graffiti | Interview with Papy Milouz (TSF Graffiti Crew) 24/01/2013

For over 10 years, TSF crew has brought together self-made artists who have come to master the art of mural painting using spray paint. Coming from many different backgrounds, located on various continents, they are originally Graffiti artists, decorators, photographs, illustrators and have each developed their own fields of expertise. One will put emphasis on lettering or symbolism while the other will focus on 3D or anamorphosis. Some will present a realistic world while others will take us to a fantastic universe, uncluttered, wild or dreamlike.

TSF crew is the get-together of all these different skills into common pieces of works. More than just a ‘crew’, the 3 letters represent the trademark of an artist led my several heads, an artist both virtual and real with its many arms and desires. The fusion of many styles thus creates a single style, unique and impossible to forge. Often 3 or 4, up to 9 or 10 when possible, TSF crew artists create over a hundred murals a year. Beautiful, surprising, cruel or poetic masterpieces with redefined horizons, stories told, messages conveyed, dreams, smiles, details...

Q: How did you meet each other?
A: Since childhood. TSF crew was at the beginning like a school friends joke. Then with time and travelling the crew was getting bigger.

Q: When you formed your crew? What "TSF" means? Give me little background.
A: TSFcrew exist since 1995 or something like that. Like I said before, at the beginning it was a school joke. Some friends who waned some fun at school writing on table or walls. TSFcrew means "The Simpsons Family", like the cartoon, and every members had a cartoon characters name like Bart or Maggy... It's a lost tradition for a long time and just Milouz (for Milhouse) is still painting with his old name.


Q: Nowadays, people are constantly trying to grow by actually copying someone and then trying to make a "different" work. What is the actual inspiration?
A: I think, actually the inspiration is maybe more "global" than before. You can see the "new style" the same day the guys paint it in a country in other side of the world. But the way is still the same. When you begin, you see something you like and try to do the same. Then, when you understand what you do, and no just still copy, you find your way and do something by yourself. It's the same story from the first time. The first writers try to copy letters from record sleeve, publicity or comic books and from this time we copy the first writers...

Q: Do you have any role models, people you simply admire?
A: Our graffiti inspiration comes from everywhere. The 3D's from Daim or Seak, and the big walls with a background worked as hard as the letters from this school and French team like MAC, TDM... Today we are looking at everything, it's easier with the web and we eat a lot of images day by day...

Actually we have a lot of other inspiration out of the graffiti. We were looking from a long time at the work of artists like Myazaki, Giger, Ernest Pignon Ernest, Esher or illustration, sifi, Italian classic masters, architecture, Japanese animation...


Q: Probably the most eye-catching aspect of your work is the surrealistic note in almost every design. How would you describe your style?
A: Our style is about telling a story. We hope that our "public" can go with us in the madness of our head. We have a surrealistic, dreamlike universe living in our head and painting it on a wall is the way we find for let it go out...

Q: Do you consider graffiti art as self-expression? Can you make a comparison between your art style and your personality?
A: We consider graffiti art as a self-expression that meet a collective-expression. The style of each members is a part of his own personality mixing with others members personality to create a "TSF crew personality". Our work is about mix all the members quality, envy, universe, personality to create a "super artist" who would be the best of each of us.


Q: It seems like all the members of "TSF" have some similarities. Do you remember when the impression for this kind of work first began? Why did you choose the character design as your main creative line?
A: I think that in all team you meet and grow up together by affinity. I think there is no beginning it's just like " nice we have the same spirit/universe lets paint together". By my side, I "choose" character design cause it's my interest, not just in graffiti but in drawing, more generally. My inspiration is in comics, traditional drawing, animation, and I'm still in when I paint.

Q: Can you tell me about the making process? How do you usually develop the basic ideas to the final design? Do you have a sketchbook?
A: We really create in a collective way. We say a lot of shit, we go on surrealistic story and we try to tell it on the wall. We talk a lot before we create, cause we have to mix the envy and capacity of each members and find a compromise. Then everyone sketch around the chosen idea and we talk more for mixing the drawing and then we paint. And yes we have not one but a lot of sketchbooks.


