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'I hope to see more indian, chinese street fonts in future'


STREET MESSAGE: Claudia Walde aka MadC at work

Claudia Walde, the graffiti artist, is visible to the world as the writer of the brilliantly illustrated ‘Street Fonts’ . Her other avatar, MadC, remains veiled as the graffiti artiste who paints public walls. ‘Street Fonts’ looks at how artists use letters to express themselves and their experiences in public spaces. Walde has just finished painting a big wall, 14m long and 6 meter high. She also curated an ambitious graffiti exhibition in London with her Team Rex. Every year she does a movie-themed wall and her Facebook fans vote her a film. This year it is ‘Jurassic Park’ . She is now preparing for her solo show in December at the 1am gallery in San Francisco. She tells TOI-Crest that street art is best when it is driven by local cultures.

What pulled you to the power of street fonts?

I started painting graffiti about 15 years ago. I first painted faces, animals and characters in general. With time I understood the letters better and better and learned that their shape lets me express so much more than I could with a face. As soon as people see a face, they start making connections with their own experiences. Letter shapes are more abstract and therefore can express a feeling or message without prejudice. Wherever I went, I read the walls. With the book I wanted to give people who are not able to read the different fonts in the street a key. With knowing that there are always 26 letters on each page, it is easy to compare the different styles and get a feeling for the fonts in the street.

How did you pick the artist featured in your book?

I have been travelling a lot all around the world during the last 5-8 years. Some outstanding artists were stuck in my head, so they were the first choice for the book. Also I wanted to show as much variety as possible without putting my own taste first. So I tried to find as many different styles as possible.

While we see graffiti all around us we know little of the faces behind these. What does your project tell you about these artists - what are their concerns?

All of the artists have a different background and different reasons to pursue their art. Those with a classic graffiti background aim to get noticed thanks to their art. Others want to send a message. But all of them are looking for a beautiful and perfect lettershape based on their personal taste.

Have you any insights into street art - fonts or graffiti - in Asia, specifically India?

Some friends of mine have travelled there and so I was able to see what's happening in India at the moment. It looks like more and more people are getting interested in this art form and have started painting themselves. I see a lot of potential in the country and in Asia in general. The biggest problem is that many Asian countries write in different signs than the Latin alphabet. So their feeling for letter-shapes is different and often it doesn't work too well when they start using the Latin alphabet for their graffitis. Hence, I hope that in the future, we will see more Chinese, Japanese or Indian street fonts.

What does a street font from an artist tell us about him or her?

Over the years I realised that you can always see the character of a person in their letters - or at least a part of their character. So when I look at a writing in the city I can roughly tell what to expect if I ever meet the person. An extroverted personality uses wide shapes with a lot of swing for example. Of course that takes some years of experience of the artist and his personal style.

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