Denis Meyers: An interview with the Graffiti and Street Artist

By Etienne Verbist - Monday, September 19, 2016
Denis Meyers: An interview with the Graffiti and Street Artist

Contemporary street artists are not concerned with impressing members of the Academy or approved authorities but rather in revoking many social conventions about art. Contemporary street artists produce their works believing that art does not belong only in museums but also on the streets with the people. That is why many of them, such as Banksy, operate under pseudonyms, because vandalizing public property is a crime.

Denis Meyers. An interview with graffiti and street artist

Contemporary street artists are not concerned with impressing members of the Academy or approved authorities but rather in revoking many social conventions about art. Contemporary street artists produce their works believing that art does not belong only in museums but also on the streets with the people. That is why many of them, such as Banksy, operate under pseudonyms, because vandalizing public property is a crime.

Artdependence Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?

Denis Meyers: Denis Meyers, 36 years old, with a typographer background but also multidisciplinary artist in various fields such as design, scenography, graphics, video, painting, mural.

AD: What’s your goal? 

DM: Through my work I hope to meet people, focus on the human dimension, propose a message, create reactions, sensations, feelings, emotions. I want to share and interact with people.

AD: What is your dream project?

DM: The dream project would be to be able to keep doing what I love, meaning to create under various forms, until my last breath.

AD: Why to you do what you do?

DM: Because each and every one of us express himself through their jobs. I express myself by creating, through many mediums like the ones mentioned above. This requires creativity, self questioning, risk taking, personal investment.

AD: What role does the artist have in society?

DM: I believe that every artist has a different vision of what he’s supposed to bring into society. I, for certain, want to bring joy, color, reflection, a bit of History, a bit of everything that could feed people’s mind on a day to day basis.

AD: What themes do you pursue?

DM: Due to my training, THE WORD, THE SENTENCE, THE TEXT are very important to me. And, by extension, THE PEOPLE through their gestures, their faces ; meeting them, knowing them or not, the stories they tell me or the ones I can tell. It’s usually a matter of meeting, discovering people and sharing, interacting with them.

AD: What’s your favorite art work?

DM: Guernica by Picasso. Because it is a piece of art that has been criticized a lot at the time it was presented to the world. It has been forbidden in Spain. It has been showed for several years in diverse foreign countries before being brought back in Spain way later. Picasso was a genius and some sort of revolutionary at his own level, a pioneer. In Guernica he addressed themes such as the popular struggle, rejection of the authority, tyranny. Themes that are still relevant nowadays.

Those themes are some of those I would like to address in my own way, I would like to pass on messages over similar themes, in a more current context ; capitalism, abuse of authority, etc.

AD: What memorable responses have you had to your work?

DM: Within the context of Remember Souvenir, many people have send me letters and messages saying that my work had changed their lives, that it had opened their eyes about their professional situation, family situation.

Some people have contacted family members that they had not seen for a very long time, some others quit their jobs, decided to travel, some people cried exiting the exhibition, they have given me drawings or even gifts, I have been invited to eat in their homes… Human and spontaneous reactions that were all related to feelings and emotions.

AD: What do you dislike about the art world?

DM: The capitalist and speculative aspect, even if you must deal with it, is not the most interesting one. It is very sad that many artists can not live from their art and have to do something else beside to survive.

We can choose to set a foot in that aspect or not, to accept it or not. At the present time, I prefer to operate on that side on my own, or at least I try not to go to deep in the officialized, capitalized and speculative aspect of art works sale.

AD: What role does art funding have?

DM: It can help the artists to create. However, it is important to know where the funding comes. If it is from local, federal or other authorities it seems normal to me. If it comes from a private institution it can also be very interesting, it can allow you to some sort of freedom, not to be related to a political banner.

AD: What research do you do?

DM: I investigate on the meaning, the history of the building I occupy, I do researches on the people I work with or work on, graphic experimentations, test new techniques, new mediums, new ways to work. That implies also self questioning, that I investigate my inner self.

AD: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

DM: A drawing a day. And that is something very important that every artist should apply in his everyday work life. It is not so much the idea of doing one drawing a day that matters but mostly the fact that you must practice and train everyday, it is possible to get better until the last day. Rigor matter, and the motivation really.

AD: What would you have done differently?

DM: Not much, I would do everything the same way I believe. I assume the paths I chose until today.

