Interview with Philouwer

Philouwer street artist Blog 142 Job 11

Where are you from and what year were you born?

I was born in 1977 in Berck between the sea, a lighthouse and sand dunes. Which must partly explain why I draw so much with marine chalk.

What led you to become an artist and create works in public spaces?

I have always drawn as a self-taught artist since I was little and my beginnings in the street are linked to a combination of circumstances which meant that between the right meetings and the right people, I came to graffiti on the walls of my city , Vitry sur Seine. I started this way by creating figurative spray works among the lettering of other graffiti artists before turning to the pastel technique.

Philouwer street artist Blog 142 Job 11

What motivates you to create?

Creating is above all a very selfish approach on my part in the sense that it gives me a lot of pleasure and that it responds above all to a need for me alone. But it’s also a cathartic practice. It is a very physical impulse, particularly in the fact of practicing directly by hand on the wall, of feeling all the roughness, the texture, of mixing the material, but it is also close to a meditative practice because when I draw in the street, I am often in my bubble and I forget my environment.

Philouwer street artist Blog 142 Job 11

Is there a specific environment or hardware that is an integral part of your work?

I work exclusively with dry pastel which is a very marginal technique in the world of street art. In addition to the result which is fragile and very ephemeral, particularly at the mercy of bad weather, it is a technique which requires spending a lot of time on site. Generally between 2 and 4 hours to compose a work. Except for tracing, I rarely use pastel directly on the support but mainly my fingers to work, like brushes of different sizes intended to refine details, create gradients and shading.

Please describe other artists whose work made an impression on what you do. 

Peyo: Since I started drawing, I have been very influenced by Franco-Belgian comics and by a number of talented authors, most notably Peyo. The Black Smurfs was the first comic book I discovered and I read it thousands of times to understand its style and immerse myself in it. His clear line, both simple and yet terribly expressive, was my first drawing lesson, so to speak.

Uderzo: I had the chance to meet Uderzo at an event and be able to exchange a few words with him. I told him about my passion for drawing and he gave me some advice: “To constantly improve and progress, you have to draw every day!” This is the best advice I have received in my life.

“Once upon a time there were three bad bandits… whose lives changed completely the day they met Tiffany, the little orphan. From three villains she made… benefactors of humanity” – The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungere.

Tomi Ungerer: In addition to Franco-Belgian comics, I was very influenced by children’s illustrators. His work, “The Three Brigands” was both a narrative and visual shock. His use of line and color close to the purity in the service of the story has greatly influenced me and I try to distill a little of this influence in my work in the street.

Hayao Miyazaki: I could cite countless Japanese artists as influences, but the absolute master remains Miyazaki. His way of sublimating nature and living things is an obvious influence. I simply love the poetry that emerges from his work.

Seth artist - street art Paris

Seth: As I came to drawing quite late in the street, I don’t really have any references among street artists but I see myself a lot in Seth’s approach. I like the authenticity and modesty that emanates from his works. His way of treating the theme of childhood and speaking to the child who resides in each of us.

Philouwer street artist Blog 142 Job 11

Do you have a network of other street artists, and how do they support you?

I don’t really have a “network” because as I said, the pastel technique is quite marginal and solitary. I don’t have a workshop and I only work in the street. But I interact with other artists, particularly through social networks.


Philouwer’s Instagram, here.