Posts | The Alchemist Bar, Nairobi | Faces of the Alchemist [ FOA ]


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Meet Shafoux, a 40 year old graffiti and tattoo artist from Paris, France. He is behind the newest addition to the Alchemist family, Alchemist ink!

” 10 years ago I started out in Paris, and was fortunate to go on to work with brands there, in UK and now Nairobi. But I would always draw, and even when I was in school I would get into trouble with teachers because I loved it so much! Next point was going out to the street to do graffiti, then someone back home gave me a tattoo machine and everyone around me, all my friends kept saying that I should take up the craft. Wasn’t too keen at first but when I eventually did my first one, I knew it was the direction I wanted to take.

Of course, doing graffiti on the street came with challenges with the authorities back home, but it helped me get on the radar of some galleries, so I have put my art on canvas. I would like to draw in Nairobi because I see there is alot of opportunity; there is not as much yet. I have also interacted with other cool graffiti artists like Bankslave in Nairobi, so look out!

My style of graffiti is called operand, and I have realised the natural progression for many artists, including myself is street graffiti first, then tattoos. It’s hard though, to incorporate graffiti styles onto human canvas, as most people prefer relatively subtle ones. Like I now do footwork, which is really popular here, like the Mandala I am doing now as you take this photo.

Music wise, it’s like I have a new favorite artistes every other day, but I remember for ten years I worked for French hip hop group Suprême NTM so you could say I have hip hop in my blood! Grew up in a pretty rough neighbourhood called 93 Saint-Denis and people in my crew were pretty much massive hip hop fans, so I think that’s where the interest came from. I can also say art brought me out of that part.

Drawing, and my art in general, make me happy. Being here as a tattoo artist in Nairobi is also quite humbling, there is much to learn and explore, and people to meet. People out there think you can’t do tattoos in Africa, how wrong they are!

Alchemist is a melting pot of so many different people and cultures, which is good for me, because in a time when we have so much hate and discrimination across the world, it is nice to see a place where everyone is welcome and can be at home. Unfortunately in France there can be alot of racism and classism, so to see a place where people across the divide can come and share experiences, it is truly amazing.

If I had 5 million dollars today, I would give one million to my family, one to myself, and the rest goes to an initiative to help the poor and disadvantaged in the community. I didn’t have it easy you know, I grew up without my dad, and I think I know what struggles a young person in such a situation goes through and how I can help them.” #FacesofAlchemist