He is one of the greatest stencil artists of our time. Some time ago he made a double exhibition in Berlin’s Intoxicated Demons Gallery and ATM Gallery. If you have not heard of C215, you should better be careful, because we have spoken with the nice, world-travelling, French artist about his art and his motives!
uac: Who are you? Where are you from? And what means C215?
C215: I am a street art junkie, 35 years old, living in Paris. C215 is just my name, coming from a cell where I stayed a long time ago. It sounds like Chris, but with numbers. I love to hear it said in different languages.
uac: How much does your art affect/influence your everyday life? What inspires you?
C215: I am just cutting stencils and painting everyday. So it affects it completely. Being awkward, art helps me to express my deeper feelings. I just feel so good with, and so poor without.
uac: What have you done before you became the “famous and travelling around the world“ urban artist?
C215: Ahahah, don’t think I am famous, but I was already traveling the world for a while… my very last traditional job was export manager for a design manufacturer. I will never work for a boss anymore… and this makes me really feel free!
uac: Which countries have you visited on your way so far and where did you like it best?
C215: That year I painted in India, Israel, Brasil, Poland, USA, Senegal, Morocco and some European countries, but Morrocco is my favourite country so far.
I am just cutting stencils and painting everyday…
uac: What meaning does Urban Art have for you?
C215: Just sharing with people and struggling against gentrification and standardization, by putting some life in the streets through art.
uac: Why have you decided for stencil art? Have you done something else before?
C215: Free hand graffiti and a lot of sketching, but stencil is a mix of both, and then you can paint anything beautiful anywhere without authorization…
uac: Where do you take your motifs from? How do you choose them? And what do you want to reveal with the help of them?
C215: Each stencil has it own story. Most of my stencils come from my own pictures, but some also come from friends, or photographers with whom I collaborate. The most important thing for me is the feeling inside, the expression of the eyes, and the story behind.
uac: Are there differences between e.g. works that you have placed in the south american favelas and the works that we will see from you in Berlin?
C215: You won’t get favela kids but western stuff as homeless people, beggars etc.
uac: What work of you is the most successful (in your eyes)? Which work caused the most reactions?
C215: My daughter Nina portraits, because she wil love them for life, and I only care for her. She’s proud of her father and this fills my heart.
uac: What makes out the difference between Street Art and Graffiti basically?
C215: Graffiti is marking territory by vatching attention on a name (then placing it at the wrong place) while street art aims at placing art in the right place, as if it should have been there forever.
Never follow anyone, never copy anyone, just follow your own style…
uac: If your art would be a musical genre – which one would it be then?
C215: Certainly some Swing, something between Billie Holiday and Django Rheinardt.
uac: What will you do after your exhibition in Berlin? What do we have to expect from you to see in the future?
C215: I will leave for Athens and Istanbul to paint. I have a solo show by Signal gallery in London in May, and a duo show with Logan Hicks this winter in Canada, so I have to work a lot from now.
uac: What would you recommend to someone who wants to get active/make Street Art him-/herself?
C215: Never follow anyone, never copy anyone, just follow your own style and feeling, the streets being the best teacher ever, practice will do the rest!
uac: Thanks for the great answers! Much fun in Berlin and good luck with your exhibitions!
The interview was made in February 2009. More info, photos and videos with and about C215 you will get via Flickr.