France is considered one of the premier destinations in the world to see some of the greatest works of classic art and architecture, and Paris is epicenter of all of that. Thankfully, the talented young French artist Shaz isn’t from Paris, he’s from Bordeaux; and he’s not interested in making Renaissance paintings.
Shaz has been fast making a name for himself, in both Bordeaux and around the world thanks to his growing legion of Instagram followers, with his unique fusion of hand-drawn portraiture and digital rendering. His work is exciting and fresh, and some of his muses including Swizz Beatz, Rick Ross, and French Montana, have also taken notice of his talent and perspective. We had to find out more, so we got in touch with Shaz and chopped it up with him about art in Bordeaux, getting the word out, and creating to share and interact. Read on! and make sure to follow Shaz on Instagram
for all his latest.
FIRST OFF, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, WHERE YOU LIVE, AND WHAT YOU DO:
I’m Shaz, 24, and I’m living in Bordeaux, in the South of France. I’m an amateur artist specializing in portraits. I’m trying to make a living with my art but it’s not easy; I’ve been working seriously for almost a year selling my art and doing exhibits, and now I can see that. To be rich doesn’t interest me though. My goal is to travel around the world to share my art.
(Shaz’s Self Portrait)
BORDEAUX IS KNOWN AS A CITY RICH IN WINE, ART, AND CULTURE; HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY YOUR CITY?
You will be disappointed but I don’t drink wine…I know it’s a sacrilege when you consider that I’m living in Bordeaux. About the rest, yes, Bordeaux is a city rich in art and culture, we have beautiful monuments, museums and people are really nice here.
But it’s true that I’d like to see and find more inspiration in other places.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE SPOTS YOU LIKE TO GO TO CHILL OR GET INSPIRED?
I don’t really have favorite places here, I love simple things and I’m happy when I can spend time with my friends. I practice lot of sports so when I have free time I go out with my friends, or to the cinema.
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR STYLE? ANY ARTISTS INSPIRE YOU TO GET INTO THAT GEOMETRIC STYLE?
I developed my style over the years and I worked a lot to find my own style. If you want to be unique you need to be original and do new things. I started to work with shades of the face and over time I learned and started to make my artwork harder and more geometric.
Many artists inspired me like C215, Vhils, Shepard Fairey and others, they got particular style that when you see a piece you know whose it is and I want people to think the same with my art. So I created geometric / mosaic faces. Now it’s my personal touch and I hope people will recognize me.
What inspires you to start a new piece? Do you see a picture or hear lyrics that inspire you to recreate those subjects?
Everything inspires me! Art, music, tv.. There is inspiration everywhere!
I can draw someone who is on the news. But it can simply be someone I love like a singer.
Some faces or expressions make me want to draw them with my style.
WHAT’S THE PROCESS LIKE WHEN YOU CREATE A NEW PIECE?
I break my work in two parts. First I’m working with a white sheet with my black pens. Then, I add my personal touch to the drawings that makes my work special. To finish, I scan my drawings and then I use Illustrator to finish it with colors. That’s why the result is digital. People have advised me to draw with a tablet but I prefer to draw with a paper and a pen.
(The first and final stages of De La Soul)
ON TOP OF YOUR DRAWING, YOU’VE ALSO DONE SOME DOPE GRAFFITI; WOULD YOU RATHER SEE YOUR ART IN A GALLERY OR ON THE STREETS?
Yes I do stencils by cutting my drawing and then paint it on a canvas or a wall, and I really like it. The process is different compared to what I’m used to doing but I’m having a lot of fun every time! Painting on walls is illegal so it’s a bit “dangerous” but it gives me adrenaline. But, unfortunately my paint can be removed the next day.
Of course I’d like to paint on bigger walls so everyone could see my work, but it’s more complicated and you need to be an influential person in the street art field. Having my paintings exhibited in a gallery is already something great that I’m proud of. I never thought it could one day happen. It allows me to meet people and to share with them, and that’s what I was missing.
(Shaz’s Martin Luther King stencil)
YOU’VE DONE PORTRAITS OF RAPPERS LIKE 2PAC, BIG SEAN, THE GAME, AND KENDRICK LAMAR; DO YOU HAVE AN ALL-TIME FAVORITE?
To make a choice between which is my favorite is hard. Of course I love 2Pac and Biggie like everyone I guess, but I truly also love Common, Method Man and MF Doom. I like old school music and less the new rapper generation even if I’m listening to Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q or even Earl. I just think we will never have icons like Pac, Notorious or Wu Tang were…
(Shaz’s take on The Game and French Montana)
SOME OF YOUR ‘SUBJECTS’ HAVE SHOUTED OUT YOUR WORK, WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST PERSONAL HIGHLIGHT SO FAR?
Swizz Beatz without hesitation! An evening I received a lot of notifications on my instagram account then I realized it was because Swizz had posted one of my drawings of him on his own account! I was very proud because I really appreciate him, he is an art lover so I was very honoured and he really gave me a major boost that I will never forget. After that, many people subscribed to my account and I receive many emails. The Game also commented on one of my drawings, then French Montana posted one on his Instagram account and Rick Ross on his Twitter account with “talent is priceless” beside it. That’s so crazy and it motivates me to continue in this direction!
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS AN ARTIST?
The biggest challenge I’ve ever faced as an artist was to create something that pleases me first. It’s useless to do something if we take no pleasure. Secondly, the purpose is to make my work pleasing to as many people as possible. Sharing is the most important because you can hear the opinions about your work. But of course, the ultimate goal is to be known all over the world and to be able to live thanks to your passion. I’d like to collaborate with people, artists or not, on different projects. That will make me proud of myself. My dream right now is to travel and exhibit my work in the US.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT SO FAR, OR ONE YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF?
I’m proud when someone orders a specific piece from me. The feeling when you realize that your work is hanging on a wall in someone’s house is just magic! Two or three years ago, I would’ve never imagined it. It’s a dream that came true.
LASTLY, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE FROM YOU THIS YEAR?
First, lots of creation. I’ll give my all to do the most illustrations I can this year and sell some prints. I have an artshow in March at the gallery “Le Paris Urbain” and I hope it will not be the only one. I also created a brand which should be available in a few months. I hope 2014 will be a great artistic year for me!
Thanks to Shaz for taking part in this feature! Check out some more of his work below and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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