For Conrad Benner, operating Philadelphia-focused art blog Streets Dept injects exploration into the day-to-day routine. Showcasing the best of Philly’s undiscovered street art, graffiti, and city culture is no easy feat. Fortunately, with the right gear in tow, getting around and capturing Philadelphia’s urban beauty is all in a day’s work.
Founded in January 2011, Streets Dept has since thrust Philadelphia’s street art scene onto the national stage, giving viewers from all walks of life a chance to celebrate an everyday beauty that might otherwise be overlooked in the city of brotherly love. As a born-and-bred Philly native, there’s no one better suited to capture the city’s intricate (and occasionally hidden) splendor.
“We have so many art schools and so many young, creative people living and thriving here,” Benner says of his hometown. “There are few cities in the U.S. that can rival the street art and graffiti scene that we have here in Philadelphia, and I count myself as lucky to be able to witness—and photograph—it firsthand.”
Mural by NDA
For Benner, it’s his JanSport packs and duffels that help him, not just keep his gear safe and sound, but allow him to explore his surroundings in style. With the Ranger Collection, JanSport fused enduring silhouettes with innovative functionality and durability that JanSport is known for. Finished in sleek dot camo print on jacquard fabric, the Ranger Collection strikes the elusive balance between standing out and blending in—not unlike the impressive street art scene documented in Benner’s work.
Whether wearing the urban exploration-inspired Hatchet DP backpack, the everyday Axiom backpack, or the Duffel DP, JanSport’s commitment to quality can be found within each silhouette. Considering that Benner’s work could send him on a day long adventure photographing around Philly, or a long-haul assignment, it’s easy to see why Benner is drawn to a truly great, multi-functional bag.
Mural by Ant Carver
“Almost all the time I have my camera with me, a Canon 6D; a notebook and pens to jot down any ideas I get; a water bottle, of course; and my asthma inhaler, because you never know,” admits Benner. “[Because of that] I need my backpack to be comfortable, to be versatile, to be durable, and ideally to look good and fit my style.”
But even with some of the best gear in the game, Benner wouldn’t be able to continue his work under Streets Dept without one key inspiration. “The one thing that got me started has kept me going for nearly seven years: the artists! If it wasn’t for the incredible work these artists and writers do all over Philadelphia, I’d have no blog.” says Benner. “If it wasn’t for them inviting me into their communities, becoming my friends, teaching me more about them and their artwork, and giving me all the heads ups about when and where they install new work, I honestly couldn’t have kept this blog going and growing for as long as I have.”