With 10 years long experience in graphic design, inspired by the street art movement and alternative music scene, Stephane Koyama-Meyer, also known as Traz, creates interesting visual combinations of bright colors and drawings. He likes to play with letters and chose sentences, so-called motivation quotes, borrowed from philosophers, poems or even hip hop lyrics. With the aim to spread the positive mindset, Stephane wants to give the public the break from their everyday routine.
Inspired by the great master of mobiles, Alexander Calder, Stephane’s project Street Mobiles consists of hand-made mobiles created from reclaimed materials such as plastic and metal, painted with different color. With a kinetic interpretation of urban writings, mobiles were put on the streets to surprise, inspire or motivate the people.
Passing the message is also the theme of his project Glowing Memos. Interesting sentences are now emphasized with background lighting. But in the Side Project, Stephane was giving the primacy to the symbol.
His paintings are made of parts of his graphic design creations. Paying attention to detail, Stephane cut it out and reproduced it on a canvas. He is transforming the graphic design into abstract work of art. Led by a strong desire to constantly improve his visual style, Stephane explores alternative mediums, experimenting with his own creativity. Born in Mulhouse in France and a graduate of Visual and Graphic Arts from Strasbourg and Besancon, Stephane Koyama-Meyer now lives and works in Basel.
He has exhibited all over the world, won an international art contest organized by the rapper Snoop Dogg and his work has been published in various books, including Book of Creation and Generation T. He’s also co-founder of the Back To Type art collective.
Stephane Koyama-Meyer is using words and images to send his message. Involved in the underground nature of the hip hop and graffiti art, he never lost the interest in urban expression. Transferring the positive and universal message that anyone can use, Stephane is trying to bring a touch of life and poetry into the streets. His intentions are that, through his work, inspire action, provoke thought and motivate change. Mixing the best of graffiti art and graphic design experience, he brings the small detail into the center of his interest.
Putting a twist on street art, French visual artist Stéphane Koyama-Meyer makes colourful hanging mobiles combining a love of typography and inspiring quotes. We caught up with him about spreading positivity, his creative process and what he wants to achieve in 2016.
Can you tell us a little about your story so far?
I grew up in the trinational Rhine river valley where France, Germany and Switzerland meet. The main city is Basel where one can find lots of museums and take part in various art events. Growing up in this melting pot certainly influenced me.
While a kid, I started following the hip-hop culture and its evolution. This might be what led me to start making graffiti. Later on, I studied Graphic and visual art in France and after concluding my studies I was hired as a full time graphic designer responsible for a diverse range of projects. To keep my creative flow going, I opened my own atelier in 2013. There, I am able to develop my artistic experiments.
What inspired the idea behind your hanging street art?
The idea came to me while trying to figure out a creative solution to communicate my ideas to the public. While working on a canvas series for an exhibition, I remembered a class in which I studied about Alexander Calder’s work. His projects interested me deeply. Then, the idea hit me. Why not mix my graffiti background as well as my interest in typography with kinetic art?
My mobile work is able to take messages to the public in a unique and playful way. I add art to the streets in the hope to provoke or simply create thoughts.
Who or what inspires the quotes you choose to create?
The quotes are drawn from sources such as poetry, philosophy and rap lyrics.
Usually I choose the quote because they have a personal meaning. They serve as reminders for myself and I want share their motivation and wisdom to the public.
I believe one of the best ways to exchange thoughts occurs in the streets. And even if my mobiles are short-lived, they are able to momentarily connect with passersby and maybe, make a difference in a person’s day.
What do you love most about creating these hanging art works?
I enjoy each step of the creation process. Making mobiles combines all the things I like to do: Atelier work and street work, handcraft, typography, material research, visual composition etc.
I research, draw, play, test, cut, paint, assemble and find the perfect place to hang my artwork and spread its message.
What do you want people to take away from your art when they stumble across it?
First, I want them to pause, look at the piece. Then, I hope the artwork will communicate something to them and will trigger some kind of thought or action.
My goal is to give the public a break from their daily routine and show them a positive mindset. Nowadays, life has become sort of standardized and I want people to break from their mold and bring them back to life. My artwork is an invitation to act.
How would you describe your artistic style in three words?
Movement. Message. Streets.
Are there any particular themes you are drawn to again and again?
I want to help people think for themselves. But also add positivity to the streets.
What other mediums do you enjoy working with?
I like to experiment with new mediums. Sometimes, I will see something on the streets and this will give me an idea for a mobile. I like the spontaneity of the process. I have the idea, I do it, and fix the problems later.
Where do you want to take your work next?
I would like to develop my artwork into the next level and continue to spread my messages and positivity into the world. This year, I am looking to collaborate with institutions in order to create bigger installations for my street mobiles, possibly a kinetic sculpture in metal. I was also invited to participate in the Athens Street Art Festival this summer which is a new experience for me, and I am really excited about it!