Radio Rotondes, in collaboration with Radio ARA #9 Becoming & Being an artist

If you want to become an artist, hang in there because the road is long.”

Listen to the show

This podcast is also available on Radio ARA’s website.

In this episode we chat with Alain Welter and Olivier Sader, two graffiti artists. They tell us about their path and how they became artists. They also shatter a few myths by giving us a glimpse of what it means to be an artist and what challenges they face. 

We wanted to discuss this subject of becoming and being an artist with graffiti artists because a few years back, it would have been almost unthinkable to make graffiti a profession, as the discipline lacked recognition. That’s why we’ve chosen artists with very different paths and backgrounds: to show you that there isn’t just one way to become an artist. At the end of the discussion, they tell us that to become an artist, you have to try and to allow for mistakes but also, you need to believe in yourself and to fight for it. 

Later in the episode, we present Hariko, a creative space for children and young people to learn, among other things, how to make graffiti. And we close the show with a creative prompt around graffiti.

Our guests:
Alain Welter and Olivier Sader

Alain Welter

Alain Welter is a graffiti artist and illustrator. He started doing graffiti when he was in high school. Back then it was a hobby, not something he thought he would make a profession of. He then studied illustration and design at BTK in Berlin. 

After his studies, he returned to Luxembourg and quickly gained notoriety thanks to his final bachelor project Make Koler Kooler, for which he painted a total of 16 murals on private houses in his native village of Kahler. This project helped him turn his passion into a profession. 

In the summer of 2020, he painted murals on ArcelorMittal’s cooling towers in Differdange. The five cooling towers illustrate not only the history of southern Luxembourg, the Minett region, but also showcases the emblematic architectures and landscapes of the region.(photo 1 © Mike Zenari / photos 2 – 4 © Alain Welter)

2:07 — 1:05:07 to listen to the interview. The interview is in French.

Olivier Sader

Olivier Sader is a graffiti artist. He started doing graffiti in the 90s after admiring graffitis on a trip to Paris. He became one of the first artists to import graffiti to Luxembourg and is therefore one of his most emblematic figures, especially in the field of style writing, the art of writing one’s own name. 

He has always been active on the graffiti scene to contribute to its recognition and the dissemination of its history, be it by organising events, like Back to the Books at Rotondes, or by giving graffiti lessons. He has taught at Hariko in Esch-sur-Alzette with another artist, Stick. He also participated in the creation of the Hall of Fame in the old slaughterhouses in Hollerich, a place where you can legally make graffiti in Luxembourg-City. 

Olivier has made graffiti his raison dêtre because it is the discipline that allowed him to become an artist and to no longer work in a factory. It is also why he created the non-profit organisation I love graffiti: to continue promoting this art which is so dear to him.

2:07 — 1:05:07 to listen to the interview. The interview is in French.

The featured creative space

Hariko is a creative place dedicated to young people between the ages of 12 and 26. It is part of the Luxembourg Red Cross. Hariko has had a location in Esch-sur-Alzette for many years and recently opened one in Ettelbruck. The mission of this place is to make creativity and art accessible to all young people. With an annual membership card that costs 5 euros, young people can take as many classes as they want, but they can also visit the premises just to use the materials available to them. All classes are given by artists, some of whom even have their own workshops on site. Artists can use these workshops free of charge in return for teaching classes.

In Esch-sur-Alzette you currently have, among other things, guitar, sewing, singing, upcycling, drawing, jewelry and graffiti lessons. In Ettelbruck you currently have, among other things, piano, crafting, painting, photography, dance and graffiti lessons.

The graffiti class in Esch-sur-Alzette is taught by Sader and Stick every Wednesday from 3PM to 5PM. Stick is one of the most emblematic figures of graffiti and has helped built the current graffiti scene in Luxembourg. The graffiti class in Ettelbruck takes place every Friday from 2PM to 4PM.

1:05:24 — 1:16:00 to listen to the interview. This interview was given in French.

Hariko ‑Graffiti — Stick

Podcast suggestion

One of my favourite podcasts about creativity and nourishing your creative practice is Creative Pep Talk, available on Spotify and Apple Podcast. It is made and hosted by Andy J. Pizza, an illustrator and public speaker who has worked for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Google, Amazon, YouTube and many more. The podcast is mostly monologues where he shares insights into developing and maintaining a creative practice. He talks about how to find inspiration, how to find your creative voice, how to get out of a rut, how to create a community: all problems and questions that arise if you have any kind of a creative practice. It is mostly geared towards creatives who do it for a living or who are aspiring to become full-time creators. The podcast is in English. (illustration © Andy J. Pizza)

I suggest you listen to the soundtrack of the show as it is a great source of inspiration. It is supposed to sound like a hero’s journey. Why? Because Andy mentions this idea of a hero’s journey a lot in his show. Here is the trailer, make sure to listen to it. Andy suggests some episodes to start with, which are also some of my own favourites. 

1:16:05 — 1:18:40 to listen to the description of the podcast.

Creative prompt

Try your hand at graffiti

Stick tells us that it is important to understand graffiti, to discover what it means and what lies behind the works we see, in order to understand the rules that govern this world. Then he encourages us to start on paper by writing our name, to go back to the source of graffiti. You don’t need to know how to draw to start. You just need to write. Once you’re ready you have to hit a wall, whether at home or outside in a legal (or an illegal…) place.

To help you find inspiration I have put together a list of places in Luxembourg and in the Greater Region where you can admire graffiti.

  • The old slaughterhouses / Skatepark of Hollerich: Rue de l’Abattoir, 2342 Luxembourg
  • Skatepark Dommeldange: Rue Nicolas Hein, 1721 Luxembourg
  • Place Guillaume II: 23 Rue du Fossé, 1536 Luxembourg
  • Playground bei der Bréck: Rue de l’Église, 4732 Pétange
  • On the walls along the old Exzellenzhaus, or Exhaus in Trier: Zurmaiener Str. 114, 54295 Trier
  • Along the Saar in Saarbrücken: Ostspange, Brückenpfeiler Saarufer St. Arnual & Ostspange, Brückenpfeiler Saarufer St. Johann
  • Along the Ice Arena in Metz: Boulevard Saint-Symphorien, 57050 Longeville-lès-Metz
  • Around the MJC Bazin in Nancy: Rue Oberlin, 54000 Nancy
  • Street Park Marie et Mathias: 57070 Saint-Julien-lès-Metz, France

In most of these places you can also try your hand on one of the walls legally. But make sure to check out the rules before you do.

I’ve watched a few videos on this topic, I kind of fell into a rabbit hole on YouTube! Here are some videos that I have found to be useful. One is on YouTube. The other is a course on Skillshare. If you’ve made your own tag, I’d love to see it! You can send it to me by email at radio@​rotondes.​lu

1:18:43 – 1:22:54 to listen to the creative prompt. The creative prompt is given in French.

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