Imagine New York without the Yankees. Or Batman without Robin. Or the Internet without Format, even. Exactly, you canâ€™t. And for 26-year-old graffiti writer Claudia Walde trying to imagine a career painting without being able to travel is impossible. To her, they are one in the same. â€œTraveling is my main source of inspiration. There is nothing better. Just to get to know other people, cultures, landscapes, smells and food, is pure inspiration. It broadens your mind and makes space for new ideas because you get an insight into the thoughts and feelings of other people with very different backgrounds,â€ says Walde, better known as MAD C amongst her colleagues.
MAD C traveled extensively as a child. Although MAD C was born in Germany, she lived in Ethiopia until she was eight-years-old and after her parents returned to Germany in 1989, C didnâ€™t stop traveling. She remembers going on trips every year with her family. â€œFor some people it’s pure stress to go abroad. For me, every trip and every country is an adventure I am looking forward to. I never felt homesick, because I don’t know a home in a classical sense. Home is friends and family and they can be everywhere,â€ says MAD C. â€œIt is, somehow, in my blood.â€
C has been writing for ten years and couldnâ€™t imagine doing anything else; for her â€œit is pure freedom.â€ Still, itâ€™s staying ahead of the competition and perfecting her craft that can sometimes be difficult. â€œYou have to concentrate very hard to reach a higher level and to match your skills with your imagination. At some point, you know how to use the tools, but to have a certain shape, scenery, style or character in mind and trying to bring this thought to the wall the way you have it in mind is the biggest challenge,â€ explains MAD C. â€œI think it’s fighting your own brain.â€ Despite certain hurdles along the way, C still finds ways to be innovative. Wild style, simple style, bubble style, photorealistic characters, comic characters â€“ you name it, sheâ€™s done it. â€œI don’t try to have one particular style that people recognize immediately. I don’t care about that. On the contrary, I love to explore and to change my style every time. It’s very strange and hard to explain, but every country I travel to changes my style, slightly. I painted completely new letters when I went to Lebanon, for example. I felt very different there than I feel at home. It’s fascinating and addictive.â€
Ironically, traveling poses problems for MAD C. â€œTraveling for writing also means to paint under completely different conditions everywhere you go. Often you don’t have the comfort you are used to back home,â€ explains MAD C. Currently the international graffiti writer calls London home. She also recently released a book titled Sticker City: Paper Graffiti Art.
For a woman who has nearly seen the world at 26, her collection of souvenirs is not exactly what people may think. â€œNew ideas, new friendships â€“ it’s some kind of collection. Collecting places you’ve painted. I know it sounds strange, but it’s a great motivation. Overall, graffiti simply is the best way of getting an insight into the real life of the people and their country.â€
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