Zabou is a French street artist based in London. She travels and paints realistic portraits, making the world a more colourful place, one wall at a time. Working mostly with spray paint, Zabou creates large-scale black and white portraits with colourful backgrounds. Her artworks are both striking and thought-provoking, and focus on the expression and emotions of her subjects. She likes to push visual and spatial boundaries, sometimes creating playful pieces.
Zabou explores various themes, finding inspiration in the history and the surroundings of where she paints. Her artistic world revolves around humans, icons, art, music, movies, nature, empowerment, love and many more.
Zabou takes part in festivals and art projects all around the world, from Europe and Asia to South America. To her, street art and graffiti enable communities to connect together and people to have a direct impact on their environment. Public art is a way to change cities while creating social dialogue, inspiration, revolt or wonder.
Beyond her travels, Zabou’s accomplishments also include speaking at events, featuring in specialist books and magazines, as well as being asked to exhibit her work multiple times at Saatchi Gallery in London.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m originally from France and I’ve been living in London, UK for almost 10 years. I moved there for my studies and I started painting on walls shortly after. I’m now a full-time artist, painting murals and travelling around. I do mostly portraits, large-scale, realistic and always in black and white with colourful backgrounds.
What's your earliest memory of art?
I remember drawing and painting in kindergarten and signing my ‘masterpieces’ with pride ha.
Who inspired you to be an artist?
No one especially, I think it was always in me.
We love the color palette you use in particular the grayscale for skin tones. What drove you to these colors?
At the beginning, I settled on the greyscale because it was more practical and cheaper than doing realistic skin tones, and then I fell in love with it.
We love the layers of your work. Both in style and substance. What subject matters do you like to touch on with your work?
I usually find inspiration in the history and the surroundings of where I paint, but not always. My work talks about humans, our emotions, our relationships – and also about the current context, art, music, movies, nature, empowerment and more.
How did you develop your style?
At the beginning, I started with black and white stencils. Little by little, I mixed them with free hand spray painting until it became my main technique. I kept adding new tone of greys, spent more time painting and my work naturally became more and more realistic. I constantly learn and grow.
Do you think inspiration comes at its own time, or you have to work to find it?
Both. Sometimes an idea pops in your mind straight away, sometimes it can mature in the back of your mind for a while. Other times you really have to research, find ideas, do different sketches until it's right.
We are giving you an open platform. What do you want to tell the people out there?
Well, in times of a global pandemic… HANG IN THERE! It’s going to get better. Do things that make you happy. Keep in touch with people you care about and be kind to others.
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