The first big mural - thoughts shared by Laeti Drawi

This year the Graffopost project appeared spontaneously in our artistic program. With the arrival of Laetitia Gardies in the Visionary team in April, and getting to know her art and talent (check out her account - @laetidrawi), we decided to challenge her with a wall - after all this is what we do. To experience in the first point of view the full process of a Visionary project in the shoes of an artist is a priceless understanding of what our contribution both to the artistic scene and the public space is meant to be.

We had our eyes on a wall in the neighbourhood, where the Visionary studio is located for a while now, and we thought it is just the perfect size for a good beginning of  Laeti. This unusual electric station was the home of а poor wanderer with 3 dogs. The past winter was harsh and the man died but the dogs stayed. Then, the people in the neighbourhood continued taking care of them, and this is how they slowly were united as a community by this purpose.

Recognizing the need for a change in this corner, Visionary`s team decided to bring color to the neighbourhood with the 11th edition of Graffopost, and contribute to the community care of the place and the doggies. Laeti jumped right into the idea and this is how the “Carnavalesque” mural appeared and totally swapped the mood of the area.


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Here is what Laetitia is sharing about her first experience as an urban artist in the public space of Sofia and first bigger wall creation:

This urban art project created links and my painting got people's attention and revived the spot as a place to stop, talk and share. During the painting I met diverse people with different backgrounds and education - I met strangers, old sophisticated ladies, kids, artists, young people, and each time they shared with me what face they associated with somehow. And at the end, I felt very happy that my faces created a sort of a connection and the viewers truly relate to the mural. A face could remind them of an emotion - like joy, a human state - like being high or drunk, but also famous popular characters - like the Cookie monster from Sesame Street, or even traditional Bulgarian Kuker masks, or pharaon, and many more. People were intrigued and it didn’t leave the wall indifferent.




I know and have heard many times that street art is meant to make people stop and question it. I am so glad that my art influenced others in such a way. But still I was fascinated how easily people in Sofia just stop and start talking to you. They are not in a constant rush, not stressed and stuck in their individual clock, as it is for example in Paris (from my experience in this city). More than 20 people just stopped me because they were concerned about where the 3 dogs went, if I saw them, and at the end I could feel that it was a real topic in this street which united the habitants.


That made me see Sofia`s urban space in a totally different perspective and brought insight for me regarding the public art in general - that there is a real community existing and people appreciate seeing their surroundings colorful and filled with art. There are less limits and it feels quite fluid to build a project out in the street as people genuinely care about the life on the street, in the park, and the urban vibe is important for them.


I had many discussions with people in the street during the painting process. The funniest one was with an Indian guy who stopped by and told me that we met already in a past life. He offered me baklava and we started talking about past lives and Hinduism for almost half an hour. 

I also had really interesting talks with old sophisticated ladies from the nearby buildings - they were my favorite ones, and really surprised me that they were one of the most open minded people that I met during these past few days of painting. They wanted to understand more deeply my concept and purpose towards my painting so they expressed authentic concern and interest to the project.

One of them told me that she saw lost faces without connection between one another. But then I shared with her my purpose and inspiration to depict a variety of faces representing the diversity of people and emotions. One of my main goals was by combining together happy and sad emotions to emphasize on the acceptance of each emotion as a counterpoint of the world being split in duality as it is taught by many religions. At the end it took her not longer than 10 mins to appreciate it and see exactly the opposite of what she saw in the beginning.




“Painting as one, two or more faces, is like a reminder how beautiful it is when we are united in diversity,  and by using colors, I can balance the sad expressions with joy.” - shares Laetitia Gardies


Moreover, those faces and their shapes are directly related to traditional masks that could be found in many different cultures during celebrations on the street or to pay tribute to dead people. In this case, I feel that my mural and my faces are a tribute to the poor wanderer who died last winter. Indeed, I feel that today, people are mostly afraid of death and see it as something only related to sadness, but I would like to emphasize that we can always keep something good from the past no matter if it is to celebrate dead people, or just celebrate sad emotions that lots of people are hiding with “masks” everyday.

In my art, I am influenced by the spiritual processions in India and Sri Lanka where there are a lot of people with colorful costumes and masks, and under the rhythm of music they dance and share their gratitude and appreciation of how someone lived their life. So painting in public space faces similar to masks, with a lot of bright colors, I think it’s like bringing them to life and dancing like in carnaval. As when it comes to the strong outlines and the shapes of the faces, I find my inspiration in the Avant-garde artistic period. Indeed, the approach in Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism which as art movements are, to a certain extent, influenced by African art and masks, impacts the shapes of my characters.




My personal approach usually is to draw my faces by never stopping the line. I never know what the result is gonna be but the line is what creates the composition and then I see links between different shapes and make details. When I sketched my idea for this project and put it in colours, I had the opportunity to have the advice of the Visionary team. I am really grateful to do my internship and work in this beautiful and inspiring organization because I feel that they support me and understand my deep willingness to develop my art, to express myself, and to share and relate it with others and the public. At the beginning, when we talked about painting this wall, I didn’t expect so much from it, so much highlightness and sharing with the audience. I painted for 4 days, around 10 hours per day, and the time was passing so fast, I was feeling like a big cloud, absorbed by all my faces, which were for the first time on a big scale, much larger than me. But I felt also in a cloud connected to the people living in the neighbourhood, and I found a lot of sense by contributing to the public space and making people happy with my art.


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In the end, I understand much more now the purpose of art in public space and the engagement of Visionary - creating links with community, public and mural artists than we are working with as well, the process of painting, how it could be intense and physical!

It was a pleasure for me to collaborate with Visionary for this project and grateful to be part of the Graffopost vol. 11. This motivated me to keep developing my skills in painting in the public space as well as my artistic style. Regarding this, people from the street asked me to paint their doors or places, a good start, isn't it?



Photos: Mihaela Draganova

Project Graffopost vol.11 feat. Laeti Drawi is part of Graffopost :: Neighbourhoods initiative.

Check out more photos from the project HERE.