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Meuh, graffiti artist and street art guide

Discover the journey and interview of Meuh, graffiti artist and street art guide, journalist and voice-over artist. He talks about his career, graffiti and the street art walks he offers along the Ourcq Canal.

Meuh, from tag to graff

Like most graffiti artists, Meuh started out in graffiti by tagging in Paris in the mid-2000s. Initiated by a friend when he was 16, he set up his own crew, RBK.

Meuh, graffiti artist

He spent several years studying journalism and history, then left France and moved to Beirut in 2013 as a freelance journalist. There, he met local graffiti artists who encouraged him to learn graffiti. He went on to expand his Paris crew with Lebanese urban artists. As graffiti is not expressly forbidden in Lebanon, graffiti artists can practice in broad daylight and in a less hurried manner than in vandal graffiti. Meuh can work on technique, composition and color.

Self-taught, he specializes in simple, bouncy lettering, and most often writes his pseudonym or the word "Hope". As political or religious messages are forbidden in Lebanon, he and the other graffiti artists avoid overly targeted accusations, instead writing more general, poetic or implied slogans.

After two years in Lebanon, Meuh created the "Beirut Graffiti Tour", through which he guides visitors around Beirut through the prism of street art and tells the story of graffiti in Lebanon.

After leaving the country to travel, notably to Colombia where he lived for 9 months, he returned to Beirut in 2018 and continued his activities as a guide, painter and cultural journalist. He eventually left Lebanon in 2020 following the revolution.

On his return to France, he joined forces with several Lebanese and French graffiti artists, including Disek, to form the A(c)rt for Beirut collective to support graffiti artists left behind in Lebanon who were in serious financial difficulty. Later, thanks to his friend and guide Thomasine Zoler, he transposed his graffiti tour concept to the Seine-Saint-Denis area, with street art strolls along the Ourcq canal between Paris and Bobigny, during which he offered spray graffiti initiations and demonstrations.

Interview with graffiti artist and guide Meuh

We caught up with Meuh for an interview about his relationship with street art and Seine-Saint-Denis, and the street art walks he proposes along the Canal de l'Ourcq.

What's your relationship with the Ourcq Canal?

The Canal de l'Ourcq is one of my favorite places to paint, stroll and give graffiti/street art tours. It's a historic spot for graffiti artists in the region, and many hip-hop and graffiti events have taken place on its banks, and the police don't arrest those who come to paint there, so you can see a huge number of paintings of all styles, constantly renewed.

Do you have any street art spots to recommend in the 93 and Paris?

Apart from the Canal de l'Ourcq, the Canal Saint Denis is obviously magnificent too, dotted with legal and vandal works that give a good idea of what graffiti can be. Then there's Montreuil, which is perhaps the biggest graffiti "nest" in the Paris region, and the Paris "petite ceinture", where you'll find a lot of nice stuff too. But above all, I advise people to wander around on their own, rather than handing them specific spots. That's how you really enjoy finding rare gems, be they tags, graffiti, stickers or anything else!

Who are your favorite artists in the area?

In the 93 area, there's a whole bunch: Disek and his sidekick Encs, who are pros at lettering and coloring, Nashe and her all kinds of female characters who brighten up my walks, certain members of the CIA crew like Oreus and Woody, Nake too, a great vandal from the region who's absolutely everywhere, Gtz the old-timer who paints on a weekly basis like a Stakhanovist... And vandals like M3K, Zdare and his simple yet effective lettering, Berthet and his ultra-detailed smurfs... I could go on and on!

Can you tell us about your street art walks? How do you prepare them, how do they run and what feedback do you get from participants?

My walks are generally graffiti-oriented. I "prepare" them by living my life as a graffiti artist of some thirty years, in the sense that I'm constantly learning new anecdotes, I meet new graffiti artists, which makes my discourse evolve, and I try never to get bored by deciding to linger on different artists depending on the visit!In general, I start with a quick summary of the history of graffiti, then I talk about the distinction between a few styles, then we walk for an hour and a half, for example along the Canal de l'Ourcq, and I draw the public's attention to this or that artist, or an amusing tag, or eye-catching lettering... And finally, when the budget allows, I ask people to agree on a word of no more than 5 letters, which I then execute on a free ("legal") wall, and everyone can help me fill in the letters with color. Of course, I take care of the final contours and details, and we take a photo in front of it to immortalize the moment!

Any advice for those who want to get started in urban art?

The most important advice: learn the few rules of respect for this discipline. On an authorized wall, you don't paint over someone else's work if you can't cover it all up. Even in this case, check that the work is not a tribute to someone who has passed away (you'll find obvious clues like "RIP"). And on the street, if you're just starting out, don't cover anyone up (except for tags), it's safer and, once again, more respectful.As for the rest, you need to practice at home on paper/tablet, and outside in discreet places, until you've acquired a bit of mastery, so you don't end up posted on the Instagram pages of memes dedicated to graffiti! Apart from that, I encourage anyone to try their hand at it, to try to find original styles and concepts, to learn about the history of this movement and to try to be a part of it!

Discover street art and graffiti artist in the Paris region

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