Graffiti Is a Form of Self-Advertising: Alexandre Hildebrand, Publicis Conseil

da Dasha Ovsyannikova

Publicis Conseil
Advertising/Full Service/Integrata
Paris, Francia
See Profile

Tell us a bit about yourself and your side hustle.

Well, I work in the advertising industry for 22 years now… and actually, I had already a side hustle long before I started working.

During the ’80s, at the age of 12, I fell into Hip Hop movement and I started doing graffiti. Like rappers or break-dancers, my whole youth was dedicated to this culture.… At this time, it was a bit risky because it was far from what any parents would wish for their children. No one knew that later it would become popular, inspiring fashion, music and today’s lifestyle.


What inspired you to start your side hustle? How long have you been doing it?

My life changed when I saw the TV show “Hip Hop” in 1984, this TV show was a shock for an entire generation. A subculture coming from the US with kids spinning on their head and dancing in front of graffiti. Kind of magic for a kid of the ’80s…


Does your side hustle benefit the community in any way? If not, do you plan on using it to give back at some point?

Graffiti is a phenomenon that appears in big cities, it’s just an expression of an era but it’s also vandalism. Today, it has become an artistic movement, recognized by institutions, gallerists, museums... They call it "Street Art". And every art benefits the community in some ways by giving them the chance to express themselves. Graffiti and “Street Art” are ways for the population to express their voice by using public spaces.


What motivates you to keep hustling?

I keep on painting because I just love it. And eventually, this form of expression has become something big. With time, unexpected opportunities appeared in many different worlds or industries. It was the same with Rock and Roll, Punks and Rap. All those alternatives cultures eventually became mainstream.  


Were there any specific skills you needed to start this project? Has your day job helped in developing those skills? 

No, because I was in graffiti long before I started advertising. But graffiti is a form of self-adverting. You write your name everywhere and where everybody can see your name. 

More seriously, I think that graffiti writers have always been inspired by advertising, the goals are the same: become famous, touch people’s mind, and impress the mass. The only difference is that graffiti writers have nothing to sell and everything to lose… At least in the beginning.

But advertising has also been inspired by graffiti. Street marketing and guerrilla marketing are totally inspired by the graffiti writer’s strategies.


Does your side hustle benefit your day-to-day work?

Yes, because graffiti writers are very creative to find new ways to shine.

And advertising uses the same tricks. Those worlds are connected. I love them both. 


What have you learned since you began your side hustle? Has it evolved it evolved the years?

Yes, from a forbidden activity created by children, it has become a recognized form of art today. We never asked for money, we never said people should love us. We did that just for us. And today, brands, galleries and institutions give us many opportunities. I would say: it‘s a reward, not a goal. 


Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives & executives on how to pursue their passion projects on the side?

Maybe it sounds cliché but I think everybody should have a passion, something you just do naturally, for nothing but pleasure. Some people run after love, kids and a good job. Others simply follow their passion. And as Stephen King says: “if you can do it for the joy, you can do it forever." 


Website and social media:


The first Hip-Hop TV Show in France (1984):