See your leather jacket ? Your old bike chain ? Pick ‘em up right now and get the feeling. Freak city brings you back to his childhood’s deepest traumas with the mixture of Cartoons and 90’s punk rock that forged the soul of this 30 years old artist from Bordeaux. His focus runs on the recreation of the revolutionary atmosphere of a movement that appeared with blood, sweat and beers. No wonder why our jaw dropped when we discovered Freak City’s artwork for the first time. Feel that retro shit for which any illustration tells good old memories about a pretty hardcore scene plunged deep in the streets we love so much. Get ready to encounter various creatures you might only be able to meet on a severe shroom trip or just by looking at Freak City’s frescos. Admiring his work is like getting smashed by a two-meters high Mohawk punk on the rhythms of a heavy guitar riff during a bloody gig in the darkest caves of London. It’s good right ?
Jacker / What’s up Mathieu ? Can you tell us about your background ?
Mathieu / I started at a young age when I signed for the official Ninja-Turtles fan-club. Sketching mutants and all kind of creepy monsters got me introduced to the art of drawing, then Rock’N’Roll music kicked off and rocked my world upside down. Iron Maiden wouldn’t give their cover illustration to a 9 years old kid so I just decided to draw for other rock bands I listened to : Queen, AC/DC... Years later, passed the period of scooters and puberty, groups of friends began to ask me for illustrations for their own albums which I obviously accepted. These bands were not as famous as my idols, however, they were seeking ideas that carried back inspiring memories from the time I was a child, containing lot of bricks, chains and weird-ass mutants. At that point, I closed the loop and I kept running the same direction.
J / Your world can be described as street and rock’n’roll, from what and where do you get inspired ? Are there any artists who truly had an impact on your work ?
M/ My inspiration essentially comes from my childhood and the Punk-Rock culture when I was slowly becoming a grown-up. As I have always been fond of Flashy skateboard colors, CD’s cover and obviously Ninja Turtles were strong influence on my style and I gradually narrowed down to these themes. Of course, my inspiration landscape naturally continued widening. Now that names are needed, I surely think about Jim Phillips, Jano, Pushead, Jaime Hernandez, Charles Burns or Joost Swarte. people who got us used to the punk-ass feeling of snapped skateboard, broken skulls, rock music and wall bricks.
J / If you could be a comics character for one day, which one would you be ?
M/ Hopey from “Love & Rockets”, so I could hit live concerts of Black Flag in LA in 1982, chillin’ with the homies in the Barrios.
J / Which project has inspired you the most, and which one was the most amusing to work on ?
M/ Live frescos are always sick as it creates the opportunity of truly exchanging words and experiences with the public. That obviously brings the human aspect of my job, which allows myself to get the fuck out of the workshop. Shit really happens there, instantly provoking reactions, whether you love it or hate it. Hitting the workshop is cool as well, I love it, but it is an exhausting work for which the audience will only see the final results. If you think about it, in this kind of environment, the creation process is as important as what you get at the end, it helps understanding and approaching a piece of art. Facing this issue means getting out of my comfort zone, expressing myself and help better understand my work.
J / Give us a few words about the BDX-LAX expo.
M/ Back in 2014, the second edition took place in Bordeaux, based on a collaboration with L.A. The idea was to gather French artist from Bordeaux along with Californian dudes around one same expo, work our shit together in an old church restored into an art gallery. Pretty damn sick. As far as Music and Illustration were concerned, Yankees were pretty close to our mentality, rocking a similar culture through their arts. What clearly hits me is how cool and professional they are. We learned a lot. The cooperation flow increased as we were working together in workshops, exchanging techniques and influences, which was awesome. An event like that carries an enormous potential offering multiple opportunities on the human and artistic side, but also requires a lot of efforts in terms of organization and communication. It is a truly exciting challenge.
J / Your universe sometimes gets close to the art of tattooing, have you ever experienced that domain ?
M / Not yet, but that should go down soon. I often get asked for a sketch and/or steal some of my drawings for a tattoo. Therefore, better ink them by myself, right ?
J / I’m pretty sure you are a big Rock fan, which band would you love to make a poster for ?
M / For Punk-Rock legends I have been listening since my teenage years, such as Suicidal Tendencies, Cro-Mags or NOFX. Those bands which posters, album covers or t-shirts inspired me to draw.
J / I saw on your website you made a mural for the town of Bordeaux. Is Graffiti or street art part of what you would like to develop in a near future ?
M / That is something I recently started working on, which to my eyes belongs more to illustrating walls than real Graffiti. I have love for decorating walls as much as drawing board of flash tattoos, with a lot of funny details, while adapting myself to the context. I’m really into deepening, developing and experiencing that medium, as a lone wolf or with other dawgs. I am currently driving a project with my man Duch, twice more entertaining, right ? Working with kids has always been a great experience for instance, as much as doing solo stuff.
J / Tell us some about “SkinJackin Collective”. What is it exactly ?And who forms part of the crew ?
M / It is a Body painting collective from Bordeaux, amusing and stupid at the same time. Nowadays, it has spread to the world, represented by several crews in Montreal, Paris, Helsinki and Taiwan. Basically, the idea came from three homies who spent their nights out drawing shit on girl’s bodies, silly argument to crack a good laugh. The concept made its way out and since the crew became stronger and we performed in numerous festivals always in the relaxed spirit and free for everyone. Result : we had the chance to go to Hellfest for charity, clubs or pyjama parties, everything works out just for the banter ! Go on www.skinjackin.com to see more about it.
J / Finally, what are your upcoming projects ?
M / Full throttle in the same direction, strive to improve my drawing skills, and have fun all the way through. I would also like to take part in more expos and collabs with press medias, clothes and skateboard brands, screen printing and a whole lotta frescos with the bros ! For the moment, I just hop on what is available, and usually, it is going pretty fast ! So fast that I sometimes can’t breathe out, but fuck it, I love this shit. Call, write or send your damn pigeon, this dude is ready to collaborate. Take a look at his portfolio to stay updated.