ESTIM is a Paris-born graffiti artist that draws influences from the things that he grew up surrounded by - Football and rap.
Most young boys grow up and dream of playing football. It quickly becomes clear whether they're cut out for it or not though. For the majority of people, it remains a dream. ESTIM has used his love of football in a unique way - just as he idolised the players as a kid, he's grown up to use his skills with a can to pay homage to his team, Paris Saint-Germain, in a way that reflects not only his and his friends lives, but that of many of the players.
Graffiti, football and rap might seem like disparate lifestyles, but they all have one thing in common - the people that practice them, that spend their lives honing their talent in them, often come from very similar backgrounds. The people that make their name in each very rarely come from aristocratic backgrounds with a silver spoon in their mouth. Footballers first kick balls off of walls, graffiti artists draw on them and rappers sit atop them inventing rhymes with their mates. The street is the trunk from where it all grows - the disciplines are only branches.
Paris is one of the most important cities in the world for graffiti - it's next to New York and London as the global trend-setter and innovator. ESTIM carries the spirit of innovation in his tags that can be spotted around the city. It's not just colours that fill his old-school letters, but the patterns associated with the world's leading designers - Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada.
On one long wall next to Centequatre Paris - Rue d'Aubervilliers, ESTIM has covered a huge stretch of wall with the initials, number and portrait of the players from his beloved PSG. Their cleanness, scale and dimensions are impressive. Through both the font and expression of the players - he captures something fundamental about their character. An inclusion of their nickname gives you all the biography you need to understand them.
It's a humbling sight. ESTIM paints these guys as something to keep him busy at the weekend. The faces are no different to his in that they started out in similar circumstances, only one has taken one path and one taken another. As much as football can often be seen as art, likewise his art pays homage to the sport.
It's not just us that has noticed his work though. It started out as only being a couple of players until he got so much positive feedback that he's nearly completed the whole team - covering around 100m of the wall. The feedback wasn't just from friends or fans though - eventually the players heard about the portraits too. There's a picture of young French phenomenon Kylian Mbappé next to his piece posing - the ultimate compliment.
Having grown up with graffiti, it is still the old-school that interests ESTIM. His influences mainly come from the Netherlands, US and France - where early graffiti and rap were highly politicised movements. They're not as much anymore though, politics tends to be left to politicians and music and art seem to be regarded as entertainment. The roots of the movements are largely forgotten by anyone who exists outside of these disciplines.
"I feel more like an entertainer" he says, although his work has value beyond just being aesthetically pleasing. The idolatry of football players is nothing new, but having it manifest in such a bold artistic form as these mini-murals is a way to cross interest groups. Rap and graffiti will always come together - they're synonymous from our first exposure of them.
Football is often something forgotten about as coming from the same core of people though. His paintings ground the players in the environment that they came from, but also remind onlookers that these young men are heroes to so many. ESTIM has acknowledged this in a powerfully Parisian way and as a result has been asked by Paris Saint-Germain to paint the walls of their Parc des Princes stadium this summer. I get the feeling that once the team has been fully painted and the walls of the stadium done, that the rest of his life will just be getting started.
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