Interview: Ella & Pitr

Ella & Pitr met on an Autumn night in 2007, in a random street, as each of them was pasting posters on the walls. That same year, they united their talents and formed “Les Papiers Peintres”. Over time, they have made a great number of works in France (mainly in St Etienne), Chile, Portugal, Canada; their passion always leading them further.
Their mastering many techniques allow them to work on different media. Their large format collages are part of the urban landscape of cities they travel to. They simply represent the people they meet in the streets, adding a burlesque, often absurd touch, with a sense of humor.

Special thanks to Marlene Mendes for putting me in touch with the busy duo, who in turn answered the following questions I had for them.

Ella&PitrFirst off, I wanted to thank you for sending me a copy of your recent book “Baiser d’Encre” that you have just released. Could you tell us in brief about the book and the idea behind it?
This book is a selection of many different moments of our way of life since our meeting 8 years ago. It’s some kind of sketch book diary. No idea behind the book, only inside the book. 

I am fascinated by your large scale pieces that you do on rooftops and other open spaces. I am curious about the development process, and whether there is a message behind each piece?
We don’t really like playing hide-and-seek, so there is nothing behind our piece, everything is into the drawing. But everybody is able to find what he wants to find behind something. The characters are very often inspired by people we meet during our travels or by stories we hear. We use to work on the sketches with our great “last minute” pencil.

I assume that you use drones in order to captures aerial photographs of these giant pieces. I also hear about the new rules and regulations that are being created to fly them. My question to you is, what are the pros and cons working with such devices?
There is only pros with drone and only cons with new rules and regulation. But that’s life, we need to find always new solutions. Now drones are old fashion, birds are the future.
Lilith and Olaf at NUART in Stavanger, Norway
What is your opinion and position on the label “Street Art”?
Street art is bullshit. Today, so many people are super exited by this appellation but many of those same people were super angry against graffiti 10 years ago. It’s a fashion wave but for us it’s a kind of deception. Many people try to make many money with those 2 words but unfortunately exigence is not always there. “I love street art” is the worst sentence that we can hear. exactly like when you hear “I love art”, it’s a really superficial way of thinking, too easy. You need to be suspicious with this kind of thinking. You can’t love everything in art, it’s too big for one human.

Campania, ItalyWhile some claim the physical danger of working outdoors makes women reluctant to participate, do you think women are changing the status-quo of street art which is kind of still a boys’ club?
Boys are girls! And girls are boys! We are thinking about changing our sexes in few years, Mr Ella & Mrs Pitr, we’ll change street art boys’ club in transex club.
And about women and the status-quo of street art, we don’t know what to think because we are not used to separate genders!

Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
Never! sorry.

What have been your most challenging and rewarding piece of work thus far?
It was in 2009 in a small town called St Etienne, when we painted the most silent wall of the city.
Each time we passed the brush on the wall, a guy was always coming and aking us to be more quiet. It took about 5 night to finish the piece, we stole some bottles of magic gas in a hospital to make the guy sleep.
Red Fish
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That we are 49 & 51 years old, so it proves that you can feel young and strong when you start getting old.
We would love to share with you that one of our daughters is pregnant, we’ll be gran’pa and gran’ma in a few months !

What do you do when you are not creating art? What are your hobbies?
We are totally crazy about horse races, that’s how we met each others and felt in love. It was on the famous “Hippodrome of Longchamps”, we won the race by playing the same numbers ! We are still very addicted to these races, but we can’t go very often to the hippodrome because of our projects, so we play from the small ” PMU ” just near to our atelier, it’s easier.

Les Rois d'en bas de la rue Notre Dame. MontréalWhat’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
Sorry but we can speak about something before having done it. We can just say that our next projects are about performances in public spaces, animals races and bonzai education. We’ll keep you informed !

Where else can we find you? (blog, website, twitter, facebook, etc.)
And our super shop:

Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
If you have a headache, take an aspirin(g) and you’ll find your way to love or love will find you in its way to bed, and break-fast and furious is a movie we didn’t see but we might watch it before tomorrow.

Alright that is all for now. Good luck and hope to see you in Boston in the near future – Thank you!

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