Jana & JS

An interview by Cheffo31 – www.wallsandpictures.blogspot.co.uk

It’s been a month or so since the photographic stencilling couple Jana & JS were on these shores, with amazing pieces painted and pasted around Shoreditch, and the gigantic mural in Blackpool for ‘Sun, Sea & Spray’. Well a lot has been happening since, so here’s a few questions I fired at them to help understand where it begun and what it takes to create such work.

Hit more to read the interview.

How did you guys meet?
We met in Madrid in 2004. We were both spending a year in Spain and at some point we happened to live in the same apartment.

How did you start on the journey to where you are now, painting and pasting walls?
Js discovered stencils by seeing many in the streets of Madrid and immediately started to cut and paint very simple ones. Jana was already very much into photography and she was also drawing and painting.
When Js later came back to Paris he discovered more about street art and the stencil scene in Paris. He met Artiste-ouvrier who shared with him his unique technic and founded the WCA collective. Back in Austria, Jana also started to cut some stencils on her own. We realised that stencils were the perfect way to combine our interest for painting and photography.
We started to work together when Jana came to live in Paris in 2007. At that moment we started to develop our actual work, inspired by our photographs and our interests for urban architecture and portrait.

Is there a strong street art scene in Austria, compared to say France and Germany?
Compared to some other countries Austria doesn’ t have a strong street art scene but there are some talented artists.
However more and more international artists are coming to paint in Vienna, more people are promoting street art or organising events and people are more interested in street art then before.

How would you describe your style? And what do you use to create your work?
Our work is a sort of translation of our photographies with all the freedom that the painting mediums offer.
Our artwork is based on our photographic work. Our main tools are stencils which we hand cut.
We use spraypaint but also acrylics. The artworks we are producing in our studio are a mix of paintings and assemblages of all sorts of materials we usually find in the streets like wood, metal or even windows.

Do the characters have identities?
Yes all characters have an identity. They are friends and people we met during our journeys or in our everyday life.
They are all people with whom we had a relationship (even if it was for a short moment).

There’s a strong use of cameras in your work is that to mimick the viewer?
This comes from the fact that Photography and the act of photographing itself has a great impact on our work.
We always have been taking a lot of photos and at the beginning painting people with cameras was kind of an allusion to that.
We also liked a lot the mises-en-abîmes and reflection games between our paintings and the observers.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
The city is a huge inspiration for us. We have been working on urban landscapes and architecture details since the beginning of our collaboration (and even before).
We’re also inspired by the people we meet, and the stories they tell us… so in general we get our inspirations from our everyday life.

Is any of your work commissioned or is it mostly illegal street art?
For some of our works we got permission. Some projects would have been impossible to paint illegally.
But we still paint without permission because we like the possibility of working spontaneously, and put our work in places where it makes sense.

Paints and pens or cans and nozzles?
Paints, pens, cans and nozzles!

How do you choose where you paint?
We think it is very important that our work fits to the environment and makes some sense. We are always trying to make links between what we paint and where we paint it, often by introducing some kind of reflexion game or “mise en abime” but also by representing some kind of feeling that the place inspired in us. That is why we like to create images especially for precise places.
The wall itself is important – we prefer walls which carry history but we’re especially attentive to the environment; the architecture and the people who are living there. We also like abandoned places very much.

Where has been the best place to paint?
Painting in China was pretty exciting! It was kind of an adventure.
We like to paint in the eastern Europe countries a lot, because we always have the feeling that our work really fits with the environment.

If you didn’t paint what would you be doing?
Creating websites and counting numbers.

You travel a lot all around the world, what is the public and authorities perception of your work? Have you ever been in trouble?
No, we have never been in real trouble.
We love to travel, discover new places and paint in different cities.
We usually have good reactions when we are working in the streets. People can see the dialogue we want to create between our painting and the environment.
It is always nice to receive good feedback, but critical ones are interesting too, because they help us to question what we are doing …

What can we expect to see in 2012 from you guys? Are you planning any shows?
We will be part of some collective shows and we will have a solo show in France at the end of the year.

Check out more work from JS and Jana HERE.