Interview Street Art SF

Picture of K2 in front of an art piece
I paint for my own pleasure, for love, peace, hope, happiness, respect.

The 2016 San Francisco Meeting of Styles hosted by Mission Art 415 happened in mid September. It was a much-scaled back event due to a last minute issue with the City of San Francisco. With the artists in transit from other states and countries the Dragon School in Oakland Chinatown offered to find wall space for them. For several days there was a flourish of activity around Webster and Harrison Streets in Chinatown.

We spent several days meeting the artists, watching them paint and getting acquainted with Kamel Moussaoui known as K2 who lives in Cranves-Sales a small French town located in the Rhone Alps on the Switzerland border opposite Geneva.

This was his first trip to the United States so we asked him about his art.

- When did you start making street art? What got you started?

I began to paint on walls in 2010 thanks to Koko and Flo (famous artists where I live) who invited me to paint with them.

Before that, between 2003 and 2010 I organized graffiti internships with the help and collaboration of Denis Evequoz and later with Koko during the school holidays and some Saturdays for the teenagers I took care as on animator for the youth service of Cranves-Sales’s Town hall, the town where I live and work. I was the first person to promote street art and create a street culture in this rural town. I began to paint on the town bus shelters with teenagers from the City Youth Services Program I work for with the permission of the Mayor to to showcase the youth talents and provide the Cranves-Sales residents with an opportunity to discover street art and graffiti and open their minds.

I began to draw portraits and caricatures of my teachers and landscapes when I was 13 during school time in order to pass the time because I was bored. I had my first art show at the age of 17.

- Is there much street art in your town or in near by Geneva?

There is very little street art in my town because it’s small and rural with 6000 inhabitants. There are only the bus shelters I painted with the teenagers, a painting on a school wall again with the youth service teenagers, my artworks with friends (a big and long painting under a bridge and an exterior wall of a pharmacy) and 3 others walls by other artists.

- What type of art do you do? What types of tools do you use?

I paint murals with spray paints. I only do huge manga styled characters between 10 and 20 feet and more if I have the opportunity. I use spray paints, airbrush, acrylic paintings, posca, pencils and pens.

- Where can your art be seen?

My art can be seen on Facebook and Instagram, Twitter even though I am not very active on social media.

- Do you have an art and design background? If so can you elaborate a bit?

I don’t have an art and design background. I am self-taught.

I took a 3 days workshop in Art & Expression’s private art school (thank you and R.I.P Alain Evequoz) when I was 15. Denis, Koko and Flo gave me some advice when I began to paint walls. I continue to work hard to improve my painting technique and style alone by myself and with Koko, Flo and the others friends I paint with and the others artists I met and continue to meet in different countries.

- Where do you get your inspiration?

I got my inspiration from Asian manga from 80’s and 90’s I watched when I was a child and a teenager. I continue to watch a few of them. Comics, strip comics universe and surrealism have been a continual inspiration.

- Are there artists who influenced you when you were young and are there any who influenced you now?

Dali (Spain), HR Giger (Switzerland), Siudmak (Poland), Bilal aka Zoo Project (French from Serbia), Akira Toriyama and Masami Kurumada (Japan), Banksy and Mode 2 (England), Vaughn and Mark Bodé (USA) influenced me and still continue to influence me. Most recently by Goin and Roti (France), Shepard Fairey (USA), Cantwo (Germany)…

- How did you learn about San Francisco Meeting of Styles?

I learnt by coincidence. During May while I was searching for somewhere to paint in Europe during my summer holidays, I found several Meeting of Styles in France, Hungary, Germany and the USA. I sent an email with my artworks in France and Hungary but there were no more places. Hungary is still interested by my style and asked me to send an email next year. Then I saw there was a MOS in San Francisco. At the beginning I didn’t dare to send my request but decided I had nothing to loose so I did it and Lisa Brewer and Randolph Bowes from Mission Art 415 selected me to paint and represent France with other compatriots during this event. I want to thank Lisa Brewer, Randolph Bowes, Maddy Auble from Mission Art 415 for choosing me, and to believe and place trust in me. I am very grateful for it. I thank Jane Bregman very much for her help during the event. I would like to thank all the lovely people I met during my stay for their excellent welcome and kindness with me Jean-Michel Boujon, Cameron Christie, Mark and Molly Bodé, Mo Key, Tion Bukue One, Crayone, George Colon “Aim”, Norm Foureva and Andy, Veks and Albine, Fem one, Doctor Dragon, Raph Odrus, Dina Saadi, Hansoloist, Trubz-93, Adam Stanton and all the others artists and people I met.

- Can you tell us about the mural you painted in Oakland?

I painted a 20 feet mural about “Absolute Freedom” thème we should paint and respect if we had been painting in SF. The event moved to Oakland Chinatown so we were requested to paint something about Chinese culture. Fortunately my style is from an Asian culture so I didn’t change my plan and what I would like to paint at the beginning.

On my mural’s part you can see Sangoku who is one of the famous Asian characters and a child representing the next génération defending the Statue Of Liberty who is an “old lady” representing the last and actual génération and moreover a French gift that you can find both in the USA and France.

The message of this mural is that the next génération will have to continue to defend Liberty and our human’s rights. Moreover this painting symbolizes a deep friendship between France and USA. I had an excellent welcome by Doctor Dragon and Chinatown’s inhabitants. I want to thank them very much.

- Have you painted art in other cities or participated in art events?

I have already painted in France (in my county, in Biarritz, Lyon), in Switzerland (Geneva), in Belgium (Bruxelles), Germany (Berlin). I will be in Austria (Vienna) at the end of this month and will represent France in Africa (Sénégal) in Décember. I have also been contacted by Wagner Galerie Portugal (close to Lisbonne) to show my artworks and paint walls next year.

This was my first MOS and not the last one I hope because it was really a wonderful experience to meet and paint with others artists from around the world for peace, love and happiness.
I have already participated in an art event in Geneva and other small ones in France where I live.

- Is there a specific message you are trying to get across?

I paint for my own pleasure, for love, peace, hope, happiness, respect

I paint for my two daughters (Kélya & and Shana) too in order to make them dream and they remember their daddy when it will be the time for me to go to the other world. I paint to deliver a message of love, peace, hope and happiness. I paint huge warriors characters on wall to protect people I love around or countries who knew tragic events in order to help them forget it at my level. Moreover I paint for everybody who had and have problems in life (family, work, disease, integration…..) so they can briefly forget their daily troubles by seeing my paintings.

I paint for EVERYBODY (Children, teenagers, adults, old people) without any consideration of who they are (sex, origin, color, situation, religion, ideas…).
I hope thanks to my art people we talk with them, to understand them more, to respect them, to create link between them, to improve relationship all over the world.