We’re proud to bring you a guest post by our friend, Paris-based French-Canadian, Dudy, who’s taken time out from editing her international street art blog, Onewalltoanother.com, to do an interview with the awesome Paris street artist, Gz’Up!
Quickly, an introduction to Gz’Up: he’s French and lives in Paris; his street art consists mostly of anthropomorphic octopusses pasted up high on street corners (214 to date); and he’s angry about people nicking his work from the street.
Can you tell us about your artistic background and what brought you to street art?
I began doing graffiti at the start of the ’90s and then stopped between ‘96 and ‘97 for military service. I started up again in 2010, but with a “street art” orientation, to bring back the balance with all those artists who exhibit only in galleries. To give street art back to the street.
When did you put up your first octopus?
It was in May 2011 and it was a collage made of hard board. I’ve been busy since then; to date, I’ve placed 214 Octopuses.
Do you only put your work up in Paris?
Right now Paris is still a good playing field as there’s an audience. Later on I’d like to tackle the provinces and cult cities, like Berlin. There is actually a place I’ve wanted to put a piece for almost four months, but every time I get there the police arrive, plain-clothed in their Ford Focus, or in a police car. It’s around Odéon and this place is pretty well guarded and very crowded, day and night. But I’ll succeed.
Do you prefer creating your Octopuses beforehand, or the thrill of spraypainting them on location?
The works I make beforehand that I put up high stay longer and take less time to put up.
How do you feel when your pieces are removed?
It pisses me off every time. When it’s the street-cleaning service, it’s the game, I can understand. But this service isn’t the most active, far from it. When it’s done by pseudo-collectors, I don’t understand it. They can go to hell. Street art is changing right now and it’s probably coming from the art market with its indecent prices, hence the interest for jerks to rip off the work of Invader or Gregos, for example. Since the arrival of the internet and illegal downloading, maybe people think that you can take whatever you want without paying. Soon we’ll have a Hadopi [French anti-copyright infringement legislation] division against street art thievery. If they really like the work of some artists, the best thing to do is to let their work be exhibited on the walls.
Do you chose in advance where to put your pieces or do you improvise?
At first everything was planned and I used to identify every spot. But after a while, I started to improvise more, which allows me to exhibit in places other than the exclusively street art areas, like the Marais or Montmartre. Thanks to Google Maps for its valuable help.
Some street artists work together or put their pieces next to each others. Is this the case with you?
No, my goal is to be as discrete as possible. Walking around in a group with ladders, big bags and a glue gun, you’re sure to get caught by the police before being able to put anything up. This way I don’t depend on anyone else: if I don’t feel a plan or an action, I don’t do it. I take my time: if I must wait 30 minutes before acting, I do so.
ave you ever been caught in action?
In my graffiti period, yes, many times.
Do you feel that the octopus design, which allows you to be identified, is also a limitation?
No, I don’t see it that way. On the contrary, repetition helps you to be known and get identified. As I never make identical octopuses, I don’t get bored. Between two different pieces, there’s often a whole world.
The octopus design comes from the videogame Wonderboy and your pictures are frequently inspired by games or cartoons from the ’80. Are you a gamer of just nostalgic?
Gamer: it happens but I have less and less time. Nostalgic: certainly. I recognize myself a lot more in the ’80’s or ‘90’s sprites, and it’s the same for cartoons. I have strong memories about old Game Boy and SNES games. It was magical.
Your pseudonym is taken from a line the famous West Coast rap album Doggsytyle, “Gz up, hoes down”: Snoop Dog fan, little misogynous, or both?
Well, I used to like Snoop, but he’s changed side so much since that I don’t have an interest in him anymore. Though, the first album, and maybe the second, is still a big classic.
Definition of misogyny: hatred of women. It’s totally the opposite, I love women. They’re wonderful and so beautiful.
What is the importance of street art for you?
It’s more important than all the crap being forced upon us by television. It’s a drug for me. How many street artists were outside last winter at -8°C?
What are your plans for the future?
Paste again and again to become the number two of French street art. Maybe create a Facebook account but I’m afraid I won’t get any friends. Anyway, I can be found on my Flickr: flickr.com/photos/gzup
All photos copyright Dudy at onewalltoanother.com unless otherwise stated.