Tina Tictone, a young French musician, muralist and street art artist, organized several festivals (Top to Bottom festival in Paris) and participated in many activities such as Néo Muralis (a cross-cultural exchange between France and Israel, 2018). Between projects, she took the time to talk about her art, motherhood and feminism.
The artistic milieu was never very inclusive when it comes to women. When we think about famous artistic movements such as expressionism, romanticism, cubism and naturalism, we barely hear of women painters. This is, surprisingly, still the case in street art and muralism, artistic genres considered to be much more modern. When Tina Tictone was a teenager, she watched her friends graffitiing public spaces and admitted this activity was exclusively masculine: “I think I might have painted more if there had been more girls with me. I did not feel any particular pressure due to the fact that I was a girl. The only thing I remember is that boys did not want to take me with them when the graffiti was too acrobatic”. Although she was not permanently excluded from this activity, she said that “a girl should not be very feminine if she wants to be welcome in this milieu. I had much more male friends at the time”.
Tina, 33 years old, grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s. According to her, the lack of women in street art matches perfectly the spirit of the time back then. In his article entitled “Graffiti as Career and Ideology” (American Journal of Sociology, vol. 94, 1988), Richard Lachmann interviewed 25 graffiti and street artists in New-York city, all working mostly clandestinely. “Graffiti writers are overwhelmingly males” […] who “believed that graffiti should be restricted to men” […] they often define the dangerousness of writing on the subways in terms of women’s inability to participate”.
Tictone insisted that there were no rules regarding the acceptance of women in this milieu and that it depended entirely on the artist herself. Her approach and training are also quite different from other artists. After graduating from high-school, she studied graphic design for a couple of years. “Graphic design was my way to earn a living as it was mostly done as a service to others”. However, her studies enabled her to find interest in the art of others and she soon became interested in the techniques and media other artists were experimenting. “I mostly use acrylic, paintbrush and aerosol spray. At the moment I am inspired by Korean fashion, minimalism, abstract art and the ready-made art. I am always searching for the right colors. I was inspired by many artists but the most influential were: Juan Miro, Franck Stella, Dan Flavin, Shepard Fairey and also Japanese Tokae artists”.
Tictone is very busy. She travels a lot in France and abroad. Her partner is also a well-known street artist in France (Taroe) and they have two kids. She admitted they had never competed with each other. “On the contrary, it brings us closer. We respect each other for our talents. We share our opinion on each one’s work very often”. This method of “peer reviewing” is not new. Richard Lachman showed that historically “muralists identify their peers as an audience better able than the public at large to discern and appreciate stylish murals”. He explained that “muralists’ qualitative conception of style allowed them to develop a total art world, formulating aesthetic standards for evaluating one another’s murals’’.
The combination of motherhood and street art seems fun but there is a price to pay: “Being a mother and an artist is great. I find inspiration outside and bring it back home. Nevertheless, it is not simple to be two parents who are also artists, since we must juggle between our schedules and our responsibilities as parents. We’re also very busy and at times, not available enough for the kids’’.
Tictone never had a mentor. She observed, got inspired, trained herself and gained experience. She loves painting various female body types and explore different styles of femininity. The women she paints on walls usually do not reveal their face. “I simply leave it blank so observers could easily identify themselves with the object depicted on the mural”. She also likes to paint works which would make her viewers laugh. In many cases, her murals are accessible to the public so her works become interactive and the viewers can temporarily become part of the it.
Key words: Tina Tictone, street art, women, motherhood, graffiti.