The French artist OakoAK has become popular with some of the smartest paper works on the streets of Saint Etienne and in several cities around France. We reached him for a quick chat about his beautiful ephemeral compositions and his way of intending street art.
Hello OAKOAK, in the hype Street Art World, full of giant painted walls, it seems there’s no space for tiny clever artworks.. Is that true?
Well, I don't know, there are also some artists who really like to use little spaces as Slinkachu, some works of Pejac, Fra Biancoshock... Perhaps it's not that hype but I really like to use little spaces, for me it's better when it's difficult to find it, and I like doing just a small intervention in the urban element. There are enough places for giant street art and small street art. The most important is that it's on the street and it's free for people to discover and see it.
The most part of your pieces are playing with the urban context, you are able to transform a simple broken wall in something surprising. Do you usually start from city observing or do you search the right spot for a specific subject?
It depends, but generally, when I'm in a city, I walk around and I look everywhere, at everything. Sometimes the inspiration comes in one second and I know what intervention I would like to do precisely. But sometimes I find a specific urban element and I know that one day I will have an idea...For example for the Snoopy intervention, i walked past it every day for 2 months and i knew that something could be done but i didn't know what...and one night without reason i found the idea.
Tell me some about your beginnings, how did you started and what was your urgency nine years ago?
Well, one day i found a specific fire hydrant and i told myself that just by adding two small eyes and one mouth it would be really more "human" and funny. After that i never stopped, trying to find some urban elements where i can change the original meaning.
Your artworks are beautiful but extremely ephemeral, in most cases they could last one day on the streets but forever on a pictures blog. It’s a completely change of perspective compared to traditional street art. How do you feel about it and are you planning to change something in the near future?
About the ephemeral, i really like that principle. I like the fact that tomorrow it could disappear or not. It forces me to find everyday new places, new ideas. It's good to stimulate the inspiration.
After that , depending on the place and the intervention i want to do, i can use paper and glu or traditional stencils and spray. The place tells me which material i should use.
The “Modern Times” entitled piece is a great shot. Is it something you were planning for or the inspiration came out from discovering that spot?
No, i was in the car to go somewhere and i saw that strange machines and i thought straight away to The machines in Modern times. After that i just had to prepare it.
Looking at your pieces I can easily find references to famous street art works, who or what are your main influences?
My influences come from my youth as the humour of matt groening with the Simpsons and Futurama, or comic strip like Calvin and Hobbs. For me that and also the videogame of the 80's and 90's inspire me a lot. I like to use that references, that type of humour !
Tell me three street artists you admire at the moment, who do you think is doing remarkably well?
Actually i really like the works of Pejac. For me it's one of the best artists. His ideas are great, as the conception. It's simple, and it's beautiful. I like the work of Vinnie and also Zabou, two female french artists. It's just beautiful, i can watch a piece one hour and admire it. And recently i discovered an artist in Chicago, E.LEE, and his works are so great, the details, the inspirations of comics. i like that universe.
Here we go. Let’s play with the Proust Questionnaire.
- Your favorite virtue? Honesty
- Your main fault?Impatience
- Your idea of happiness? With a beer , watching a soccer game with friends. and of course discover places
- if not yourself, who would you be? When i actually see my cat i could answer that i would like to be him ...More seriously i don't really know.
- How you wish to die? I don't know how but i want to be able to say just before "it was a good life"
- What is your present state of mind? I'm really fine, i just came back form Chicago! it was so great. i really like this city. And actually i'm preparing a new project in Amsterdam. I have so many things to do , so that's perfect!
Do you feel you there’s something changing in your way of producing art, how has your work evolved from when you were beginning?
It's changing because today i have to think for my tradional art in the street, but i have to think also of the art i would like to do for a gallery. It's different from outside, but it's also motivating!
Do you remember the very first piece of art that you worked up?
The really first was a stencil of the face of Louise Brooks. I like that woman, her style.
These days in the office turns a trick, tell me what will you do, or what would you like to do, in 5 months, 5 years, 10 years.
Well, in five month and i hope that for the next five or ten years i will be still in the streets to find some new interventions to do with the same motivation and happiness. And that I could discover new countries, new cities, new people thanks to that.
What's next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
I have a very cool project for next month in Amsterdam, and i have to prepare a new show in Paris next April.