An Interview with Zekwer

In honor of his show here 1AM, we thought it would be a great idea to interview Zekwer and get to know more about him, his Alphabetism series, and the street art scene as a French artist.

What was your inspiration for the Alphabetism series?

For this series, my source of inspiration was simply the thousands of letters that I have seen throughout my life. But I work a lot on spontaneity, try to always maintain this side of freestyle that gives you some freedom but also doesn’t give you room for error. I scraped a lot of pieces after I started this medium, so after a while you try to combine multiple styles and then it becomes natural.

Pour cette série, ma source d’inspiration est tout simplement les milliers de lettrages que j’ai put voir tout au long de ma vie. Mais je travaille beaucoup sur la spontanéité, essayer de toujours garder ce côté freestyle qui te donne une part de liberté mais qui ne te donne pas droit à l’ erreur aussi. J’ai gratté des milliers de feuilles depuis que je suis rentré dans ce milieu, donc au bout d’un moment tu essayes de combiner plusieurs styles et le tracé devient naturel.

Do you have a favorite letter/piece in the series?

Yes, definitely and at the time I noticed that letters that I would have hated in my own work, became friends and no longer vulgar, useless shapes. But my preferred ones are W X K Y C G R.

Oui bien-sûr et au fil du temps je me suis aperçus que des lettres que j’aurai détesté avoir dans mon lettrage sont devenus des amies et non plus de vulgaire formes inutiles. Mais, mes préférées sont le W X K Y C G R


What’s the graffiti scene like over in France compared to here in the US?

What stuck out to me was the lack of open, friendly space where everyone can paint. Here you have to find your own small patch/space on a wall belonging to some store and each artist, has their own playground/territory.

In France, you can go to different cities and you will always find enormous areas that have been closed down and find artists to make connections with or dare each other with large pieces. The level of artistry on the streets is really impressive but I’ll always have a preference for the European scene when it comes to murals.

La chose qui m’as le plus marqué est le manque de gros terrain convivial ou tt le monde peut peindre, ici tu dois trouver ton petit carré de mur chez le commerçant et chaque tracteurs à son propre terrain de jeux. 

En France , tu peux aller dans différentes villes et tu trouveras toujours un énorme spot désaffecté et rencontrer des artistes pour créer des connexions ou se défier via de grosses productions.Le le niveau dans la rue est vraiment impressionnant mais j’ai toujours une préférence pour la scène européenne en ce qui concernent les fresques.
How did you and RPES become friends?

We come from a small town where everyone knows each other, so it makes sense to run into each other at the only spot in the city where we could paint. When you practice this type of art in a small town, the connections form a lot faster. And after all, he is a good guy.

Nous sommes originaire d’une petite ville où tt le monde se connait dc c’ était logique de se rencontrer dans l unique spot de la ville.Quand tu pratique cet art dans une petite ville les connections se font plus vite. De plus, c’un bon gars.

What would you say has been your biggest challenge as an artist?

To have people understand that graffiti is an artistic movement and not visual pollution.

Faire comprendre aux gens que le graffiti est un mouvement artistique et non pas de la pollution visuelle.

How do you want people to respond to your work?

Preferably in a positive manner if it’s other artists, but if it’s not to each their own. Everyone is allowed to think what they want about my art. What matters is that I seek to please, paint, design, and evolve.

De préférence de manière positive sin ça vient d’autres artistes mais sinon je laisse libre à chacun de penser ce qu’il veut de mon art, le principal c’est que je trouve du plaisir a peindre,dessiner et évoluer.

Aside from your art, what other things are you passionate about?

Travelling!!! Meeting new people in new places. But otherwise, I’m a sports addict.

Voyager!!!! Rencontrer de nouvelles personnes, de nouveaux lieux. Mais sinon je suis un accroc de sport.

What’s coming up next for your career?

 Actually, I just finished moving to the island of Reunion, so I’m taking advantage of spending time with my family and the views of paradise, maybe putting together an exposition or two. But painting from all four corners of the world is still my ultimate goal.
Actuellement je viens de m’installer sur l’île de la réunion,dc je profites avec ma famille et je profites de cadre paradisiaque et réaliser une  expo ou deux.
Mais peindre ds les quatre coin du monde reste mon kiff ultime.
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Kickin’ it with TWITTER

Twitter came by this past week to learn the history of graffiti and create their own group mural on our wall outside! Check out pictures of their creative mural making process below:

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For team building workshops and private class inquiries please contact


Street Art and Social Change: Mobstr Mocks Public Advertising


One of the strongest political channels in the street art movement is the questioning of what is allowed and what isn’t allowed in our shared public spaces. Advertisements are almost everywhere we look today in most major cities, and some artists and activists question what this does to our individual and societal psyche. What effect does being pummeled by consumerism, commodity, and lifestyle advertisements have on us? Well, one very well known critique is the British artist, Mobstr. Mobstr is known for his urban interventions, and progression pieces, which he “collaborates” with city cleaners/buffers. Today we look at a couple new pieces by Mobstr which invite observers to questions both the lack of democratic process involved in what happens in our public spaces, and also the effects of technology, image, and self-absorption. Well done, Mobstr!


