It’s safe to say that Zabou is a very well-travelled artist.
From Israel to Columbia, Portugal to Cyprus; you’ll find her work all over the world spreading her message of love, fun and rebellion!
Zabou was born in France but currently lives and works in London. Her artwork, both in the street and the studio, are striking and thought-provoking.
After a busy year of festivals and travelling, we caught up with Zabou to find out more about herself and her artwork.
Where are you from and when did you start painting?
I’m from France, but I’ve lived in the UK since 2011. When I moved to London, I was really impressed by the street art and graffiti scene and I started painting the following year in 2012.
Why do you paint?
I’ve always been drawing and painting since I was very little, it has always been a part of my life, my self, and part of my daily activities. Creating is like breathing for me!
What made you choose the techniques and the style you paint?
At first I started with stencils because I had no clue how to use spray cans and free hand techniques seemed extremely difficult to master – it still is!
Over time I switched from strictly stencilling to free hand, I enjoy the freedom of movement and exploring its effects. I feel that my style will evolve a lot over time, who knows how or what I’ll be painting in 10 years!
I use mostly grey scale for my characters that I divide into ten shades, from darker to lighter. I combine the characters with colourful background or effects to make them pop.
You paint a lot of well-known characters like Dali, Robin Williams and Charlie Chaplin, what inspires you to paint a certain person?
Sometimes I paint anonymous faces, sometimes famous ones. Usually that person would inspire me in some ways and I would want to pay tribute to her/him. Robin Williams and Charlie Chaplin were painted on a comedy club for example, so they fit into their environment perfectly.
It’s safe to say that women are a big part of what you paint, can you tell us more about why this is?
That’s true, I usually paint more feminine characters than male ones. I found that the female body and its traits inspire me more, and I like the aura it gives to a mural.
Looking at the festivals and events you’ve attended around the world, it’s obvious that you travel a lot – which has been your favourite place to paint so far?
I love travelling to old and new places, it’s one of the best part of the job. I’m usually on the road half of the time, especially from April until October when a lot of festivals and events take place.
Honestly, it’s hard for me to say which place has been the best, people are friendly and welcoming everywhere!
Does travelling have an affect on your work? For example, do your surroundings and experiences in different cities influence what you’ll be painting?
The environment and surroundings have definitely an influence on what I’ll be painting. If I can, I try to create a mural that takes inspiration from its social, historical or political context – or a piece that will play directly with the structure of the wall/space.
If I can’t, then I let my mind wander and create an image from scratch.
What upcoming projects do you have planned?
As we are approaching the end of 2017, and winter is here, I’m focusing more on studio work like producing screen prints, T-shirts or commissions. I don’t know yet where I’ll paint in 2018, what projects I’ll be doing and who I will meet – but I cannot wait!
Big thanks to Zabou for taking time to speak to us!