Second artist for today: ELLA / Ella & Pitr duo (FR)
Internationally acclaimed French couple Ella & Pitr specialise in creating large-scale murals of fairytale-like characters. Their gigantic characters can be found sprawled across rooftops, runways, houses, shipping containers and even entire fields; each defined by an innate playfulness and a unique style appropriated from influences as diverse as comics and children’s books to graffiti. As well as producing their trademark gigantic murals the world over, Ella & Pitr have exhibited at international art galleries at home and abroad.
In 2015, as part of Nuart Festival’s 15th Anniversary celebrations, they created the world’s largest outdoor mural in Klepp, Rogaland. Visible from planes flying into and out of Stavanger’s Sola airport, it has quickly become a new international landmark.
“When this duo met, Pitr, serious and of dour demeanor, unrepentant tagger and graffiti artist, had been clandestinely hitting the city walls for close to a decade, and wondering where to take things next. One dark and stormy autumnal night, this solitary individual would pack his rucksack with cans and markers, alone, one last time.
On that very same night, Ella, a bright and energetic young artist looking for ways to engage a larger audience with her character-driven works, had taken to the streets with bucket and paste and an armful of rolled-up paste-ups. Ella & Pitr were, of course, aware of each other’s work, Saint-Étienne being a relatively small town, but they had yet to meet. That evening, as Pitr was just finishing a mid-sized throw-up with a cheeky ultra-wide tag down an unlit alley, a dog started to bark wildly. Quickly packing his rucksack, pulling his hood over his baseball cap, he quickly moved down the street with a well practiced head-down march. Approaching the corner, he broke into a jog.
Several yards down an adjacent street, Ella, dressed in a red and white Polka dot raincoat (with matching hat), had also heard barking, from what she imagined to be a very large and menacing dog. She quickly finished pasting up her work, a hand - coloured illustration of a birthday cake she was going to post for a friend as a surprise. She plonked the brush into the bucket, scooped up the remaining paste-ups, pulled her collar up and her hat down, and sprinted home. Nearing the corner, she instinctively looked over her shoulder, as Pitr, on the other side of the wall, did likewise. Bam! The two crashed into each other at almighty speed, polka dots and paste meeting hoodie and cans in a tangle of arms and legs as they came crashing to the floor together amongst a pile of ruined paste-ups. At that moment, the Prussian-blue clouds parted to reveal a beautiful full moon, beams reflecting incandescently off the glistening street. Laying on their backs, wet and dazed, they looked at each other, then in unison at the moon. “Hey,” said Pitr. “Hi,” said Ella. The rest is history.” — Martyn Reed