Interview with Liliwenn

Interview with Liliwenn

By Arden de Raaij

Even though there is an ocean of graffiti and street artists out there, it seems like real talent always finds a way to the surface. In past articles we have already told you quite a bit about French graffiti / street artist Liliwenn. Her works, consisting out of touching illustrations to powerfull graffiti portraits, have a very strong identity. Every paint splatter is like a signature. We just know Liliwenn is one of the artists who is in it for the long run. Better yet, she does not have a choice.  We decided to pick her brain a little bit to let the world know more about this impressive street / graffiti artist, so check out the interview with Liliwenn!

Where are you from, and where are you going?
I come from Brittany (France), a lovely place near the sea. Projects and ideas constantly gestating and growing or to stay put for a while, but never fall into oblivion because each project has its own timeline. I have some artistic collaborations and I work alone too.

Wax Tailor called me to put my painting on a big screen during his tour for his new album. Like a decor for two lovely melancholic songs. So, that will be possible to see it in a lots of towns in the US and Europe and in good concerts venues such as Olympia & Bataclan in Paris. It’s a nice collaboration because his music inspires me a lot. Art in first…

I’m working on performances too with the crew “LeS LiOnNeS eN cAgE”, the goal is to mix arts, so, we paint during concerts, festivals, etc… And there is the “Mind Painters” project with Mattic, talented writer and singer but I will tell more about it in 2010 ;).

I will have some collective exhibitions soon, Showcase from London proposed me to exhibit my work, so, on sept, 30th some of my paintings will be in Brick Lane. I participate at the “Square Route” exhibition too (October). It’s organized by Lielow & Sketch in the Graham & Oldham gallery. And on Feb, 2010 there will be my first solo exhibition in Brittany. I have 6 month to prepare it so, I will tell more about it later.

I would love to exhibit my work in a gallery where I could paint on the walls to create a universe.

There are also some musicians who ask me to make their cover albums and my personal work at home and in the street. Soon I will spend 8 days in London with the goal to paint as much as possible even if I know that the time will goes quickly… What I would love is to travel in more countries, still to discover, to feed myself, to paint in other places and to share by pictures.

In first I do art for my pleasure and I follow my inspirations.

What got you into to street art and what makes you keep on doing it?
I really discovered urban art in London with some friends who are old school graffers/painters. I was very interested about the diversity of this art. This has a real story and there is so much things old and news to discover. That inspired me a lot because I feel like this art. Same mind.

The second reason is that in the street it’s another space. Sensations are different. You can paint on very big surfaces, it’s not the same emotion than when you paint on a canvas. And you can play with it. For example I love very old walls, damaged walls. The environment has an important part in the creation, it’s very interesting.

I love to move, to walk and to paint outdoors is very good for me. I love to discover new things, new places. In the street there is everything… Each detail can be an inspiration.

I discovered the sharing too. Before, I was not showing my art. I was very lonesome (I still need to be on my own and it’s important for me, but to communicate and to share is very good too. I need the both). I think that street art is a real sharing; it’s very different than to paint at home and to show art in a gallery. Different spirit. This art is unique but very varied. And more, it’s for everybody. Like an opened door.

What is your favorite item to take on the road with you?
A sketch book! And a book too. I love to read (when I was young I was addict to drawing and to reading…. I was mad for it) but I don’t have time anymore… So, when I’m traveling I take the both and I enjoy it, I don’t see the time going.

Best street art spot we should check out:
Erm… Tell me! 🙂

Do you prefer doing your work legal or illegal?
I would love that every place would be free to paint… We need more places, more walls, more doors (doors are cool to paint too), more everything. Art has to be everywhere in really more places. I don’t paint in the street to be a bad girl but I’m not either the sheep who follows the crowd. I do it to share art, to put colors and movements in our urban landscapes. Street inspire me a lot.

How much does art influence your everyday life?
I feel it every day in my life. It’s inside me since I was in the tummy of my mother. Art still has influenced my life. When I was young I wasn’t playing a lot with other children, I was drawing… (and reading) all the time. At school it was the same (my teachers were unhappy). It’s a feeling, it’s inside me. I can’t live without it and that feeds me. To go in a gallery, to see good art in the street, to share art with people. All this feeds me and makes me happy. There are other things in my life, other interests, but all can inspire me. It’s my drug.

