AN URBAN LETTERING DIFFERENT FROM GRAFFITI
Your work being essentially calligraphic, how do you distinguish this form of expression from Graffiti as we usually hear it?
Dark Snooopy appeared when I went to wastelands with friends to put my name on the walls, before starting an artistic practice. I would often add a character, which led to being called Snoop, before it gradually became my signature. I then entered a graphic design school where I spent three years, and where I could take calligraphy classes during my second year. With the help of pens, we wrote texts and compositions from the most classical alphabets. This made me want to let go, and it was when I stopped doing it in class that I started to deepen my study of calligraphy, doing it very regularly, sometimes for whole nights with markers in notebooks.
Why are you so passionate about lettering?
I’m primarily a fan of writing. When I started graffiti, it was more to research the letters than to put on my blaze. My goal has always been to enhance the lettering through an aesthetic dimension. Calligraphy allowed me to continue in this way by going to pick up bits of shapes to mix them and get my paw. Since the dawn of time Man has been trying to express himself in a multitude of ways, always trying to say the same thing in the end. Thousands of languages have been created to evoke the same feelings. By bringing them all together, I try to make a kind of melting pot that symbolizes these similarities and testifies to this search for common communication. However, I’m still at the beginning of my journey and I can’t be sure I still want to do calligraphy: I’ve been painting Snoopy on the walls for three years, and six months I’ve been trying to integrate a new character.
What does repetition of shapes and their stylization mean to you?
I have a wall at home covered with shapes that I have in my head, trying to transcribe everything and have them permanently in front of me. In this abstract language everyone can read the word they want. I think it’s cool that when people see these signs they can imagine that I meant this or that word. This diversity of looks counts in my work.
Moreover, I can push the stylization of these letters very far, because being abstract I am the only one who can put a limit to it. Niels Shoe Meulman is one of the artists to whom we owe this. If the art of writing is an art that has existed for millions of years, he has transformed writing so that it goes beyond its initial function, and has engendered this wave of calligraphers who now write everywhere, wanting to see further – and bigger – than the sheet of paper. A letter is a strong motif: the bigger it is, the more impressive it will be.
abstract writing in the street
What does it mean to you to create on the street?
At the beginning I was mainly acting out of curiosity and a desire to let go. But as I did it, it became a drug and a pleasure to share it with people. Where the night offers you the freedom to create, with no one to tell you what to do, the day allows you this contact which is worth it. I create for myself, because I like it, but also because I find it interesting to be able to provoke interaction and reflection with the passer-by. Codex Urbanus says: “If you write on the walls, it’s because you’re enclosed between four grey walls and it’s boring”. There’s a lot of truth in that sentence, even if not all artists see it that way. We live in a pretty grim world, if we can put a little life into it it’s worth it.
How are you going to frame your own frame on the wall? Is that why you use geometric patterns?
At the beginning I had a lot of trouble with that, having a very academic side, framed and regulated to make the whole thing work, especially from a compositional point of view. Indeed, a form closed the drawing without leaving any escape. To start with a composition of three circles – or with triangles – is to create a barrier, knowing that it will fit. Work and repetition helps to project oneself, to better visualize what one wishes to do, and now I draw more shapes to then complete and fill them.
Do you consider that there is a contextual aspect in your work?
My work is so abstract that it’s hard for me to say I’m doing something contextual. Nevertheless, I will still try to create in relation to the place I am in. For example, I like to make the colours I use evoke the tones of the medium around them, so that visually people can see a play between the place and the work. I also use shadows to give an impression of depth that gives coherence to the whole, inscribing the work in a place by indicating that it has lived, is living and will live again.
How do you react to the ephemeral nature of your creations?
As soon as you put something on the street, you accept that it won’t stay in the medium or long term. From then on, it’s better not to get too excited about it: once the work is there, it’s in its place. I don’t do it for posterity, to be able to see my work on this wall for twenty years, but because it’s more for me to do it, to share this moment with friends and then, in a second time, with future passers-by. For the rest, life goes on.
Research and Sharing
What are you going to focus on in your research: shapes, colours, techniques?
I try to use everything so as not to remain confined to a single technique. For example, I can draw a wall with chalk or a bomb. I do a lot of tests to see what works and what doesn’t, which allows me to be malleable enough to be able to adapt. It is also possible to make layers of calligraphy by playing with the different possibilities offered by colour combinations.
Do you feel like you’ve been part of a current since you started?
I feel like I belong to a band, which I would include under the Street Art label. It’s a band in its own right, which generates a lot of things. I’ve discovered a lot of friends and it’s an interesting opening to an extremely open universe.
Your work lends itself well to collaboration.
Collaborations allow you to learn a lot and get out of your comfort zone. It’s bringing together two worlds that are sometimes diametrically opposed. With Codex Urbanus it works very well because my abstract imaginary language combines well with its fantastic animals. But that’s also the case with TocToc and his Duduss or other artists I’ve worked with.