Back to School with Marshall Elementary

Fall is here! As students are settling into their classes all over San Francisco, the students at Marshall Elementary school are showing off their new mural on 15th street — painted and designed by the 2nd through 5th graders.

Made possible by funding and volunteers from Google and Deloitte, 1AM worked with Marshall Elementary and Mission Graduates to beautify Marshall Elementary School’s north-facing wall, on the corner of 15th & Capp Street. The corner was previously a dull, beige color, that didn’t have any visual indication of children or learning inside–sometimes creating a problem with loitering and drug use.

In the last week of school this past June, we visited the after-school program at Marshall Elementary to explain a bit about the importance of murals and public art in urban cities. The students then each designed their own mural concept, based on their S.T.E.A.M. curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). A school-wide cafeteria vote was held, and the students selected their top 3 designs.

Our artists drafted a sketch based off these 3 designs, and got set to paint. School ended, and the summer program started with Mission Graduates. Each afternoon for a week, we met with the kids and volunteers, teaching them how to use spray paint to create a community mural for their school. From 2nd to 5th grade, everyone painted their own portion–even the teachers!

A special thank you again to the SFUSD, Marshall Elementary, Mission Graduates, Google, and Deloitte! This was one of our most special projects to date.

For custom mural inquiries:

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Hellbent’s “Remnants” Opening Night Recap

We had a blast Thursday night with the opening of “Remnants,” by JMikal Davis, aka Hellbent. A huge thanks to everyone who came out to join us–it was great to see some familiar faces, and awesome to see so many new ones checking out the stunning resin work. If you weren’t able to make it to opening night, don’t worry. Hellbent’s untamed colors and wild lines will still be up on display until October 13th, so be sure to come on by and take in all the energy!

A special congratulations to Hellbent for his amazing collection!

You can view the full “Remnants” collection here. For inquiries:

“Everyone Deserves a Home,” Finished!

Last Wednesday, crowds gathered at Boeddeker Park to see the finished six-story mural that had been in the works for so long. This colorful, vibrant addition to the Windsor Hotel is the product of many months of designing, revising, and careful execution by the 1AM Mural Team, and the community has received it with overwhelming praise. “Everyone Deserves a Home” is a testament to the community of the Tenderloin and a promise of hope and security. This mural, overlooking the recently revamped park, bring new life and vibrancy to the Tenderloin community. A big thanks and congrats to DISH, Friends of Boeddeker Park, and the Community Challenge Grant Program for allowing 1AM to help achieve this awesome goal! Read more about the project’s impact on the neighborhood from Hoodline, here.

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A Drink with Deb…

With the opening of Motel Mademoiselle, we thought it would be cool to have an interview with one of the artists, the fabulous Deb, so that we could get into her head and see what it is that makes her the great woman she is.

Hi Deb! First off, mermaid or good witch?

Hmm.. Merwhitch?

What made you leave Melbourne and move to San Francisco?

I had been wanting to live in USA for many years before I made the move. I had travelled the states a few times growing up as I have extended family in NY and LA and funnily enough I had always wanted to move to either of those two states. About 5 years ago I made a 7 week trip and spent time in NY, LA and SF and completely fell in love with SF, the people, and the art scene here is great. I flew back to Melbourne and I was like, “It’s time.” I need a change in scenery. I love Melbourne completely but my life was beginning to feel like that movie Groundhog Day. I have been working super hard on applying to obtain citizenship for years now so hopefully that will happen soon. I am completely in love with SF and this is where I want to stay.


A lot of your art includes goddesses, mythical entities, and a wide variety of other religiously symbolic imagery. Do you consider yourself religious? Can you explain your relationship to these powerful icons?

No, I am not religious at all. I love to explore other cultures in a lot of my art and other belief systems but I am especially drawn to Hindu art in a big way. It has so many wild stories and meanings and so much of Hinduism is about being peaceful and a good human. I love portraying my women to be a complete mix of different cultures from all over the place. My art has always portrayed this. I also like to travel so I get inspired by the way people live in all different parts of the globe.

If your characters could come to life, what would you envisioning them doing? Who are Debs Dolls?

They would do a lot of Rollerskating. Eat heaps of vegan donuts blow high bubbles with bubble gum, sleep a lot on hammocks, swim with dolphins and fly with unicorns, you know usual stuff like that… Um, also definitely hang out with animals that spoke the same language and have crazy wild tea parties like Alice in Wonderland, jump through portals, argh this question is too broad.



Name three of your modern day favorite super heroines.

Poison Ivy, She Ra Princess of Power, Sucker for Wonder Woman.

