« Everyone I know calls me Mat Zed and that’s fine by me. Like all 14-year-old kids, I doodled and started drawing before knowing how to surf. For the past 20 years, it’s been my passion, and although time-consuming, I spend a lot of time drawing.

When I was younger, I was fascinated by graffiti. I had some German friends that bombed a lot and in the early 2000s they came to stay with me for about 4/5 months. As I was a late starter, I got into graffiti in an intense way… »

Brittany-native, the discreet Mat Zed keeps up to date with the graffiti movement within France. Off the record, Mat will explain the pleasure he gets out of graffiti bombing a train. He was present on the beach in La Torche for the now famous surfboard custo session whilst his mate Herlé lavished tips and techniques to aspiring artists. Here’s a little more info about this friendly, and generous activist.

* What do you like in graffiti?

As I kid I visited my grandparents during the summer in St Denis. There was a lot of graffiti around and it just seemed subversive and underground. I found it…cool and intriguing and so aesthetic. It was like a forbidden pleasure….

* Did you tag a lot when you got started?

Even if at first I wasn’t interested in drawing, it certainly came to me later. I never really tagged, I just wanted to do as many wall paintings as possible. When you start out, you just want to try things and rush the paintings with no technique whatsoever. 

What I like is when there’s action and a rapid pace. These days I almost only do wall paintings.

As long as I can graffiti with my friends, the rest isn’t important. My mates and graffiti are the fun part, that’s all there is to it!

* What about surfing, how did that happen?

I’ve always lived by the sea, and as a kid, I’d windsurf. When I went to the beach, I watched people surf and thought it looked so much cooler! At 14 I got a moped and started body boarding. Important years when you become a bit freer spending time by the sea and do stupid stuff. Freedom really.

* That’s when you met Aurélien Jacob?

I first met him when he was just a kid. He was fresh from La Réunion and the first time I saw him surf I wondered who this little wanker was! He certainly stood out, what with his tanned body and long hair!

We spent most of our youth together. Each summer at La Torche, we’d eat pasta and spend the day surfing (smile). Actually it was with Aurélien that I met our German graffiti friends.

* To what extent did you collaborate with Aurélien, Ewen & Ronan? [The projects and films: Des Îles Usions and Lost in the Swell]

As we’re mates, they’d sometimes ask for a favor such as translating subtitles, a drawing or even a logo.

I did the title for the Barravel film. For Des Îles Usions, I did the octopus logo, the maps and the animations, and the logo for Lost in the Swell. They’ve done so much and worked so hard.

* You mentioned Jim Philips earlier, what do you like about drawing?

I’ve done some skating, and have always been fascinated by decks from the 90s. There was some incredible graphic artwork at the time.

I’m also a fan Futurama by Matt Groening, the guy that did The Simpsons. I like The Simpsons, but Futurama treats more topics such as news and worldly happenings. Plus it’s easier to identify to the characters, and the humor is a little different, it talks politics, environmental issues, and it’s funny… and a little dumb as well! (smile).

I recently watched Ugly Americans. As a kid, I loved Walt Disney and Tex Avery; I’d watch them over and over again. I think they’ve been important influences on me. I’ve just watched movies by Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat created by Robert Crumb and Heavy Traffic), the artwork is really cool, completely blew me away.

Other great animations include Gerald Scarfes’ The Wall, and the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. When something is visually amazing and well thought out, you just have to agree. Technically, I’ve seen some great stuff but unfortunately lacking any feeling.

* You liked the theme? Rock, Nature & Free Expression?

Yes, I did some background work. Having watched the videos over and over again, there’s a reference to Belinda Bedekovic playing the keytar. Another essential element is David Bowie and the lightning bolt over his eye, that works all the time and I’m Bowie fan!

I also used the same font as Cerrone’s Supernature. It really fits with the theme! This song is about mankind and how using chemical products is contaminating the soil and feeding underground creatures, and that ultimately destroy everything. There’s also a ref to Futurama and their highly addictive and corrosive green energetic drink called Slurm. When I saw the color of the package Posca sent, it immediately made me want to make some Slurm!

* How often to you draw on boards? Do you draw a lot?

I did some boards for Aurélien when they travelled to Indonesia. At one point I was doing a lot but they were only for me. I realized I couldn’t be bothered selling them…I already have a job! If people around me like them, that’s great, but drawing & painting for the sake of selling is just a waste of time. It actually inspires me to give them away…

* You seem to have something against street art…

I’m not that interested. There are a lot of artists that are hype for no real reason…. No, I won’t give any names!

Funny, because people visit museums to admire calligraphy, but when there’s a tag in the street, either they won’t see it or just find it ugly, even if to me it’s also a form of calligraphy. Personally, a tag by O’clock or Twister is just as powerful, if not more, than a calligraphy exhibition.