Sometimes seeing something doesn’t always mean understanding something. For instance, if you’ve been in the Los Angeles region lately, chances are you’ve seen something called “Vegan Club.” These pop art posters depict celebrities such as actor Jared Leto, Alkaline Trio singer/guitarist Matt Skiba, singer Morrissey, Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, tattoo artist Kat Von D, actor Brad Pitt, and Radiohead singer/guitarist Thom Yorke, but perhaps you still don’t know what Vegan Club means. We didn’t either, which is why we sat down with founder Constantin Le Fou to discuss the merging of street art with veganism, how he began his journey, and the next people he plans to immortalize via his work.
VegNews: How did you first begin Vegan Club?
Constantin Le Fou: I have always been artistic, but I took 20 years off. My mother sent me a quote that said something like, “It’s a crime to not do what you’re good at.” I realized how much I’ve always loved communicating my ideas through art, and I realized how simple it could be to combine pop art and veganism. I started with Brad Pitt and moved onto Moby, Prince, and River Phoenix. I try to use good people and good messages in my art.
VN: When approaching a new piece, how do you visualize and then form that vision into reality?
CLF: I have no idea what I am doing (laughs), but I’m super hyper, and I think I am very good at connecting things. I use the energy of those around me, training myself to combine things and say, “This works.”
VN: What influenced you to go vegan?
CLF: I never really cared for my own health—I cared more for the animals. I would watch the movies promoting veganism but only ever was struck by the animals suffering. One day I was stuck in traffic near Barstow, and there was a pig truck next to me. It was very hot that day. I turned on the AC for my dogs and at first didn’t even think of the pigs. Then I said, “Wait a minute—those pigs are in the heat too, but they aren’t getting any AC.” Right there I said my dogs are going vegan. While the dogs were vegan I would make meatballs, and they would go crazy, so I said, “Ok, you know what? I have to go vegetarian, too.” So, I went vegetarian, and it took me a while to cut out the dairy, but eventually I committed to a fully vegan lifestyle. I think I had, and many people have, an addiction or love or tradition around animal products, and it’s very hard to break.
VN: Street art is a unique way to convey messages. In our world of global interconnectedness and immediate communication, what are the benefits of physically spreading this vegan message?
CLF: It’s more like an experiment. I don’t like to impose my point of views, but when something is right, I like to say what is right to do. So, if you do the wrong thing, it’s important for people to know, and you feel eventually that it’s a duty to express. When you go public, it’s like an immediate effect, and I think people know deep inside what’s right. It’s like when you see a picture of something versus when you go and experience something. The experience is important, and I like also to inspire … you can do it, too. Make it fun, make it like magic. You can change the world with small things.
VN: But how do you know that it is effectively spreading the vegan message?
CLF: I think you know when something is good, but you still get that feedback from the people who are interested, and sometimes you like it better. It’s important to me to listen and perfect.
VN: Now you are beginning Vegan Club Warriors. How is this new perspective different than before?
CLF: Normally, I feature celebrities, but now I am trying to influence from the bottom up to use the niche we have. The celebrities are accessible and sometimes too easily dismissed, so featuring these people who work more behind the scenes or who aren’t known specifically for entertainment creates conversation. People will ask, “Who is on your shirt?” and you will be able to tell them instead of simply seeing a celebrity. It will spark a conversation about veganism and the work these people do. We all have to come together to make change. The Warriors are Shaun Monson, Amy Davis, Leilani Münter, Dominick Thompson, Rich Roll, Marc Ching, and James Aspey.
Jarod Contreras is an 18-year-old vegan ultrarunner who recently completed his first 100-mile race, and founder/host of the Touching the Trail Podcast and Touching the Trail website.
Photo courtesy of Jarod Contreras