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Space Invader: “You own the city”

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Space Invader
Photo by Martha Cooper
Short Profile

Name: Invader
DOB: 1969
Place of Birth: France
Occupation: Street Artist

Invader, despite having thousands of your colorful Space Invader mosaics on the streets of cities around the world, you’ve chosen to remain anonymous. How many people know that you're behind all of that?

Most people don’t know my name and my face. Only a few people know my name and very few people know my face. My parents don’t even realize who I am. They think I’m working in construction, as a tiler…

Seriously? Not even your parents?

Generally, the only people who know who I am are or have been involved in a project I did.

Do you remember the first time you were able to impress a girl by telling her what you are secretly up to?

Haha, I guess I’ve done it fewer times than you think.

How many warrants do you think are out for your arrest? Most of your “invasions” are illegal…

To be honest, I guess it is much more easy for me and my tiles than for a graffiti writer and his spray cans. That said, when I’m abroad it is not always easy. In Newcastle I’ve been arrested, pictured, finger printed, and they took some of my DNA. When I arrived back in my hotel room they told me that the police came to search my room!

How high would you estimate your career damage bill would be?

I have no idea. But I don’t damage, I do work! It is what I answer to the policemen who ask me what I am doing, “I’m doing my work, just like you!” So many things have happened, I should have written a diary about it.

I am sure. You even managed to get an Invader on Jacques Chirac’s lapel back when he was still President of France. How did you pull that off?

I was just lucky: I was visiting the FIAC Art Fair in Paris, and in an alley I saw Jacques Chirac who was visiting the fair too. I had some of my tiny “1point” stickers and a camera in my pocket. I could not resist and went to him and put a sticker on his lapel. I only had time to take 2 pictures of him before a bodyguard strongly grabbed my shoulder and told me to leave! Luckily he didn’t ask for the film from my camera. Jacques Chirac did not notice anything and he kept the sticker on until one of his bodyguards took it off later!

Not only Jacques Chirac left his – apparently 85% of your “invasions” are not removed. The removal rate of graffiti is much higher.

Because they are difficult to be removed! I mean it is easier to buff a painting or a poster than remove my invaders. That said, more than 15% of my early pieces, ones that were small and placed rather low, have been removed.

How do you feel when a piece of your street art becomes protected by the owner of the building it is placed on?

So many of the pieces I have done have been broken by building owners, haters, or people who tried to steal them - which is stupid because they could get the same tiles in any tiles store and make exactly the same piece. So yes, it is nice to see someone who tries to preserve a piece on his building.

What is your position towards vandalism? The word seems to always come up in the context of street art.

I have no limits with my invasions. The choice of the spots is a long process where I study the urban landscape and add something new in it. 99% of my pieces are illegal but I don’t see them like vandal acts but rather like a gift to the city.


Because I add something to the wall or the street, I don’t take something off or destroy anything. Nevertheless, I agree that the line is not always obvious to find and that is not my role to say what is vandalism and what is not. Maybe the attitude to invade with no permission is the vandal part of it, but at the end my intention is to add something new, not to destroy the existing things.

What city do you find the most ugly, the one that could maybe use the most change in its streets?

Maybe Toulon, it is the only ugly city of the French Riviera.

Why did you choose the streets as your playground in the first place?

It is very exciting to work in the streets because you kind of own the city! You can chose any spot and hit it. And it is a nice reaction to the art situation that has become very elitist.

Do you want to be a part of the “art situation?”

If you mean “art history,” yes I always wanted that. I love art and art history and I always wanted to dialog with it. If you mean “art establishment,” no, this cannot be an aim in itself in my opinion.

Is the fact that your invaders aren’t for sale a reaction to the elitist art world?

No, the elitism for me is more about access: there are very few people going to see shows in art galleries and museums. In old times the art was in churches, and everybody was going to church.

What is your relationship to commercial work? Are you open to commercial collaborations?

I usually refuse commercial collaborations, but I am not against the idea itself. I have a personal ethic about it because I don’t want to sell bullshit to my fans. That said, advertising can be an nice artistic playground if it is well done with a good concept. Actually my philosophy about it is to favor quality over quantity.

Have you ever sold one of your tiles?

Not blank but I did a few printed tiles that I sold. I also gave few signed tiles to people who helped me during an invasion. That is easy for me to sign a tile because I always have some with me.

How long will you continue your invasions?

I hope forever. Because that is the game. I am addicted to it.