By Michel Fily, May 5th 2019
Street Artist for over 10 years, IN THE WOUP has always been inspired in his work by the Geek universe and its infinite wealth. As a child, he quenched his thirst for imagination with literature, cinema, mangas and board games … Mosaicist, he practices Pixel Street Art, working in France, but also in Mexico, New York, Canada, Spain, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and even the Himalayas! Urban Street Art Urbain met him at the Peinture Fraiche Street Art festival in Lyon.
Hello, can you introduce yourself to the readers?
My name is IN THE WOUP, I’ve been doing street art for fifteen years, I started stenciling before learning mosaic and Pixel Art, which are my favorite discipline today. I played a lot in my youth on the Nintendo and the super Nintendo that totally permeated my art. I like everything that’s very colorful. I make Paper Art, collages, illustrations, balloons, stencils and mainly mosaic. I have not studied art, but I have been drawing since I was very young. I have always loved plastic art. I like working with my hands and that has naturally translated into the choice to become a mosaicist. My discipline is a slow and laborious process.
Sometimes I envy graffiti artists who spray directly on the walls, because of the direct aspect of their art, while my work requires a lot of preparation time, hours or even days if we take into account the drying time. I buy my tiles, I underlay them with a special tiling paint, then I prepare my creation upstream to the drawing, to define the number of tiles I need per color. Then I color them, one by one, before assembling them and sticking them on a net with a special glue. Finally I stick the work with cement, a special mixture of powder and water that I prepare myself. It is a very pleasant process, but sometimes a little frustrating, because the pose itself lasts between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, whereas a whole work preceded it … My studiop is in Lyon, on the slopes of the “Croix Rousse” area. It is a shared studio, with other artists who practice different disciplines: stained glass, leather, etc. It is very rewarding to confront myself with their creations, it stimulates my ideas, I have many of them that I try to implement gradually.
I do not sign my works. I never give my name and I show my face as little as possible. My art is my signature. I want people to be interested only in my creations. IN THE WOUP comes from the name of a folder I had on my computer, where I stored all the pictures of my work. The folder was called “WOUP” and all my art was in it, so I chose IN THE WOUP for alias. Over time, this name has made sense for me, it represents my universe and its evolution.
Have you tried other media than the walls?
I published a book a year ago, called « Once Upon a Geek ». It’s a little nod to « once upon a time », because I love stories. It is a work between the world of science fiction and fantasy, illustrated with small black and white drawings, with many nods to the Geek universe, but also to literature, comics, mangas…
What are your inspirations?
The world of video games, especially Super Mario World Z and other « crossovers » by Mario Bross. I think I made more than 140 tiled Marios, until today, each time characterized by a different universe.
What formats do you work on?
I usually use 2.5 cm square tiles. For Peinture Fraiche, I did a big work, for which I used tiles of 5 by 5. But as I’m not a millionaire and everything comes from my pocket, I can’t aim greater for now… And also, the Street Art being always illegal in France, the principle is that to linger as little as possible on a spot. So, I disguise myself with a constructor vest and a hard site helmet and I prefer small formats that I can stick quickly. I am rather lucky, so far, because my works are not destroyed. On the contrary, people clean around so they stay visible…
Do you prepare your Pixel Art on software?
I am pretty unskilled in this area. A friend made a computerized grid for me, that I fill in with “Paint” and it is very laborious. I spend hours doing color tests, the result is not always very « clean » and I use the help of people who master these tools better than me. Initially, I drew on sheets with small squares before scanning them. It’s only been 2 or 3 years that I’m working with “Paint”. I would like to learn how to use “Illustrator”, but I have not started yet … The tools I use are not necessarily the simplest, but they are the ones I master best.
For Paper Art, I do manual cutting with a scalpel. My collages are based on visuals that I find on the Internet. I contextualize them to pretend that fantastic characters came to visit our world. I also practiced Street Flaking (artistically repairing the defects of the streets: cracks, potholes, etc.), like Ememem and Samsofy who works with Legos and Playmobil. I stuck on bus shelters, I have the project to customize lamps … I am open to everything.
What are your influences ?
