FUZI in America
You know, nowadays creatives are sort of competing with the web. We now have influencers—kids with a million followers. What are your thoughts on the explosion of the social media bubble?
I’m fighting against these guys, you know, it’s the same with tattoos. Before the explosion of social media, I was the only one making these kinds of designs with this specific attitude, but now thousands of guys started to do things exactly like me. At the beginning it was basically a rip-off, but now they’ve developed their own style. It is true that there’s so many kids on Instagram with ten thousand followers, fifty thousand followers, a million followers, and I’m like, “who are you?” It happens! But you know, as fast as they go up, they die super fast too. In a year another style or another person comes along.
So what do you do to overcome this?
Stay original. It's not so bad. It makes you stronger at the end.. and it makes you stay longer. I guess I have to deal with it. It does get frustrating because you're like, “What’s my next move? What’s the game? Should I give up all my integrity and play like that? I don’t think I can do that.
People recognize these tattoos you know? They tell me, “that’s a Fuzi.” There’s really few artists that can have such specific style that people recognize.
I’m proud about it. People tell me the same thing all the time, It’s very cool. It’s really something.
When and why did you move to LA?
5 months ago. I just got married 2 months ago. Now we’re in LA and I’m waiting for my Green card. It’s a fucking long process! I have my daughter in France and I haven’t seen her in five months, so it's been difficult. but that’s the plan. hopefully I’ll be with her by the end of the year. I moved here to try something new. And I know the U.S. is it. I’m 41, so it was now or never. [laughs]. L.A. is kinda crazy, everyone is very superficial, but at the same time there’s something. I guess it's the city of dreams. [laughs]. It's a movie. I always say New York is a movie, but L.A. is a different kind of movie. It's easier for me to live in LA: streets are wide and the weather is good. But on the other hand there’s so much pressure to have money. People like to show wealth and talk about your job and your clothes. I don’t care about these things, but I realized that if you live here you have to care about it. If you don’t have the right clothes or the right car, you’re nobody. There’s an immediate wall that people put up against you. You need to play this game a little, so it's interesting.
Do you play the game?
I play the game. You know, you need to play the game a little bit. You need to go to some parties and places you’ve never been and things you’ve never done before. You have to meet people, if you don’t meet people, there’s no purpose to be in LA. You might as well go to middle America. The purpose is to meet people because it’s all about connections. Having contacts and making things happen. The downside is that people like to talk. “Bla bla bla.” People lie about what they do and what they have and who they know. You must really play the game. I’ve been in meetings where people promise me things and they never call back.
Do you have a tattoo shop there (LA)?
Not yet. I have to think about what I want to do. My vision was to open a tattoo shop fused with an art gallery. Mix all my interests and passions. I don’t want my tattoo shop to be just a boring space for me, so I want it to be a tattoo shop where you can buy some cool clothes, art, and magazines. In L.A. you need a lot of money to do these things, so I'm looking into working with investors.You need to be in a good location and that’s very expensive. I’m still trying to figure it all out.
Any pop ups in LA?
No…I have my own clients. I have people that follow me, so i continue to do it like in the beginning. I’m just free. I do exactly what I want. At the very beginning when i started no one wanted my work, and now everyone contacts me like “Oh hey, come work in my shop,” and I’m like “fuck you!” I already have my clients. I don’t have an interest. Maybe if its something really special. But for now I will continue to work like I do.
What about fashion?
I have always been into fashion, but in my own way. At the very beginning when I was young, I used to steal a lot from the shops. it was my thing. it was really my job. I did it everyday and it was to live.
What brands did you go for when shoplifting?
Well it was more about the whole look. In the 90s, hip hop was big, and so it influenced fashion. The vision of hip hop was like a dream. It was the music of America. Some of the brands were Nautica.. Reebok, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste….so many brands [laughs]. I was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which is a big swap meet for vintage stuff. I saw all these brands and I felt like a kid again, I was so excited! Like shit, it was some kind of revival for me.
I’m imagining that you’re creating fashion also based on what you would like to steal? or is it a different approach?
It’s more a thing of all my influences.I also have all these differences between everything in my mind and what I must create. Sometimes in my mind it’s very clear, but after that you must execute it and sometimes the product is different from the actual picture in your head, so it’s a long process. All my art is connected to my tattoo work. In the past, it was more about experience, but after being in the tattoo industry for so long and realizing there are “rules” like bullshit super clean lines and a prototype for design, I really kicked the door and started doing my own thing. Now I’m trying to focus more on my style and to bring something more personal. I’m trying to evolve. At this moment I’m in a transition in my tattoo work. It’s now more about illustration but still super strong on concept.
Also the cartoons, is that also new?
I’ve always been interested in cartoons. I’ve always loved it and I also used to read comics. I met this guy who makes comics in the US, and so now we’re working on a cartoon. He makes cartoons for T.V. so its easy to work with him. I started to do it, and I really enjoyed it. It’s another way to draw and to create stories.
TV! It’s only one minute long, but it takes so long to do it. It’s almost finished. It’s another medium i really, really love.