In addition to being the artist behind our new skate decks collection, Louis Letters is getting more and more attention on the Montreal art scene and his work is spreading fast. As we literally fell in love with the new “Artist Series” boards signed by Mr. Letters himself, we spoke with the French artist now established in Montreal to learn more about his career, his inspirations and the insane new boards he just designed!
FOLLOW LOUIS LETTERS ON INSTAGRAM →
What’s the process to get a graphic approved for an Empire board? For any graphic I do, I have a meeting with the marketing team, we try to come up with a few ideas, then I go from that and develop various concepts. I remain really free on the design as long as it fits with the Empire spirit.
And where does the inspiration behind the graphics of the new Empire boards come from? For the last collection, which is part of the Artist Series, I really went into my own style. I painted a skateboard for an exhibition last year with the same kind of crazy concept, with letters that fill the skateboard and that fit into each other. I wanted to go deeper into this concept, which I found effective. For the style I would say that there is necessarily a graffiti influence, but I try to bring something different, I like to compare my letters to hieroglyphics. I play between pure style and readability, the line is thin between the two but I try to keep the right balance.
How long have you been doing art and how did you start to get interested in it? I have always been immersed in art, my mother who is herself an artist introduced me to painting at a very young age with acrylic, pastel, charcoal, watercolor, etc. Later I started graffiti, I was influenced by my big brother SUN-C and my brother-in-law TARAM (RIP). My first graffiti was in 2000 or something. We even had a crew, The Paint Brothers. After going to school in Angoulême, I went to work as a graphic designer in Paris and lived there for 8 years. I moved to Montreal in 2016.
What are your favorite mediums / types of art? My thing is letters, of all kinds. It can be the complete alphabet, a word, or just a letter, my work revolves mainly around lettering and typography. I use a lot of different mediums, graffiti, collages, screen printing... I really like experimenting with new things, the rendering is always different depending on the medium, the type of tool. I think it's a good thing to renew yourself regularly, to evolve as an artist.
At the moment I do a lot of spray paint for murals. I work with rollers too, it works well for my style. I do a lot of canvas, sometimes skateboards which are good for painting. I also set up a screen printing studio with a friend in 2018 called Sorry Sérigraphie.
We make paper prints and a bit of clothing. It's on standby for the moment because we don't have too much time to take care of it but I'm sure we will restart the machine at some point. Otherwise I discovered the linocut during the confinement, I really liked it. The whole process of engraving a sheet of lino by hand, and then using it as a stamp, I think it's crazy, and it really gives a cachet to the print at the end.
You've been very present in the art scene and on social medias recently. What are your highlights for 2020? This year has been particularly busy in terms of artistic projects, especially since the beginning of the Summer. I participated in the Mural Festival, 25 years of Under Pressure, Cans de Ruelle... One of my highlights of the Summer is the wall in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that I did with my girlfriend Tshoko. (collective Les Sales Momes)
We really had good feedback and it was really fun. I painted the Big O too, loved to paint on this mythical Montreal monument. I also did a big collage project at the end of this year's Winter. An entire alphabet in large format that I pasted in the streets, I had targeted several neighborhoods in Montreal, each letter at a different spot.
That was a crazy one! Any upcoming projects we should be aware of? As for upcoming projects, several paintings on mini vans (Westfalia, GMC Vandura, mini bus). Many walls left to work on. I have to paint a surf too. In short, I'm booked until Winter!