AD: What is the role of the people, the crowd in your project?

DM: As a principle every creation exist only when it is seen and observed, only because it is ‘lived’.

Create for yoursel is good, many artists do that. The basis of a project is more private than public… however it is like answering to the question “does color exists when it’s dark?”. Yes, it does. Does a creation exists if it is not looked up? I do think so… someone made it, spend time developing it. But to me, it has sense only (or at least most of time) when it is shared, exchanged… only when you can discuss about it, when the visitors can talk about it among each other. And at the same time, it is all very new to me.

AD: How can they participate in your project?

DM: It is very interesting to imagine that people bring an artwork to life simply through their presence in it. When the visitors came to visit Remember Souvenir they sometimes do more than just looking at the walls, they have their own interpretations, perspectives. It is magical that kids have write my name and build towers on their own initiative (editor’s note : in the old Solvay building, at some point during the visit of RS, there was a room where the wooden floor was removed and it looked like small blocs of a building game. Many visitors have built, and sometimes demolished towers). And almost at the same level than this, my project has had a lot of success thanks to the coverage of the public on social medias.

 So in a way, on Remember Souvenir, people, the crowd has participated without me asking them to do so. And again, thanks to their participation, the pictures they shared on instagram, the word spread quite quickly about RS. People, whether they like or not the work, have not only a say but it is at the same time their role tot o diffuse the information ; they diffuse it among each other and also share their opinions, they make the word of mouth function.

AD: How are you connected with the people or the crowd?

DM:  I feel mostly related to the crowd on physical aspect because I was there for almost every visit (even if I was not giving the tour) and we are talking about 16000 visitors. Saying hi, showing them that we are open, respectful, that we thank them for making the effort to come, to visit and pay a fee, interacting with them, listening to them, understanding how they experienced the project, it was all very instructive to me.

AD: The crowd economy creates meaningful experiences and shared value, how do you see it for your work?

DM: To make people aware of an artistic approach that could not exist without their financial support and the capacity they have to believe in a project and to assist the artist.

Regarding my work, I see it as a helping hand. And when it does not work that way I will find an other. But I sincerely believe that including people and have them benefiting from the fruits of this project is also a way to share and exchange.

AD: CO-Creation and participation are emphasized in the crowd economy and communities take an active stake in crafting positive future.  How do you use the crowd?

DM: Through communication, diffusion of information and images in a way that people can appropriate the project, indirectly extend the network.

AD: How do you interact?

DM: By proposing hash tags to the crowd, giving the cars so that they can play the game of social medias. By making the visits more participative. By exploiting the medias in a smart way.

AD: How do you handle feedback?

DM: It is not always easy to receive criticisms when you spend a lot of time on a job but you need to keep your mind open and to choose what you take and what you don’t, what matter and what does not. It matters to be able to listen, pay attention and be smart enough to admit that the remarks may be right… it is part of my approach, to listen.

AD: How do you create the interaction?

DM: As I said before, by using the medias, staying open to new encounters declining from a network that I hope is constantly evolving.

AD: What are the results?

DM: A more expanded network, a wider panel of propositions, working in foreign countries, reaching new type of clients, potential partners…

AD: How do you measure results?

DM: It’s hard to measure precisely but a growing network is always a good sign, and new propositions, new collaborations, the number of new orders can also be an indicator. Crowd economy fosters faster, cheaper, better and resource efficient processes.

AD: How do you measure the effect?

DM: Well I don’t really measure … eventually in terms of number of visitors, ‘likes’, pictures shared, but in the end it is not the key point to me. The core issue is to do what I want to, do what I love. And if people come to see it and if they like it then it is a plus.

AD: What Social Media do you use?

DM: instagram, facebook

REMEMBER/SOUVENIR by Denis Meyers. All images are copyright and cortesy of the artist.  

 

Etienne Verbist

 

Curator for hybrid and disrupitve Art 

 

 

Etienne Verbist is an authority in the field of crowd sourcing, disruptive business modelling and disruptive art. After a well filled career with companies such as GE, Etienne was an early adopter of crowd sourcing. Etienne is manager Europe and Africa for Crowd Sourcing Week, a board advisor to a broad range of companies on innovation and new technology, curator of the Disruptive Art Museum – the smallest museum in the world – and columnist for ArtDependence Magazine.

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