Exclusive Interview | Eltono


Words by Adrian Harris 聽| 聽Photos by Eltono

No matter what your feelings are about street art 鈥 it鈥檚 everywhere. From the streets of London, to Tokyo, Berlin and San Paolo, this form of free artistic expression is truly a worldwide phenomenon. Graffiti is a term coined with negative connotation, and has been explored at lengths over the past century.

The line between what could be deemed foul, versus a creative form of expression, is obviously a debate with no end.聽Recently the push towards public art, planned community murals and such has been growing in popularity. Old buildings refurbished with gorgeous art, full scale installations which beautify and bring new life.


Eltono is an artist who demands the viewer the re-evaluate their views on Graffiti, and truly ask themselves — “what really makes art 鈥 art?”

I recently sat down with the artist just before a month of travel, to ask him about his life, his work, and his favourite places to leave his mark.


Can you tell me a bit about your childhood? How was your life growing up?

I was raised in the Northern suburbs of Paris and had a great childhood.聽 My family is wonderful and have always supported my choices as an artist.聽I spent my adolescent years on the train lines to and from Paris, and this is where I聽started noticing Graffiti from Yank C.A.S. I was amazed by his style and he was everywhere.

I think it was this local writer who drove me to start writing Graffiti. I did my first piece with spray-cans around 1989.


When did you become inspired to do art in the street? How do you think your craft has evolved over the years?

In 1997, after many years of writing graffiti, painting the same name over and over, I began to have a growing interest in expanding the boundaries of Graffiti. I started first with series printed stickers, posters and spray painted icons.

At that time I was at the Universit茅 d’Arts Plastiques Paris 8, sharing class with other Graffiti artists like Olivier Kosta Thefaine, Fran莽ois Morel and Simon Berheim. The way they were already experimenting with Graffiti was very inspiring to me.


In 1999 I arrived in Spain to study at the Fine Art University of Spain, and it was here that I started to paint geometric shapes in the street with brushes and acrylic paint. Since then I had a constant evolution, I experimented with a lot of different forms of expression using the city as an open art space.

In 2001, I started to show my work in galleries, but I never stopped working in the street and it has always been a mission for me to create an exchange between outdoor and indoor spaces. Graffiti cannot be framed.

Are you ever saddened to see your works removed, or painted over, or this is all part of the interest?

I very rigorously document the transformation of my paintings.聽 It is not only聽of聽interest, it is聽what聽I am interested in.聽 I don’t like to consider my pieces “sacred“. Many artworks in galleries and museums are under a glass or protected by a red ribbon, the concept of eternity found here doesn’t match with my ideas. I prefer to enjoy their degradation and transformation.

It makes the artwork alive. In some of my latest works, I encouraged this auto-degradation to register changes and then recuperate the pieces to show them indoors, I think it is interesting to put the artwork “in danger” so something out of the control of the artist — can happen to it. I like to be a spectator of my own productions.


How do you feel about Graffiti?

Graffiti is one of the strangest things I know, I consider it a beautiful act where anonymousness and fame melt together. It is an incredible way to learn about the urban environment.聽I learned much more painting Graffiti in the street than at art school. Graffiti is useless; this is why it is so beautiful.


Of all the places you have traveled and worked, which stand out in your mind as most memorable or interesting?

I recommend that everybody visit, or even better, live in Madrid for a while, it is an amazing city filled with wonderful people.

Then I am divided between Brazil and Mexico, I love the people and the colors there.聽I also think Buenos Aires is an amazing city. Right now I am living in Beijing, it is quite an experience! Go, and travel light.

Our thanks to Eltono for his time and contribution to this piece.

Visit eltono.com for more.

One thought on “Exclusive Interview | Eltono

  1. No need 2 learn something.just depend upon ur thinking and on your emazinations.So go and give shapes to your imazinations and what u like to paint.

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