In the past you’ve donated to a lot of charities and contributed art to campaign for social change. What are a few causes that motivate you and your art right now?

I continue to raise money for cancer. Suicide, people with eating disorders, homelessness are ones I have tried to help with a lot. I am big on helping for charity as much as I can handle every year, for every year I have been a freelance artist I have taken as much time as I can possibly handle to help out with charities. Actually, I think there have been a few years I spend more time raising money for charities than myself. There has to be a balance so I don’t fall out of my own balance, but it is one thing that makes me happy and feel like the unspoken Karma I will hopefully get in return will help me get through life.. but I do as much as I can.

What are your favorite pair of heels currently on deck?

100% my ice-cream heals made by my good friends Fiebiger shoes, who I have collaborated with and more to come.

Describe your power suit.

My power suit is a giant strawberry and mint chocolate chip ice-cream suit that would light up and glow and shoot out colored paint any time people try to bite into my giant ice-cream power suit. It’s vegan, of course.

As a woman, what would you say has been your biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome it? Conversely, what has been your biggest victory?

When I was young any boys saying, “you can’t paint its a boys thing!!” Drove me nuts, persistence pays off I guess. Another big one is a couple of years ago my painting hand started to get really bad and I deal with multiple issues still now. Pretty much everything I paint now causes me pain. At first I stopped painting for 6 months to try let it get better but it keeps flaring up when I use it. This is a constant challenge for me. In the time I tried to not use it I was severely depressed and I have decided that not painting is more painful emotionally then physically painting as much as I can handle. You do what you have to do to get by. I paint, that’s my thing, that’s why I was put on this earth. I will always paint. I have been trying to become ambidextrous, it’s tough. I’m keeping on it in the hope it will become a thing, that I can use both my hands or even the less dominant one more often to give the other one a break.


What’s next for Deb?

What’s next.. ? Heaps! I can’t tell you but I have a lot of amazing things lined up one after the next to shoot out to the world, stay tuned. Thank you for this interview, this was for sure one of the funnest interviews I have had in awhile!

For inquiries about available work from Deb, please contact


Recap: Opening Night of Motel Mademoiselle

Thanks to everyone who came to the opening of Motel Mademoiselle! It was great to see so many friends of the gallery enjoying the badass work of these talented women. And a special shoutout to B-Side Brujas for getting everyone dancing! Don’t worry if you missed opening night, you still have a chance to visit the gallery for your daily dose of femme fatale! Motel Mademoiselle is on display until September 15th. Check out all of the crazy opening night photos on our Facebook page. For catalog inquiries:

Congratulations Deb, Bud Snow, Chuneed, Amanda Payne, Elrod, Franceska Gamez, Nina (Girl Mobb), Yenta, Midnite Maven, & Moe Alvarez!! Let’s continue to support women in the arts!





Activist Artist Spotlight: Shamsia Hassani

Hassani's "Birds of No Nation"

Hassani’s “Birds of No Nation”

Shamsia Hassani is the first well-known female street artist in Afghanistan. Through her art, she aims to subvert the perspective of Muslim women as oppressed and belonging to the home–a view held by many in her own community and the in the Western world. Her characters are most often depicted wearing burkas or hijabs, and are seen outside, holding musical instruments that represent freedom of voice and expression. The compositions are rendered with distinct lines and decisive shapes to convey strength in her characters. Hassani strives to destroy the association of hijabs with oppression by illustrating characters who find freedom within tradition, and are not restricted by expected gender roles.

Hassani also portrays feelings of displacement and a rejection of nationality dealt with by Afghan refugees; her characters are often distanced from their surroundings, looking at them from above. In her piece, Birds of No Nation, she explains, “Birds are constantly migrating to find food and shelter, they have no nationality because they find comfort in any safe place. I see this in the Afghan people as well, they are moving from country to country in search of peace and safety. It seems as if they have no nation like those birds. In this series, the woman is in a new area and she is feeling displaced because nothing is hers and so she does not fit in.” Shamsia Hassani challenges established perspectives and recreates an identity for Afghan women that transcends limits of nationality and marginalization.

Opening Night Recap: Eddie Colla & Bask’s “Nothin Nice”

Thank you everyone who came to the opening reception for Eddie Colla & Bask’s “Nothin Nice”! We were excited to see Eddie and Bask fans, other artists, and friends of 1AM at the reception. The evening started off with a giveaway of 50 original small works by Bask. Inside the gallery, Eddie Colla’s striking portraits stood side by side with gestural text-based works by Bask. Eddie’s “We Are Shadows, And Night Falls” lit up the entire gallery after sunset, truly one of the highlights of the show. If you missed the opening, the “Nothin Nice” will be on display until August 18th… Swing by to see what all the talk is about!

You can check out photos from opening night on our Facebook page. For inquiries and catalog requests: