Supakitch and Koralie are two street artists from France who have joined together as a power duo in their craft. Both heavily influenced by Japanese art, their work showcases images of geishas, dragons and other elements of the culture. While much of their art is seen in a busy urban landscape, they’ve also brought their creations to the quiet walls of galleries.
More recently, they have broken into the vinyl toy industry, translating their own individual, as well as collaborative designs onto platform figures. They were approached by KidRobot to design the 8” Golden Ticket for the French Dunny Series, which was released earlier this year.
The duo, who have also been romantically linked for a few years made street art headlines just this spring when Supakitch popped the big question in the most unique and appropriate way possible: while doing a joint wheat paste project on a New York City wall. Koralie’s reply was pasted on the wall shortly afterwards in the form of a speech bubble with a simple, “oui.”
“Manga and music are my main influences; everything comes from there, but it’s not nostalgia. The subjects I’m working on now are real and even if I treat it with my critical sense and my actual vision of the world, I’m still a big child who never grew up. “
Format: Does it feel any different having your work showcased in a gallery than on the street?
Supakitch and Koralie: Street art and gallery are totally different. Even if the subject is the same, the terms are totally different. When you’re painting a canvas, meant for a gallery, you can take your time, but when you paint in the street or paste a poster, you need to be quick. When you paint on canvas, one is limited by the edge of it and one is limited by gallery walls. In the street, you can use the urban landscape to express yourself; you choose the place of your painting by the visualization and the aesthetics of that place. You’re also not reaching the same people…
Format: In light of recent events that caused a rift between gallery and street art, do you think that there is space for street art in the galleries?
Supakitch and Koralie: It’s silly to say ‘street art in galleries.’ There is no ‘street’ in galleries. You can say that there are street artists who get exposed in galleries but street art is as it sounds: in the street. Street artists or graffiti artists who don’t like galleries are often simply jealous that they can’t get a show at galleries.
Galleries have the capacity to let us live our passion, why would we refuse? It’s not a lack of integrity to be in a gallery; it doesn’t stop us from painting on the street. That’s complementary work, really interesting and which answer to each other. The advantage of being in a gallery is that you can show something else than what is on the street: sculpture, dolls, toys, installations, you can use noble materials. You can also, sometimes, earn money.
Format: There seems to be a lot of Asian influence in your respective works. Was this style always something you’ve been interested in? Who are your art heroes?
Supakitch and Koralie: We are both from the ‘Manga generation’. We grew up with French/Japanese shows like Goldorak, Candy, Albator and Lamu, so we are obviously influenced by that aesthetic. In a way, we are translating our fantasies where we can be those heroes: graphic robots, girls with long coloured hair and happy monsters. We are re-creating this universe and kawaï, sweet and colourful characters. Our biggest hero is definitely Hayao Miyazaki. We love this talented Japanese filmmaker for his sensitive, magical, sometimes grave, deep, smart and really personal universe.
Supakitch: When I watch a Manga by Miyazaki, I feel like he made it just for me. I feel the same about music and vinyl. I remember when I was young and I spent hours and hours playing my vinyls of my favourite cartoon songs. Manga and music are my main influences; everything comes from there, but it’s not nostalgia. The subjects I’m working on now are real and even if I treat it with my critical sense and my actual vision of the world, I’m still a big child who never grew up.
Koralie: I have great admiration for geishas and their aesthetic and knowledge. They are really good in the arts and smart too. Their beauty, their costumes, their hair and makeup and their significance fascinate me. What I love about Japanese culture is the opposition between the actual and the traditional, their captivity of innovation and profusion of visuals in graphics, architecture and style.
Format: How did you get into the vinyl toy movement?
Supakitch: I am a big collector, even obsessive sometimes. My toy collection began about 10 years ago. I collect vinyls, but also old toys: Goldoraks, Mazinger Z, old school robots, Telecran, Gundams and Dragon Ball. Approximately six years ago, a friend of mine offered me one of my Supas to be made as a plush. I loved it so much that I produced several Supas, which I used for an exhibition.
Supakitch and Koralie: We’ve been solicited for exhibits of custom toys. Then, KidRobot contacted us for the Dunny French Series. The funny part is that they contacted us separately, and then later discovered that we were together. This gave them the idea to propose to us the Golden Ticket prize, which we accepted straight away. Today, we are working on several other toy projects, including our own personal toys. Supa with AdFunture and Koralie with Artoyz, which will be released soon.
Format: You’ve worked with a lot of different mediums in the past. Are there any other art forms that you might be interested in trying?
Supakitch: A few years ago, I worked on the printed circuit technique. I was doing Télécrans. I had forgotten about this idea, but I always felt that I haven’t been pushed as far as I could with this technique. Today, I found a solution to make it again and I’m working with it as a new medium. It’s still too early to reveal the secret, but I can tell you that this will integrate animation and cartoons. I still work on the complementary of image and sound. Vinyl and paper are a great combination for that. I work on projects that combine both mediums. Also, the idea of designing a pair of sneakers excites me.
Koralie: Upper Playground made mini-videos with my characters and my universe for the launch of the collection that I made for them and I loved it. I would love to make video clips. I made my characters into big dolls made of tissue, wool and accessories and now I’m working on a project of my own figurine. It’s really exciting! My biggest wish is to make a book, which I am now working on.
I’m also a big fashion accessories fan and I’m about to design some for the next collection for our label, PLASTIQUE-graffiKtee.
Format: Is designing a 3-D image a lot more difficult than art that you’re used to?
Supakitch and Koralie: Yes, it’s more difficult because you really have to think in 3-D. In 2-D, you can do everything. You can easily cheat. It means that you can easily fake that a character is standing, but in reality, it wouldn’t work. You can cheat on perspectives and proportions. In 3-D, you need to be realistic. It’s another way of thinking, we’re not working with raw creativity, but rather more logic.
Format: Congratulations on your engagement! How did you feel at that moment that the ring was wheat-pasted on the wall? Was it a surprise?
Supakitch: Thanks! Koralie wasn’t really expecting it. I made her think that this will never happen, to make it an even bigger surprise. In fact, I printed a poster before leaving for New York City and once we were there, I waited to find the right place and the right time to wheat paste the poster. Once the two characters dressed for a wedding were pasted on the wall, I gave her the earphones for my iPod and I played her favourite song, Stand By Me by Ben E. King. I pasted a bubble with a ring and a question mark in it. I gave her a little box with the ring inside, which she opened in a second. Then, I gave her a bubble that said ‘Oui. (yes)’ to paste on the wall. She did it while she was laughing and crying at the same time. I couldn’t really see any other way to ask her; we met like that, in front of a wall that we were about to paint together.
Koralie: We have been together for seven years now. We have two children and I hadn’t really been attracted by marriage, but secretly I was hoping that one day, Supa would ask me to marry him. I knew he’d do it in an amazing way and I was curious to know how. I was teasing him about marriage for a while, but every time, he made me understand that he wasn’t up to it, so the day of the proposal, my joy and my love just exploded. I was super happy and I couldn’t dream of a better declaration. It was perfect and it corresponded to our story.
Format: Do you think that marriage would change your dynamic when it comes to collaborating artistically?
Supakitch and Koralie: All the changes in our life influence our work whether or not it’s a collaboration between us. We want to work together more and more, and we’ll continue to do that. We are currently working on a future exhibit for 2009 in Brazil.