1) Alright so thanks for taking the time out to do this interview, can we get a brief run down of who you are and how long have you been in the game? What crew do you rep and how did you get the name HEST?

I grew up in Paris, and it was in 1989, at the beginning of my adolescence that I began to get involved in this practice; I can say that things were set up naturally and logically in my life, with regard to the environment in which I grew up, of my personality, and of the generation to which I belong.

I started to wrote Hest following various technical and graphic reflections if i can say… 4 quick letters to execute and chain , an unusual letter, silent and sharp in introduction, a name that has no particular meaning and therefore had less chance of being taken by another writer.

With the time and study that I conducted on the symbolism of letters, I understood that chance does not exist and that this name represents me well beyond my own understanding.

Icer5 and Stare formed NME and I joined the Crew as soon as we met in 1999; after 25 years, the saga continues.

2) Man you are crazy prolific and it looks like it has paid off for you, with 13k followers what does it feel like for so many people to dig your work? Were there times when you thought this wasn’t going to be viable for you?

To be honest, even though I am proud and grateful, that so many people enjoy my work to date, I do not focus on this kind of volatile and virtual data;  I have never had another motivation than to respond to what I am above all, to cultivate what drives me with sincerity, dedication, discipline and humility, but without focusing on what people think of the direction I am taking in my quest. 

I had the chance to travel and live in different countries and this naturally allowed me to meet many people with whom I have forged strong ties over time. These are the experiences that set up my real network, the only one that really matters to me.

When we sincerely cultivate what drives us, we do not wonder whether it will be viable or whether we will be able to profit from it in one way or another, we devote ourselves to our task out of necessity and conviction, not out of greed and ambition. I do not sail according to the trend; since the beginning, I write my own History.

3) One of the things I want to mention is you also do custom pieces and exhibits, what made you want to get into putting your stuff up for work in a gallery setting and selling original pieces? I imagine you must have a pretty good amount of people who want to own your work!

I have never made a “career plan”; things happen naturally according to the meetings, the timing and my motivation.

I sometimes invest in this or that project depending on the challenge it represents for me… or my simple desire to “please”, in terms of customizing parts in particular. Painting or drawing is a daily need, but I do not have the desire to be seen, to expose myself or to “put a price” on everything I create, as some do. 

I never had to depend on it to live, having from the beginning of my adolescence learned a profession that allowed me to assume my responsibilities and my choices, but above all, to preserve my inspiration and my passion without having to dilute it to make it profitable.

4) I see a lot of your work is mostly in Montreal, do you get the chance to get out and travel around to paint these days or do you usually stay in your home turf? Any travel stories you can share?

I have lived in different countries, so I have family around the world, so I travel regularly but not necessarily to paint;

Graffiti is an important part of my life but does not represent everything I am; I always have a marker in my pocket, but I do not always feel the need to tag; when I travel, it is the same: if the opportunity presents itself, then I am still in favour, but I can also live without; in some places still preserved from “urbanization”, I do not believe that this is really necessary either.

5) What is your favorite documentary or book that covers the history or major players of graffiti and why?

I have two books that naturally come to mind to answer your question: Stephen Powers’ book “The art of Getting Over” and Karim Boukercha’s “Descente Interdite”. These two books offer a profound look at what drives this movement and these activists, on the very essence of what characterizes this practice, its growth and its mutation over time.

6) For those wanting to follow in your footsteps, what kind of advice do you give? I see you do lots of stuff, you paint originals, do silk screens, murals and even paint surfboards. Do you think that it’s important for an artist to diversify to secure the kind of income they need to thrive as an artist?

As the saying goes: “Do not walk in the footsteps of your masters, seek what they have sought”

For the rest, everyone must find and accomplish the goal of his existence, to take the paths and overcome the obstacles that lead to it:

 “when you are at the end of your quest, look straight ahead and continue”, as another says.

7) With so much success on social media, do you think keeping up with social media trends and changes takes time away from your work or do you think it adds to your work? I’m sure it’s been a huge part of your success as an artist but I imagine it’s also a pain keeping in touch with people when instagram likes to change up its algorithm. Do you have a presence on other platforms?

I have never considered trends, or what it takes to “exist” on these platforms, primarily because I have nothing to sell, and because I do not try to be anything other than what I am every day: 

I draw thinking about my next piece, I find time and material for it, I go around friends to see who wants to paint, I live my moment, I take my picture and I start drawing again thinking about the next ones… it’s as simple as that and it’s been going on for years…

Now, the “success” you speak of is only the positive consequence of what transpires from my creations and my personality, through hard work and determination to try to raise one’s own level, or what I have shared with the people whose lives have allowed me to cross the road; I have nothing, but I am rich in my experiences and those deep ties that I have forged and solidified over time, across the world.

I’m happy to share my work with those who appreciate, and that it inspires, just as I can sometimes be by watching the work of other artists, but I make sure I don’t get mesmerized by my phone because you can quickly get lost in the röle you give yourself and what you really are, between the “real” and the “virtual”… I have no desire, nor need, to share my daily life through endless “story”, the least of my graffiti under the pretext of being “active or present”, to paint things in fashion or that are in tune with the times, with the technique to one and the style of the other, with such a play on colour because he did, by staging each of my gestures to make it visual.

I respond to people who communicate with me and I cultivate the link with the people I meet and who share the same state of mind and the same way of being.

8) What’s your go-to hip-hop artist to listen to while you’re working? Who would you say is underappreciated in hip-hop that deserves more recognition?

Music has always been omnipresent in my creative process or in my daily life; I like diverse genres and moods depending on the time of day or how I feel. I am very eclectic in my selections when I draw and I can quickly move from one atmosphere to another. I’m fond of new discoveries, but I always go back to my classics.

Hip Hop side, the list could be long but lately I listen a lot to the last album of L’Uzine (La 26ème lettre), as well as all their musical production; Souffrance, Cenza, etc. that of Rocca produced by DJ Duke (Cimarron) is really heavy too!

9) Thanks again for taking the time out to chat, Any shoutouts you would like to give? Where can people follow you and purchase your work?

To all those who share their Love, their Respect, and their motivation: One Love!

Those interested can see my work and contact me directly on my Instagram page: hest1_graffiti