David Lüpschen, aka JIAR, is a badass. The twenty-eight year old, German-bred designer is not only a motion design, illustration, and print master, but also represents one half of the pioneering and hugely popular light-writing crew LICHTFAKTOR. A graffiti artist at heart, David blends his lettered background with his career, his creativity, and the skills of his partner-in-crime, VJ Sehvermögen, to create a new form of street art–one that is even more ephemeral than traditional writing, yet completely dependent on media that keep each piece in existence forever.

Probably because of David’s aforementioned badassness, the fact that he speaks only a little English did nothing to hold him back from chatting with us. Genuine, original, and most of all, talented, David is a young gun to be reckoned with, and he just keeps getting better.


Format: Tell us about your background–growing up, schooling, interests, anything you’d like to share.
David Lüpschen: I’m twenty-eight years old and I was born in Cologne, Germany. I still live in Cologne, and study design communications in Düsseldorf.

I’m working as a designer and graffiti artist for my own studio jiar.grafikfiti–I work with print, illustration, motion-design, and graffiti-art.

In 2006, Marcel Panne (VJ Sehvermögen) and me launched the collective LICHTFAKTOR.

Format: How did you get into graffiti?
David Lüpschen: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been interested in painting and drawing–I’ve always loved paint and letters. When I was fourteen years old, hip-hop music, especially of the German rap-artist TooStrong, inspired me. I started to sketch the names of my classmates, and then this guy in my neighborhood, who was part of a graffiti crew, told me everything I needed to know: where to get spraycans, graffiti-magazines, everything. And he introduced me to other graffiti-writers.


Format: What are you inspired by?
David Lüpschen: Magazines, the Internet, the people around me, my city, and traveling.

Format: Your graffiti–aside from the light graff’–is pretty non-traditional. When you began were you writing more classically, or have you always had such a unique style?
David Lüpschen: I started classically, writing my name in letters. Only letters–big letters! After a time, I also began to paint photo-realistically. Over time, I developed my characters and this kind of style.

Format: A lot of your characters make re-appearances. Do they have any significance, or are they just little monsters?
David Lüpschen: They are “only” bad, fat monsters, and they have a lot of fun.

Format: Light-writing is a fairly new entrant into the graff’ world. How did you come to be a part of it?
David Lüpschen: We started this project in winter of 2006 because Marcel Panne (aka VJ Sehvermögen) was asked to do a 360° video projection of eighteen video projectors on IDS for the Deutsche Ärzte Verlag (a German medicine publisher). He thought that it would be nice to visualize the theme “Energie in Bewegung” (energy in motion) by producing those animations. As a photographer, he was familiar with this technique (long-time exposure), but what we did is combine photography, painting/graffiti, and stop-motion film, and called it “light-writing,” realizing that with that approach, we could go new ways and realize ideas in a different way.

For us, light-writing represents an evolution: a chance to animate graffiti characters in urban landscapes.


Format: Can you tell me about your crew–who they are, what they do besides graffiti, etc.?
David Lüpschen: The LICHTFAKTOR crew is Marcel Panne and me. Marcel isn’t a graffiti writer; he is a VJ and a photographer and lives in Cologne.

Format: How do you go about creating a new light-writing piece? It seems pretty complex, technologically speaking.
David Lüpschen: For commercial jobs, we plan our shoots out exactly. Storyboard, locations scouting, timetable, good equipment, etc. are all very important for getting good results.

Format: I assume that you do most of your work in Germany. Do you ever write elsewhere, and if so, is the experience different?
David Lüpschen: The graffiti stuff on canvases I do all in Germany and Cologne. But it would be very boring to do graffiti only in Germany, so I travel a lot and do it where I am. Most of our light-writing jobs we do in other countries. I think we’ve done exactly two jobs in Germany in the last two years.

Of course, the work experiences I’ve had in other countries are different–it’s very important to be always prepared, so that you don’t have big problems.

I love it very much to work in warm countries.


Format: You and your crew were behind Starwars vs. Startrek, right? Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
David Lüpschen: Yes, it was done for Skymovies in London. The film was our first TV commercial, and we had it done after five nights in London. The sound was produced by Heiner Kruse (the green man/basswerk).

Format: What are you working on right now?
David Lüpschen: In the moment I’m working on my new website and my own show-reel. For LICHTFAKTOR, we have new light-writing jobs, and in time we have some exhibitions (for example, ars Elektonica in Austria).

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Carmel Hagen

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  1. Amazing to see something so different on the scene at the minute, and as much as i am all for graffiti art/street art, it’s good to see something that kids out there could get involved in that won’t get the into too much trouble! Awesome work, would love to see more stuff like this. x

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