David LÃ¼pschen, 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 SehvermÃ¶gen, to create a new form of street artâ€“one that is even more ephemeral than traditional writing, yet completely dependent on media that keep each piece in existence forever.
Probably because of Davidâ€™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 backgroundâ€“growing up, schooling, interests, anything youâ€™d like to share.
David LÃ¼pschen: Iâ€™m twenty-eight years old and I was born in Cologne, Germany. I still live in Cologne, and study design communications in DÃ¼sseldorf.
Iâ€™m working as a designer and graffiti artist for my own studio jiar.grafikfitiâ€“I work with print, illustration, motion-design, and graffiti-art.
In 2006, Marcel Panne (VJ SehvermÃ¶gen) and me launched the collective LICHTFAKTOR.
Format: How did you get into graffiti?
David LÃ¼pschen: Ever since I can remember, Iâ€™ve been interested in painting and drawingâ€“Iâ€™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 LÃ¼pschen: Magazines, the Internet, the people around me, my city, and traveling.
Format: Your graffitiâ€“aside from the light graffâ€™â€“is pretty non-traditional. When you began were you writing more classically, or have you always had such a unique style?
David LÃ¼pschen: 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 LÃ¼pschen: They are “only” bad, fat monsters, and they have a lot of fun.
Format: Light-writing is a fairly new entrant into the graffâ€™ world. How did you come to be a part of it?
David LÃ¼pschen: We started this project in winter of 2006 because Marcel Panne (aka VJ SehvermÃ¶gen) was asked to do a 360Â° video projection of eighteen video projectors on IDS for the Deutsche Ã„rzte 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 â€œlight-writing,â€ 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 crewâ€“who they are, what they do besides graffiti, etc.?
David LÃ¼pschen: The LICHTFAKTOR crew is Marcel Panne and me. Marcel isnâ€™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 LÃ¼pschen: 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 LÃ¼pschen: 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 weâ€™ve done exactly two jobs in Germany in the last two years.
Of course, the work experiences Iâ€™ve had in other countries are different–itâ€™s very important to be always prepared, so that you donâ€™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 LÃ¼pschen: 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 LÃ¼pschen: In the moment Iâ€™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).