which is outside our brains and we can connect because everything is energy. We can connect to a higher level of creativity outside of our own minds…”

His artistic process when painting in comparison to making his broccolis is different: he is in the conscious mind when he makes broccoli, but is subconscious when painting and making art.

Adrian has coined the term ‘Randomism’ - a new art term that is similar to surrealism, but is more of a random act of creativity…it’s random-istic.

It’s a lengthy process

He then showed us how his broccoli process works - beginning with ‘cooking’ the broccoli in their moulds (which he can use hundreds of times over), then placing them on a radiator to dry for 24 hours. He makes smaller and larger sizes of broccoli - ranging from little florets to full-sized (like what you find in the supermarket). Perhaps surprisingly, creating these broccolis is a pretty long process. His latex moulds are custom-made for £300 each due to the intricacy of the shape of them, to ensure broccolis don’t get stuck in them. Each is different - he very rarely makes two the same as he likes for customers to have a unique piece.

Artists have criticised him before, lecturing him that he should be charging more for his broccolis, to which he responds “yeah, but I’ve sold thousands, how many thousands have you sold of your stuff?”. Touche. He also likes the fact that the more he sells, the more he keeps the conversation going, and more people can have it on their walls. He is adamant that when he dies, his name will go on.

Hi, I'm Koi's Content and Marketing Assistant. I'm addicted to pop culture, music and finding out what the next trend is going to be; other than this, I'm always on the look out for vegan news. If this sounds like a bit of you, keep an eye out for my blogs as I'll also be covering exclusive behind the scenes content, all whilst adding that spicy Koi flavour.