#rebootoberkampf
@Siegfried Gony

First of all a few words about Le Mur:

A former billboard situated on the corner between Rue Oberkampf and Saint Maur that in 2003 was taken over by the association, who, with permission of local town hall, invites a new artist almost every 2 weeks to apply their artwork. Over the years, it became one of the most important places for street artists to get noticed.

@Siegfried Gony
@ Siegfried Gony

All performances were cancelled since the lockdown, but since May 11th, artist Thomas Louis Jacques Schmitt (one of the heads of association) decided to #rebootoberkampf. Every day he comes at the spot and creates an image using his original cutting technique. Thanks to him, the place stays alive.

@ Siegfried Gony
@ Siegfried Gony

We interviewed Thomas to find out more about the beginnings of Le Mur and his career as an artist:

As I was working in a call center as my day job. One day, May 14th 2000 to be exact, I decided to start a new activity on the weekends. I began going to the corner of my street and glueing paper forms on the big billboard. It reminded me of the time I used to practice stencil art as a teenager growing up in Toulouse.

My collages kept getting removed, making a spot for yet another idea. At that time, I used to carry around a utility knife to remove the stickers of Front National whenever I found one. I decided to use the knife in my work, and this is how, almost by chance, I found my new technique. I would start cutting through the layers of advertisement.

I eventually lost my day job, but I kept cutting. At the time, the word “street art” was yet to be invented.

@ Siegfried Gony
@ Siegfried Gony

By the end of June 2000, I have met Invader whose studio was not far away from my billboard. Later I’ve also met ZEVS, famous for his night shadows and André, the hipster-graffer. I started introducing myself as Tom Tom, which was my childhood nickname. It soon became Thom Thom, which is the name I use until today.

9/11 was a turning point for all of us. One night, Invader told me: “Have you heard the new name they call us…? Street Artist”.

Today is 20 years from his first intervention at the place now known as Le Mur Oberkampf.

Written by:

Kasia Klon foundress of Street Art Tour Paris; artist (MFA in painting and printmaking) and a licensed tour guide.

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