Calais graffi ti artist
Nicolas, aka Vyrüs, where does your passion for graffiti come from?

As a child, I grew up in one of the blocks in the Beau-Marais district. I was a rather reserved child who liked to draw a lot.

I started with silly childish things like drawing on the walls of the stairwell in my building, but also in other neighbouring buildings.

I waited until I was fourteen to create my first graffiti on concrete titled "Noé", my first moniker, in bicycle spray paint, and it can still be seen in the Marcel Doret area.

When your drawing doesn’t get covered or cleaned away, it's a good sign.

I am self-taught and I just took two or three classes at the School of Fine Arts.

In 2000, I took the moniker of Vyrüs.

My idea was to find a memorable name in order to make my mark.

What I like is the smell of spray paint, the texture of the concrete and the fact that my work can be seen by many people.

 

Is there an artist who particularly inspired you?

When I started graffiti, there weren’t many books about this art form and the internet was still in its infancy. I had the good fortune to meet Jank, an artist from Calais, at the leisure centre; he is my mentor but above all a friend.

Many artists inspired me; first there were local artists like the CREW NSK with JESER CERN EMPTY, JANK , LUDO POZE and many more from Calais, as well as regional artists like the D32 - LT27, TPK -132, BAC, 123K... the throwups by JONONE or SEEN...

With the advent of the internet, there’s an explosion of colours around the world, revolutionising graffiti, which is becoming an art form for the best talents in drawing, with murals becoming larger and larger.

Street art is constantly evolving and growing, even finding its way into museums.

I went to the right school, the school of the street, and I have no regrets, from vandal tags to chrome lettering and then colourful, elaborate lettering (wildstyle) on authorised walls, all the way to the realistic figures of today. I’m still having fun with GRAFFITI and today I take inspiration from photography.

 

What work are you most proud of?

Recently, a piece of graffiti I did in Belgium was selected by an American Facebook page: it’s been seen more than 60 million times around the world, that’s amazing publicity! I created it at the Meeting of Styles in Antwerp, Belgium, one of the biggest events in the world of graffiti. It’s an ode to nature: the icy aspect of part of the face contrasts with the autumnal colours of the bust. The ivy of the hair does the rest. The result is magnificent.

What is incredible is that this drawing almost never existed! I was allocated a wall which was overgrown with ivy. I really wondered what I was going to do with it. Especially since next to it, I saw other graffiti artists with nicer sections of wall. But while my colleagues chose to get out the shears and cut everything away, I decided to integrate it into my graffiti and turn gardener.

 

How does the local area inspire you?

Simply because I love the city of Calais and I spent all my holidays on our beach in a chalet rented by my mother. Today I travel a lot but I’m always very happy to return to my city, for its landscapes and oddly enough, for our sky, which is very often cloudy ... I really like to paint that kind of sky.

 

What are your plans for the short and long term?

There are so many...

I’ve been trying for a number of years to create an art trail in Calais, to make the city a free, public open-air museum, and I'm certain it would bring even more tourists here ... I’ve created a piece of art for the OPHLM and offered others to the City of Calais.

I’ve signed several contracts for other big cities and this is only the beginning, because I’ve also been offered walls in Vitry, Marseille and London.

I’ve also worked a lot with young people at graffiti workshops but today I’m thinking a little more about myself because my schedule is very busy, I’m a professional firefighter and father of 3 children! I must also make time for my family.

 

Who can do graffiti and how?

Anyone can do graffiti in the street but be careful, there are a few rules to follow if you want to be accepted in those circles.

You can also sign up for JANK’s graffiti workshop at the Gérard Philipe centre in Calais.

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