He is the most famous mosaicist in the world. For more than 23 years, the French artist has been infiltrating street corners of cities across the world. Franck Slama, better known as Invader, creates characters from tiles that he sticks everywhere : the Space Invaders. He is a French street artist you need to know. He remains anonymous and nobody has ever seen his face. Just like his colleague Banksy, he decides to maintain his privacy by hiding his face with masks. Artsper introduces this famous street artist to you with 10 facts!
1. His artist name is inspired by the famous video game : Space invaders
During his childhood, Franck played “Space invaders”. This video game, published by the Japanese company Taito, was all the rage in the early 80s. Fascinated by the world of technology and pixels, he decided to borrow the video game character and make it a symbol in his art. Wishing to remain anonymous, he adopted the pseudonym of Invader. Tomohiro Nishikado, the Japanese creator of the original game, never gave Invader any trouble as he gradually moved away from the game character and expanded his creations by taking inspiration from pop culture characters.
2. He start next to Zevs
In several of his interviews, Invader mentions the name Zevs. At the end of the 90s he began tagging the streets of Paris with him and developed a passion for urban art. Together, they formed the group @nonymous and produced a DVD which captured their adventures tagging Paris. Zevs is a French contemporary street artist known for his drawings and his numerous logo hijackings. He was instrumental in helping Invader by introducing him to leading artists such as André or JonOne, who were already known by the general public.
3. He has created more than 4,000 works in 79 different cities
Paris, London, Hong Kong, Malaga, Los Angeles – the list goes on … the artist Invader continues to succeed in his mission of conquering the world with his mosaics. So far during 2021, he has produced nearly 4,000 works across the globe and is nowhere near finished. Present in 79 cities around the world, he is also available in many art galleries and on Artsper! On his website you can find the “world invasion”, a map listing the location of each of his works. Originally, his maps were made on paper and are now highly sought after by collectors. The price of a map can go from 100 to 1 000 $ ! In the city of Marseille, the artist has been particularly prolific, producing 80 new Invaders in 2020.
4. Well-hidden works
Everything began in 1998. He installed his first Invader in Paris, near the Place de la Bastille: a small blue character with red eyes. Unfortunately for us, it is impossible to find it today. The work is still there but it has been obscured by a coating of paint. For the artist Invader, it’s his fossil, his first creation, his hidden jewel.
Again in Paris, Invader installed one of his works at the top of the Eiffel Tower in 2019. He stuck a small cloud, in addition to his usual figure. It’s an artwork that is difficult to see from the ground and is only visible to those visiting the Eiffel Tower.
The third work that most people will never see is a small mosaic of about 5,9 Inch which is located at 248 miles altitude, in the international space station. The work was installed in 2015 and is called Space 2.
And after the sky, the sea! Made in 2021, this work is located at the bottom of the bay of Cancun where the artist stuck three of Space Invaders on the ocean floor. A notice to any diving enthusiasts !
5. He breaks his own auction record
Invader’s Rubik’s Mona Lisa, composed of 330 Rubik’s Cubes, was bought in Paris for 570 141. 46 $ at a sale dedicated to urban art. During this sale, in addition to quadrupling his estimated price, Invader broke his own record, which was 264 421. 5 $ for his work Hong Kong Fou Fou, le roi du Kung Fu sold in 2015. This is one of the 10 art market highlights of 2020.
The Mona Lisa, made from Rubik’s Cubes, remains true to the artist’s style featuring his “pixelated” style. Invader then developed two series of works; Rubik Bad Men and Masterpiece. Rubik Mona Lisa was the first work proposed for their launch.
6. Invader has been the victim of theft
He is not the first artist to have his work looted. The most famous theft was by two men in yellow vests who posed as city employees. In the middle of the day, they managed to remove the tiles from the wall and take them, in front of a crowd of spectators. Found a few days later, they were taken into custody. Invader says “a large number of my pieces are ripped off, disfigured or even destroyed by a handful of individuals who seek to trade in them.”
These thefts can be very profitable… as Invader’s work can be sold from a starting price of 12 000 $. On the subject of these unscrupulous thieves, Invader states: “I find it hard to believe that there are buyers to acquire these pieces of unidentifiable tiles when they could, for the same result, go to Leroy Merlin… “
7. He uses glue and tiles
After falling victim to these thefts, Invader decided to make his works with more fragile materials. Therefore, during any attempted thefts the tiles will break instantly. He uses extremely strong glues. Before finding the perfect glue, he needs to carry out many tests. He even uses cement on occasion, which he applies to fix swimming pool tiles, tile mosaics or tesserae. The artist understandably remains very vague on the composition of his products.
8. Space Invaders are accessible on the street, in galleries and now on our mobiles !
When he began, he launched his website Space Invaders, which featured a store to finance the purchase of glue, tiles and cement for his artwork. In 2014, he developed his mobile application Flash Invaders. This app is extremely successful and now has over 140,000 users. The goal of the game is simple: capture as many invaders as possible on the street to earn maximum points. An Invader can earn between 10 and 100 points. The city of Paris, which has about 1,326 Invaders, alone earns a total of 34,160 points.
The application is fun and very easy to use; you just have to take a picture of each invader you come across. Each composition includes a QR code, which the app will recognize. This addictive game, used by the youngest as well as by the elderly, strengthens the rapport between the artist and his supporters.
9. He maintains archives of all his works, even from the beginning…
In order to manage his creations, he stores everything in a database. He enters the date, the place and two photographs from different angles, in addition to numbering them. Every Invader conceived is thought out thoroughly; for example, in the city of Montpellier, the 44 invaders form one giant Invader when outlined on a map. This is the only time Invader has decided to install them in such a way. He explains that he always surveys the location of his artworks 15 days prior to their installation. As such, the location of the college is considered carefully and nothing is done at random. Once satisfied with his work, he makes it known via a post on his social media. Invader has also written several books in which he compiles information about each of his works.
10. Equipped even in detention
A night in custody won’t even stop him … or 22 nights for that matter!
In 2012, during one of his many stays in custody, he decided to install his 284th work. Invader sticks his creation in the office of the agent who was taking his statement. It comprises of a red-colored character with white eyes.
Now you know a little more about Invader. This street artist is a significant 21st century artist. Although these characters are recognisable to all, the artist himself remains anonymous. This paradox has led him to persistently remain a leading figure in urban art. A last anecdote for the end? His last mosaic is in the New York subway on the rails of REVS.