As part of our capsule collection with the artist Tusséki,
we met our almost-neighbour for a little talk about his work, enjoy!
FRINGALE - Describe yourself in a few words: where are you from, how you get into the artistic world, how you entered cycling... We want to know more about the man behind Tusseki !
TUSSEKI - My name is François and Tusséki is a nickname or an artist name. It means " you-know-who" in French. I kind of stole it from a friend but he wasn't too mad. I have always been into nicknames, pseudonyms, alter egos so it makes sense that my name speaks about identity.
I never made an art school for parental reasons mostly, sometimes I regret but in general I'm an happy autodidact. I have always been drawing since I was 10 or 11. As I was in "normal" school, I was always THE drawing kid and I end up doing a lot of "portraits" and "caricatures" for schoolmates.
I was always starting comic book projects, I had a lot of fun creating characters, finding new names but I never had the patience or the dedication to go and realize it in full. Years later, I did a little bit of graffiti and street-art but always drawing characters.
Letters came later, I'd say around 10 years ago, someone must have asked me to draw a logotype and it instantly pleased me and I never went back.
So to sum it up, I'm a lettering and calligraphy designer for almost 10 years now.
Cycling is a complete different story. It started as a transport mode then it shifted to a real way of life. In 2009, I got a new job in Sint-Pieters Leeuw and public transport was complicated. I bought a 20 euros bike and started commuting everyday +/- 25km each day. Quickly it became my favourite moment of the day, I got hooked in all that "fixed gear trend" and made a lot of new friends who shared the same interest.
As my employer was facing bankrupcy, I came up with the idea of developing my own business of Bicycle Messenger. I was having so much fun on my bike, I thought it would be awesome to get paid to ride across the city. I found a name and drew a logo and Hush Rush was born.
A few months later, it became a serious enterprise as an associate, also named François, joined me on board.
After a few years, he really took the head of operations and at the end of summer 2016 I left the company to really focus myself on the lettering business.
Where does your passion for words, letters, calligraphy come from? What are your main influences?
When I really got interested in drawing letters, it has always been more than aesthetics: for me it was important to deliver a message (as funny as possible).
Also, I have never been a "technician" : I love drawing stuff but I never had the patience to be technically perfect, I love making it as beautiful as possible but I'm also interested in saying something.
For the influences, it's not original but Steve Powers, I have always loved his work, it is funny, colourful and there is always a story behind it.
I also love american signpainting, old vintage stuff, Dutch design is also important to me. Old school graffiti, Old school hip-hop are also big influences I guess.
How does cycling influence your art?
When I was in Hush Rush, I was making all the visuals so it was really art about cycling. I never liked drawing bicycles, you have to be good at making circles and I suck at that (laughs).
After I left, cycling didn't influence me much as an artist, it completes me as a human being. When I do lettering, it is mostly a cerebral activity, I train my focus and my dexterity and when I ride, I can empty my head, train my muscles, enjoy the scenery and the pleasure of suffering of course.
Is the cycling culture open to arts? In which manner?
The Fixed Gear trend of a few years ago really brought a lot of "visual" people in the bicycle world. Bicycle became a collectible, an art object. People got more interested in the shape and/or the decoration of the bicycle.
You know, like there are many artists that influenced the skate scene: boards & apparel design, street art... Is there some sort of identical phenomenon in cycling?
Of course it exists. Lots of people are interested in graphic design in general and cycling is globally growing so there is a lot of people in both categories. Also everybody wants to design their own cycling kit.
If you look a few years back, you could only find cycling kits in generic sporting goods stores or getting the "official teams" stuff which is usually ugly.
The difference with the skate scene, for me, is the maturity. It's not a kid drawing on his board, it is almost exclusively small or middle-sized business ventures. It explains itself with the technicality of products. Cycling material and clothing have to respond to certain needs from its users.
Would you describe yourself as a "cycling artist"?
I love both almost equally and it is, for me, the best combination possible but when I'm at my desk, I'm a fulltime artist and same on my bicycle I'm 100% on the road. As I'm always trying to improve myself in both disciplines, I have higher ambitions in arts than in sports mostly because of my physical (un)abilities. So I am an artist who enjoys cycling as a hobby :]
What are your next big projects?
End of this year has been crazy and full of amazing projects. I am currently working on an exhibition about my musical souvenirs and nostalgia in general.
I hope it takes place some time 2018, Stay tuned!