Read this article in french.
Let’s dive into the world of graffiti with our friend Nesta, multidisciplinary artist who started his career in graffiti. We had the pleasure to collaborate with him during our December exhibition for which we invited several artists to reveal their inner child using the Slate.
Introducing a passionate artist in search of novelty, originality and meaning in a world where we are increasingly overwhelmed by images in the media.
Hi Thibault, can you tell us about your artistic career since you started out?
My name is Thibault and my stage name is Nesta. I started out doing graffiti in 1992 — which is why I had to take another name. I liked drawing but I didn’t enjoy drawing classes. Then I discovered graffiti in the streets of Paris when I was 11. I could not explain it but I was completely drawn to it.
I have always enjoyed reading and interpreting what I see. Graffiti turned out to be a great way to move around and to get to know a city. I started meeting people from the area and ended up taking the leap. At the beginning I would just have fun with my friends and scribble on walls. Then we actually learned about the culture and evolved with it. I started doing actual graffiti and murals and I never stopped. We built structures, organized festivals and invited artists in Grenoble. So I always worked in the graffiti field, taking care of various artists while working on my own projects.
Collaboration has been a key aspect of your career.
Yes, I have always worked with other people and created organizations with others. The last one is the one I created in 2009 with Bazar: Workspray. The goal was to live from graffiti only and from our performances. We made a lot of decorations and gave a lot of lessons. I now work with Short — who is also a graphic designer.
In the meantime, we also created a collective with my wife called “Rock your world” to focus on our personal work. I like having all this, it’s important to be versatile. In some sense, having a point of view outside of graffiti definitely allowed me to get some perspective and explore new things.
So yes, I have always enjoyed collaborating with others. It makes us evolve and opens up creative possibilities. For example, my friend Short has a completely different way of conceiving walls. And it is a lot more fun when there is two of us! In the end, what’s the point if we are not having fun?
What is the last mural that made you really proud?
I am really happy with the mural we created for the Maison des Associations in Grenoble during the Street Art Festival. We were lucky to have this golden opportunity and benefit from a real visibility. Otherwise we wouldn’t have done it! We lived 5 very intense days — we probably lost a few life points on this project. What we enjoy the most is responding to real challenges where we need to rack our brains.
What is your creative process like with Short?
It depends on the project. Each of us usually work on an idea and we then build the concept together. We work a lot with sketches or idea boards according to the project and the amount of time we have. We also like to include personal work of ours for certain clients when it fits the demand.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Originally I have a big graffiti culture even though I decided to distance myself from it at one point. I have a thing for Vasarely‘s optical art or artists who push the limits of graffiti like Pantone. In the world of graffiti, I particularly enjoy artists who know how to play with volume and try to stand out from the crowd in general. But it can only work when there is a real graffiti background and technique behind. I am thinking about Roid or Dems.
So to sum up, I love people who succeed in integrating graffiti elements inside other cultures, who manage to open this world up while keeping the identity of street art.
Tell us about your favorite subjects, your style and your evolution:
I work through phases. In 2014, I put together an exhibition called Musicology and worked on a lot of typography. I then explored pattern and different ways I could dress letters up. At the moment I am working on memory. It is a form of exorcism and my style is becoming a little more illustrative.
Personally, when I see an artist who radically changes his style overnight, it slightly bothers me. So I like to keep a common thread in my work. I try to mix elements to end up with a complex and detailed drawing. I create raw sketches and transform them little by little with letters.
Is there a work you particularly enjoyed during the Street Art Festival of Grenoble ?
I really like Nevercrew’s mural with the whales as well as Veks’s fox.
In the past, graffiti represented people, their city, their culture, their roots… It initiated many movmeents. But today, everything is so accessible with Internet that everyone ends up doing more or less the same thing. I feel like we don’t have the same emulation of colliding styles.
As the public is getting used to seeing thousands of art pieces on the internet all day long, they do not necessarily wonder about the work in question. We end up consuming without trying to scratch the surface. It is complicated because at the same time, internet opens up incredible opportunities in terms of visibility, discovery and collaboration!
What are your favorite tools?
First I love all manual tools: paper, books, pens, pencils. For color I prefer aerosol or else I essentially work with spray paint. As for digital tools, I mainly use Illustrator. Working with vectors allows me to make large formats.
What do you think about the Slate?
The Slate is extremely interesting, even if it doesn’t correspond to the way I work initially. I never enjoyed graphic tablets. What I love most about this tool, is that it represents a new way to move from paper to digital. Moreover, as I give a lot of art classes, the timelapse feature becomes very useful and interesting. It lets people present the way they work and in what order.
The Slate’s key benefits:
- being able to draw directly on a photo for a simulation with a client. I can import an image and sketch on paper in real time to give a rendering idea.
- being able to show the creative process from being to end in order to understand and desecrate the creation.
- having a digital and paper version at the same time, unlike a graphic tablet where you have no physical trace of your work. I like the authenticity of material, books and things like this. The Slate allows you to have both.
- the Slate makes me do things I am not used to and forces me to be more spontaneous in my creative impulses.
What improvements would you see on the Slate?
I would like to have a guarantee when I switch drawings in screenless mode. I know we have feedback from this led when we create a new layer with the button, but I am always scared it hasn’t worked. I would love to have a numbe for each drawing or something like that. Then, I would also like to be able to use different tools with this mode — at the moment, the default brush is the pen. As for Imagink, I would be so happy if I could change the angle of the marker.
But basically what I love with the Slate is how it invites me to do things I am not used to and to be more spontaneous. It never stops and we can have a lot of fun! And I have to say my kids fell in love with it. My daughter wouldn’t let go of it when I brought it home. And finally, it is great for my art classes because people are less frightened to draw with it: the Slate offers an accessible and simple step into art.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have an exhibition planned out with Geopol’Art. There will be this year’s Street Art Festival as well, for which I hope we will have a beautiful wall! I have to say I feel really good in my everyday life in Grenoble as an artist, enjoying the size of the city and making the most of my family life.
Do you have a childhood dream?
I would love to create a huge mural in my hometown (Nantes). And more generally speaking, I would really like for some walls to stay. Graffiti tends to be practical for everyone with its ephemeral image: it is easy to destroy or repaint a wall. Everyone considers it to be part of the culture but I don’t necessarily agree. If our walls could stay, we would be the happiest people on earth. We repaint them because we have no choice or no other support. It doesn’t bother me regarding the posterity of my own work but the posterity of our practice. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will see this in my lifetime.