28 Jan
A couple words with the girl behind the gargantuan "700 wall"

A few weeks ago we covered an incredible accomplishment by well respected German graffiti artist Mad C. Her 700 Wall is not only her biggest graffiti project yet, but it’s also one of the largest pieces found in the world. It took her a year to complete, from planning to execution, entirely on her own. But that is only one of Mad C’s creations; her talent is widely applied — beyond her graffiti work, she’s also a published author and accomplished portrait artist and animator. On the graf tip, her use of color and detailed shading bring her spray paintings to life, making one feel as if they’re immersed in the scenery. Mad C has traversed Europe leaving her signature on empty walls that have since remained untouched, and has left her legacy behind in cities that have no concept of what graffiti and the world behind the art form is.

Where did your alias Mad C come from?
The C is the first letter of my First name. I was given the “Mad” by friends I was painting with many years ago.

What first drew you to graffiti?
Originally I’m from a small village and hadn’t seen much graffiti in real life. I got interested in graffiti through a German book called Graffiti Art Germany. I read it in one night, bought my first 5 cans and painted since.

Aren’t you an author as well?
My first book was called Sticker City: Paper Graffiti Art, published by Thames&Hudson. My second book will be published in early 2011 by Thames&Hudson and 5 other publishers in various languages. The title of the British edition is Street Fonts – Graffiti Alphabets From Around The World.

What was your very first piece?
I did my very first piece on the back of a garage in the village I mentioned before. I used the name “Clide” then. I have no idea why, I start laughing thinking back.

What inspired you to do the gargantuan 700 wall project?
I had this idea for some years already. Actually, the original idea was to do one massive wall all by myself on each continent. Maybe I’ll find a way to do that still. I enjoy doing concept walls for a long time already and most of the time too many cooks spoil the broth. So I turned to doing concept walls all by myself. This one I wanted to do simply to see if I can do it and if I can do it in a set time frame in a certain quality and within a concept idea. However, I knew this project would cost a fortune and a lot of time. No time to earn money, but a lot of money to spend is difficult to handle for anyone. So in 2009, I presented the idea to Molotow. Luckily they were happy to support me with their cans in this project and I only had to spend a little money myself. I had not much time for any other projects for 11 months. It was a crazy year, but I enjoyed every minute I was painting.

To continue reading our interview with Mad C, plus a gallery of her Swarovski crystal-encrusted spray cans, hit the Jump

“At some point I stopped listening and just did it my way solely because there’s nothing I enjoy doing more. That was a long way to go, and it took a lot of courage and stubbornness…”

Within the 700 wall, what was your favorite part about it visually, and what was the most challenging aspect to completing it?
My favourite part is the harbour-section I think — painting all the container pieces. It took ages to finish it, but it put a smile on my face every day. The most challenging aspect was the weather. Sometimes I manage to organize time to paint and then it was raining cats and dogs. I had to force myself to get up at 7am every day to be able to finish it still — and I am a total night person usually.

What is you favorite country to tag?
All countries where people hardly know what the word graffiti means. Those people there are open minded, they enjoy the art as such and don’t connect the term with political campaigning. Also you find lots of fantastic and still untouched walls in these countries.

In what city does your favorite personal graffiti piece live (that you painted)? And in what city is your favorite graffiti piece that you yourself have not done?
I don’t have a favorite piece actually. As soon as I’m finished I know I can do better and let go of it. I always look forward to the next wall. If I can combine painting with traveling, that’s the best. There’s no better inspiration than leaving home and seeing the world.

Another of Mad C’s walls…

What is the most challenging thing you’ve yet had to face as an artist?
Do what you love the way you love despite other people trying to push you into a certain direction. The graff scene and the art scene too is so full of egos and all of them think their way is the only way and often you tend to lose track of why you are doing what. At some point I stopped listening and just did it my way and solely because there’s nothing I enjoy doing more. That was a long way to go and it took a lot of courage and stubbornness.

Have you ever been arrested plying your trade?
Unfortunately yes. I was stupid enough to get caught doing a train. I was in jail for 24h and had to pay quite a bit.

Do you practice any other forms of art aside from graffiti and writing?
Sure, I paint and draw with in all kinds of techniques. I paint portraits and love life drawing in general. I have a Masters Degree in Communications Design with focus on printing techniques, typography and calligraphy and a Diploma in 2D-Character Animation.

Do you find that being a woman leads to greater challenges as a graffiti artist and author?
I don’t think so really. So many people discuss it and ask me gender-related questions. Only then I really think about it. In truth being a woman in a men’s world gives you more freedom than any of these men will ever have. I’m an alien at the outset, so I am totally at liberty to do whatever unconventional stuff I want to do. That’s one reason why I use Swarovski crystals on canvases and spray cans. No man could do that without being asked if he’s gay or totally uncool. My playground is much bigger than the men’s is and I love playing around with ideas.

Mad C’s Swarovski crystal-encrusted spray cans…

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
To perfect my painting- and drawing-technique so far that I am able to put whatever idea perfectly on a wall or canvas, no matter if it’s 3D or sketchy lines, characters, letters, small or big sizes. That’s a lot of hard-earned creative freedom.

What kind of music do you listen to, if anything, while you work? Who’s on your playlists right now?
I mostly listen to audio books when I’m painting. I love reading but haven’t got enough time. So that’s a good alternative. When listening to music it’s mostly independent stuff – Florence+The Machine, Customs, Editors, The Cure, Shout Out Louds, Radiohead or DJ Shadow.

Do you have a New Years Resolution?
Not slowing down!

What do you have to look forward to this coming year? Any major projects we should look out for?
There’s a lot to look forward to. My book being published in spring 2011 for one thing, my solo show at Pure Evil gallery in London mid April 2011 for another, a couple of group shows, new projects with Molotow and time for those ideas I had to put on hold this year due to not having enough time.

And finally, if you were lost in a supermarket, where would we find you?
If there is one — in the book department; if there’s none, in the ice-cream department.

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