ReturnVandals & Vangelis Shopping at Sprayer Paris
The 20th arrondissement in Paris is a laid-back neighborhood in the former industrial heartlands of the city. Home to the famous graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf, you can also find an institution of the Parisian graffiti scene: Sprayer Paris.
The man who calls himself Monsieur Sprayer is the chef at this cozy corner store. Originally opening as t-shirt printing workshop in 2006, he was entrusted to produce designs for Paris-based artists like JonOne and L’Atlas. So, it was a logical step to begin to sell spray paint two years later.
Mr. Sprayer was no stranger to the hip-hop and graffiti scene. He actually began painting in 1986 as part of the second generation of writers. He painted intensely over many years, with ties to one of the most famous crews in Europe but has recently slowed down to focus on family life.
Apart from being a hub for writers, the shop is more than that for Mr. Sprayer. He grew up in the neighborhood, he gets on well with all the local businesses. The shop is a valued part of the community and serves all kinds of creatives. While we were visiting, a well-known street artist called Toctoc was buying material for a solo show, and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds also look to Sprayer for his personal advice. Mechanics, painters and associations too.
Of course, Sprayer is best known for its commitment to the graffiti scene and it’s no surprise to hear that some of the world’s most celebrated writers have visited his shop. Mr. Sprayer drops the names of Sonic, Utah and Ether, but it seems that he would rather maintain his clients’ anonymity. “Everybody comes,” he explains. “We talk, but I don’t ask their names.”
The most surprising customer of Mr. Sprayer’s boutique was someone far removed from the world of graffiti. “When he called me, I didn’t know who it was,” Sprayer remembers. “So we talked for a while, and he said ‘Sprayer, you’re a cool guy. Have you ever heard of Vangelis?’ And at first I said, ‘No, sorry.’ Hahaha! Later I realized who it was.”
“So, Vangelis asked his driver to bring him here to the shop, because he’s an artist too, you know? He wanted to try aerosols, so I recommended water-based paint to work indoors, and he took some of those home.
“A few days later, he called me back. We talked for a while, and he asked me whether I had any free time to come and visit his house!” So, Mr. Sprayer spent an afternoon in the huge apartment of the Greek composer, explaining the finer points of spray-painting technique. “We hung out talking for four hours. He’s had such a crazy life.”
It’s absolutely teeming with rain outside, so we extend the visit by checking out the graffiti memorabilia tucked into every corner of the shop. Vintage MTNs sit aside a classic can of Marsh ink. There are small canvases by legendary New Yorkers and cooky sculptures by friends. “It’s not a collection, just a time of my life,” Mr. Sprayer says. “I got the Seen canvas at his first show in Paris in 2007. My friend Earl VAD gave me a sculpture as a present. Another French guy Veesr did an incredible drawing with a Bic pen. He’s a good guy.”
Obviously, moments like these have made an impact of Mr. Sprayer, but he gets just as much satisfaction from dealing with countless other humble artists. “I don’t care how much they paint, how much they bomb. I respect people with the right mentality. I respect human people with a good spirit.”
Visit Sprayer Paris on 66 Bd Davout, 75020 Paris, France. It opens 11am to 7pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Read an article about abstract graffiti on French trains here.
ShareMarch 02, 2022