What was the first thing you put up on a wall?
My eyes 🙂

Is there any artwork you consider your best?
Wow… Difficult question. I never was totally happy about my work. I think that I still have to improve. I think that when we make art, somewhere, we are looking for ourselves too. It’s like going deep in our mind and to express our feelings, our personality. Even when we are creating a subject which is not about us (it’s rarely about us anyway) you can find the personality or the feeling of the artist in his paintings. By details, colors or other things, because the artist put his heart and his mind in his paintings. It’s a work of heart.
So, that is never finished because it’s a whole life. To find ourselves and to improve and to discover new techniques.
Actually I would say”The little girl” or “No war”. They are very representative about my emotions. A lot of paradoxes and contrasts. Not the better because I have a long way to go, so… we’ll see later.

Which artist would you like to work with in the future?
There are a lot of artists from who I love the artwork. I love the work of Vhils, JR (photography) and other artists. Currently, they’re not the only ones but the artists whose work I watch a lot are Bruno Leyval and C215. I love their work because I feel a lot of emotions in their paintings and that touches me. It’s human, it’s not empty, there are stories and sometimes there are causes. I like the work with Indian ink of Bruno Leyval a lot because it is not only amazing, but there are a lot of contrasts too. I like the way of his work. And the work of C215 is full of colors and emotions and also his emplacements are often a very good choice. I remember the first time that I saw a painting of him. A face of a sad man on a blue and white damaged wall. Wow… That was crazy. I never felt emotion like that in front of a painting. Their paintings are talking, it’s alive and unique. So, yes I guess that could be nice to work with them.

What is your favorite movie/gaming/cartoon character?
Erm… To be honest I don’t watch TV and I don’t play video games. It bored me, so, it’s a difficult question. I love the movies of Miyazaki, Totoro, Chihiro, etc, etc… They’re always a travel for the mind.

What is your favorite music/genre/artist/album?
I have a reggae/hip hop culture (from when I was young). Now I am eclectic. The discovering is the better thing. I love the music of Cocorosie, that I have had the pleasure to meet recently. I had shivers during their concert; they really have their own style. Their music touches me a lot. I like Wax Tailor a lot too and of course Mattic with who I work. Chinese man (is great) too, I listen to it a lot. Madlib, but also Louis Armstrong and old stuff like Brenda Lee, Otis Redding, Billie Holiday, etc. There is too much to name.

If you could fill a swimming pool with something, what would it be?
Ocean. A sea swimming pool with seahorses (and a Japanese garden around it with some beautiful natural wood sculptures and some pretty uncluttered paintings on rocks)

Favorite city, and coolest thing about it?
I won’t talk about cities, I’ll talk about countries. I traveled a lot when I was young because of my father (a world traveler). It’s also a drug and I really miss it. When I was young my favorite country was Morocco. I love the south for the sun but even more: the culture. I slept a lot at peoples homes and the hospitality was incredible. From all places I went to, my best souvenirs are from this country. I went in a town very near the Sahara when I was eight, I don’t remember the name but it’s still in my mind. The houses didn’t have roof. They didn’t have a bed to sleep in and not a lot of food. Children never had seen a simple pencil and that was magic for them to see that we could write with it. That was 24 years ago. People were so poor but so rich in their minds!

When you see this at 8 years old, you understand a lot of things. They gave us wonderful hospitality and the sharing was really awesome. I remember Essaouira, Fez, and Marakech too. Too many colors in the market. I loved to watch spices, fabrics, etc. Like in a dream of colors. The culture was very different and interesting.

Now, I would love to see South America and Tibet. The world is amazing. Differences in the cultures, the landscapes, the people, is an inexhaustible richness.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I will do my best to improve. To keep my own style and to improve this as well as my techniques. To share more and more emotions by my pictures, to put my art in a lot of places, improbable places.
I do not only make street art but I notice that a lot of people stick a stereotype on ‘street art’, without digging any deeper. It would be good if they would open their eyes and that they’d stop these preconceived ideas. Art does not have to be in a closed frame. It has to be free and creation has to be unending and without limits. We are not sheep and the best thing is to discover by ourselves and to make our own decision. To push the game further ahead could be a good thing but I trust on some other artists to do that too. 😉