Weaving letters, weaving links...

Weaving letters, weaving links...

the artist pref creates the "shake hands" mural for silversquare liège

The artistic development that characterises Silversquare spaces is extending beyond its walls for the first time. The coworking group has funded a gigantic mural on the street in front of the new Silversquare in Liège. The colourful work titled "Shake Hands", has just been completed by the internationally renowned London street artist PREF. A few steps from the station, the graffiti bridges the gap between the jumble of commuters and the workers meeting in the coworking area. The display of intertwined letters, as if woven together, reminds passersby’s of collaboration and human relationships.

A passion since childhood
As a child, I fell into the pot of underground culture. With a skateboard on my feet and hip-hop in my Walkman, I was fascinated by graffiti. At the flea market, I came across the graffiti bible: "Spraycan Art". It became my bedside book. But at the time, street artists did not have a career.

I studied visual arts, worked for fashion magazines and then launched myself as an entrepreneur. I set up my own design studio...

If only coworking spaces had existed back then, business would have been easier. We rented a tiny office at London prices (!) and I would have loved the flexibility to expand or downsize our space depending on the clients or interns that came in!

At weekends I would roam the city with my spray cans in hand. One day my mother said to me, "You should do something with your graffiti".

My mother, who had to pick me up repeatedly from the police station when I was young… It was she who pushed me to become a full-time artist.

You should do something with your graffiti.

— Pref's mom

The mural for Silversquare is called Shake Hands
The idea behind this work is to talk about collaboration without using the word directly. The letters are intertwined, as if woven together, and there is the idea of shaking hands and weaving bonds, creating a human fabric.

The mural is located a few steps from the station and I like the idea of engaging in conversation, welcoming travellers who get off the train and workers who go to the coworking space.

I painted the letters in different colours as if each was an individual. This work is about diversity, meeting, collaboration, just like Silversquare. The weaving of the letters goes up to the sky, the possibilities are endless...

I want to free the letters and express what I have inside me...
My work is on the borderline between graphic design and art.

You can see it in this fresco: I chose bright colours for the letters, so that they are fully liberated, even disruptive. Letters are my "friends", I don't want to enslave them. In typography, letters are often used to serve brands. They must reflect an image, an idea, respond to the need for legibility, connote a brand image. Typography obeys rules, but not me!

On the other hand, my work is influenced by graphic design, which is new in street art. I mix what I have learned and mastered and make it visible to the world.

Interactions, whether professional, friendly or just for fun, are essential. In my design studio, we worked together all the time. In my profession today, we meet up at "mural festivals", which is our form of networking.
I met my wife, Adèle Renault, on a joint art project in the USA. She's an artist, we work together on works all over the world.

When we were engaged, I was commissioned to do a big mural at Wembley Stadium: "Better Together". We worked on it together. Two weeks later, we got married at my local town hall... which happened to be right across the street from the mural!

Life is made up of coincidences and paths that cross. Spaces like Silversquare are a breeding ground for this. Crossing paths, shaking hands, collaborating, loving...

PREF is a London street artist. His graffiti intermingle and distort letters, create optical illusions, play with volumes, colours and trompe l'oeil, forcing the reader to decipher. He creates murals all over the world as well as paintings.

Article written by Muriel Van Severen

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