Alleluia! 2 | Artist - Zabou. Artwork installed - May 2014

Would you say, as a street artist, you are largely self taught?
I would say mostly. The first time I went painting, I had a friend who taught me how to use a spray can, explaining the technical side of it (pressure, caps etc.). When I started my stencils, I literally just taped some cards together, started drawing, cutting, and it worked. By meeting other artists over time, I got some extra tips. But really it's experiencing it that made me learn and improve my technique.

How does working as a graphic designer, and having an MA in Digital Arts influence the work that you create?
I think working as a graphic designer and having studied visual arts influence the way I compose my artworks, how I use colours or the space for instance. The digital tools makes my work faster to be designed or create visualisations, but I still want to keep that handmade touch by drawing my stencil onto the card and cutting them myself.

Alongside fellow compatriots Thierry Noir, C215, Invader, Ashes57, Thieu are french street artists adopting London as a home from home?
We're invading!!! London is a great place right now to paint or being a creative in general, there is so much going on and so much potential. I'm not surprised it attracts artists from all over the world.

Your work conveys a bold cartoon narrative, sharing a similar melodramatic undertone to American Pop artist Roy Lichenstein. Likewise, there exists a bold, iconic narrative which engages the viewer. Can you explain more about the graphic dialogue your artwork creates.
I like viewers to interpret what they see freely. What I could say is that I like producing artworks with a cheeky or satirical message. I sometimes re-use imagery from the past like 50's ad or religious paintings to create contrast by mixing them with a more contemporary message or graphics.
I want my style to be illustrative, compared to the usual photography aesthetics that stencils have. In that purpose I draw everything, even when based on photographs. Characters are black and white, wether human or animals, and can be surrounded by colours. My paintings also include drippings and splashes.

Presenting strong feminine characters, you also manage to subvert the fragile stereotypes Lichenstein centred much of his tragic girls series around. Is this sense of empowerment an ongoing theme you are exploring?
So I've never heard the words 'esprit de corps' before hahaha, you're teaching me French!
To be honest I don't really know, every woman has a different experience with street art. For me it was great to be part of this event to meet other female artists, I simply knew only a couple before that. I've been painting with mostly male artists since I've started, but I don't mind.

Are the growing legions of female street artists presenting a different urban landscape to their male counterparts?
Probably. It's great to have more girls taking part, but the important to me is their vision and work as an artist. The gender doesn't really matter in the end, the artworks do. Actually, seeing what I do, a lot of people think I'm a guy!

Is gender equality something you work towards?
That's not the purpose of my work, but if it encourages it then let it be!

Do you see a time when you can engage in street art as a full-time occupation?
When London become cheap?! I'd love to be a full-time artist but for now I need a job to support my art and my life here.

What does a spray can represent to you?
Creation. Possibilities. Power.

All artwork, text and images © Turnpike Art Group 2022.