Mainly, the Geek universe, the Nintendo, but also literature, cinema, animated films and Heroic Fantasy… I read a lot of Franco-Belgian comics and mangas. I like board games, they enrich my logical mind and give me a lot of good ideas. I even created two board games! The idea of the first one is to survive and to explore new worlds. The other one is called Geek Master, it’s a Geek version of “Burger Quiz”. I do not only deal with the graphic part, I create the whole game systems, the rules, the number of players… Among the artists who inspire me, I must quote Invader, the « boss » of my discipline. I would really like to meet him someday.
Mosaic Street Art is a discipline still little known by the public…
Invader opened the way. Today, we are quite numerous in the world, each with its own technique. And our art is more and more easily accepted and appreciated, because it is more affordable for people and its appearance is less aggressive to them. Someone told me recently that, according to him, it is because of the « square » character of this discipline. It is well defined, the contours are clear, it reassures people. Children with their parents, the elderly, everyone stops easily to take pictures. My works convey a very colorful universe. And then, everyone knows Mario, it brings back passers-by to their childhood. It makes them smile and gives them joy.
What reaction do you expect from people who see your works in the street?
My message is a positive one. I do that because I like it and I want to please people. If I succeed in giving them happiness, I won my bet. One day, I passed by a Mario I had stuck on a wall the day before and a little old woman stopped in front and said « Oh, it’s Mickey Mouse! (Laughs). She did not recognize the character, but it did not matter, because she was happy. I have never had a negative feedback on what I create. Sometimes, it is the children who explain the characters to their parents, because they know them better…
Do you consider yourself as a Street Artist?
Yes, of course, although I do not think too much about these things. It’s always weird to say « I’m an artist ». But if an artist is someone who creates things, then yes, I am completely an artist. I have already done a dozen exhibitions since I started. Peinture Fraiche is not the first festival I participate in, but it’s clearly the biggest one. The invitation of Cart1 delighted me and it is a great pride for me to be among the big names that participate in this festival. To this day, I do not yet make a living out of my art and it costs me more than what I earn, because the materials are so expensive… The prices of my works in the galleries are still low but I hope someday I can work only in my art. I have several ways to make it evolve towards something better. When I exhibit, I build everything from A to Z: the mosaics, of course, but also the wooden frames, the hooks… I would like to try to make detoured works, so that the support follows their contours, to make larger formats, which are very visual. I sell prints, Paper Art, but also objects decorated at low prices, because everyone can not afford to pay big money and I want everyone to leave with a little piece of my art. Even if I earn almost nothing. In the past I was pretty savage, like some other Street Artists, who do not want to be present during festivals. Today, I am happy to be able to interact with the public and with other creators.
What are your dreams ?
I would like to receive a letter of convocation from Hogwarts to enter the first year of the school of witchcraft; I tried to apply, but I have not received any response so far (laughs). Seriously, I just became a dad, it’s a wonderful event that happened to me. And a lot of good things accompanied it. I will perhaps sign soon to do a big wall for a company in Lyon, a huge Mario… I would like to travel in Asia, North America, Japan (I am very interested in the history of this country).
If I were the genie of Aladdin’s lamp and you could raise three vows, which would they be?
I’ve been waiting for this question for all my life! My first wish would be to be able to speak all languages, that of plants, of all men and all animals. My second wish would be to be able to clean the whole Earth from the pollution that destroys it. And also bad guys, if it’s not asking too much (laughs). Finally, my last wish would be to be able to possess at will the powers of all the heroes I love, just by thinking of them. Seriously, like all Street Artists, I’d love to be able to create anywhere in the world, starting with New York, then Tokyo in the iconic neighborhood of the video games.
Is there a question that I did not ask you and that you would like to answer?
I’m thinking about the concept of transmission. When young people contact me on Messenger for me to explain my techniques to them, I do it gladly. I believe in sharing information and I see this as my contribution to the future generation of Street Artists. In my youth, I was a children animator and I taught them how to make stencils. Several years later, I learned that one of them became a high-level stencil artist. I am happy to have lit the spark in him. I like the fraternal side of the urban art. We are a family.
“Peinture Fraiche” (Fresh Paint) Festival, 10 days, 70 artists, 12 countries. 3rd to 12th of May 2019, Halle Debourg, 45-47 Avenue Debourg, Lyon (Metro, Tramway, station Debourg).
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