Q: Looking at your characters on the walls, makes me feel like I'm already a part of the story. lol What is the usual message?
A: If you feel being a part of the story seeing our wall, we win!!! It's the effect we are looking for. We don't have any message for the people, but if just one can have a little time of dream seeing our wall we are happy...

Q: Seems like you guys are passionate in working on various of graffiti styles. From bombing to amazing 3D mural art. Really cool! What style you find as most difficult?
A: The most difficult is the organization LOL. It's like a joke but is true. When you want to have a collective creation and make big walls/installation the more difficult is all the things before painting. When you are painting it's just the funniest part of the work. For  more "artistic answer", I think that the simplicity is more difficult in trying to do something uncluttered and well-balanced is more difficult than to create something with a lot of effect, colors...

Q: Probably the most eye-catching designs are the 3D murals. It's surreal but It makes the person to feel the story behind the wall art. Very impressive. What would you say that is most challenging in working on a piece like that? Is there any particular meaning or you keep it simple and follow the current inspiration while making 3d murals?
A: Thanks, the 3d murals are the continuity of a long process. We first work on 2d murals with 3d letters that seems like going out of the wall, then we work in "trompe l'oeil" trying to make the public thinking that he can walk on our universe. And now we are trying to make our universe going out of the wall.


The most challenging part is finding the good place LOL... It's a more technical painting, you can see it totally just by one place, so, we paint a little, go to the point of view, and go back painting, again and again and again... But we don't want to limit our inspiration thinking about technical difficulty. Technique is just technique, if the painting work at the end it's all what we want. We first have an idea and then trying to find out how we can do it, we never let down an idea just because we think is maybe to hard to do. Technical difficulty is a part of the pleasure.

Q: When would be the "dream" piece you would love to work on? (lol)
A: When? As soon as possible I hope. But I think if we can make the piece we dream about, as soon as we finish, we have a new dream... Nowadays, we dream about a really big wall like a skyscrapers wall :) with a lot of time and all the necessary money/material/etc... for doing it well.

Q: What would you say that is most challenging in being a graffiti artist?
A: That people think that's a serious thing. But we don't really like the word "graffiti artist" we prefer "artist". Cause we don't do "just" graffiti and we respect a lot of "real" graffiti artist working around letters in original graffiti way. We often say : "it's not because graffiti is a true art that all graffiti makers are artist..."


Q: Have you ever had some problems with police? What are your thoughts about the harsh laws, globally?
A: We didn't have any problem with the police. We think that the laws can be hard but every people who start doing illegal graffiti knows it. So you have to play by the rules and don't cry if you get arrested. And challenge make you creative.

- Would you change something?
No

Q: People could be ruff, jealous, crazy, super-cool... As an artist, what are some of your greatest challenges or obstacles you face while making your art?
A: We never care about what people think. For us the important is "do your thing"...

Q: It's probably not possible to choose but do you guys have an ideal painting experience? A chill wall with some friends and beers? Night missions? Trains? (lol)
A: No, It's hard to chose. But we really like traveling, meeting other painters, painting some big walls with friends...


Q: Are you guys always supportive to each other?
A: Yes we are...

Q: Do you guys still enjoy painting as much now, or do you feel jaded at all, do you still have the enthusiasm? What are the goals for the upcoming year?
A: Yes, we still enjoy. What changes is what we want to paint, where, and how. For the upcoming year, we want to travel more, more big walls, more painting...

Q: Art is like unknown destiny to many artists out there. What is the best lesson that you've learned from your art journey?
A: The most important thing is to pleasure itself.

Q: What's your best motivational lesson for the beginners?
A: 1- draw

2- draw again

3- you will never be satisfy (if you stop) so go back to answer one

4- it's just graffiti, don't be so serious with it...

Please feel free to share your work info/ website.
You can find me at www.tsfcrew.com Thanks,Papy TSFcrew