Take a look at a site symbolising courage in the former Czechoslovakia prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. In the run-up to 1989, people would leave messages full of their longing for peace and freedom as a tribute to John Lennon, despite the then Communist regime’s best efforts to stamp out such rhetoric.

To this day, the Lennon Wall in Prague remains a place where anyone is free to express themselves. All they need is courage. In this video, two people who have mustered the courage to step into the unknown meet at the Lennon Wall. They are joined by the new ŠKODA SCALA in unique camouflage.

The SCALA is the ŠKODA brand’s own courageous step forward, aspiring to set new standards in technology, safety and design for the C-segment.

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But back to the video’s main heroes:
read our interviews with Chemis and Dave Krugman

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What’s the meaning behind the symbol of the hand you rendered on the Lennon Wall?
It represents the fight for freedom of expression. The grey hands are trying to stop the hand with the pen and to take the pen away because the hand is the desire for freedom and the pen is the means to attain that. Just as I have a spray can and an idea in my head. You can’t suppress the idea as easily as the means used to express it.

How difficult was this graffiti?
It was challenging, but fortunately I had enough time to achieve the quality I wanted.

You were working in a busy place. Are you accustomed to people watching you as you work?
It’s entirely normal for me. You’ll often find me at various street art festivals, where people are watching me, chatting to me and taking photos with me. People are intrigued and want to communicate with the artist.

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You are best known for your 3D graffiti. How difficult is it to do things close up so that they look good at a distance?
It’s difficult. A lot depends on how big the painting is. The most important part is the basic sketch on the wall. If the sketch is done well, the rest is really just colouring-in for me. The first stage in the process, getting those lines on the wall, is the trickiest part. I have done pieces that have made me tear my hair out, they were so complicated. But you can’t expect success unless you work hard.

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Chemis
street artist from Prague

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When you think of the words “courage” and “graffiti”, do any memories spring to mind?
Sure, when you first start doing it. Those moments when you grab a spray can and set off to do your first job. That certainly takes courage, especially if you’re only sixteen or so. I think this is the most palpable feeling in the beginning, definitely.

Is there anything courageous about what you are doing today?
I encounter things that are new and different every time, and some can be quite difficult to pull off. But I always try to get them done. I want to move forward, prove myself, push myself. That is probably the closest to courage I can get. And, of course, making a living out of this is courageous. Now, obviously, I’m starting to establish myself, but the beginnings were hard. My family said that I wouldn’t make a career out of it, but the point is that I’m pursuing my own goal.

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When did you actually decide you would make a living out of graffiti painting?
It wasn’t a snap decision, more of a process. To be honest, I didn’t know what else I would like to do, but I always enjoyed painting. I told myself that I’d maybe like to make a career out of this one day. I did try my hand at a normal job, but I found out it wasn’t for me. When I graduated from college at the age of 24, I had to decide what to do next. At the same time, the quality of my work was improving – we are always learning, me too, improving myself, trying out new techniques and procedures. So I kept on painting until I got to the stage where I could earn enough from it to live on. What I love most about it is the fact that I’m not stuck in one place doing the same thing over and over again.

Have you ever regretted this courageous step?
A few years back I did wonder a little if it had been a good idea. But that was mainly because of personal matters – there was no one with whom I could share what was going on. Now, with hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything, from the very beginning, has made me who I am. I certainly wouldn’t change that.

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Do you remember when you took your first photographs?
When I was 9 or 10, I went to a summer camp, where I took a photography course and we were shooting on black-and-white film. I remember the dark room. There was just a red light, and it was very quiet, with all these chemicals around. We put the paper in the developer and silver crystals started to come off the paper and this image slowly emerged. It’s the closest thing to magic I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t believe it as a kid. I think I’ve always been chasing that same moment of magic, even though, today, you can just press a button and have a photo instantaneously develop.

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So you started with old-school photography using film, but digital photography has easily come out on top now. What’s better, the classical way or the digital way?
I don’t think there’s a “better” way to make photos. Any way you can make photos is valid, and each has its own risks and rewards. Personally, I stick more to digital, but then for my own passion projects I will use film a lot because I like that old process and those old colours. So I love both ways; I couldn’t choose between them. For my commercial work, however, I use digital much more because I find it to be a lot more reliable. Very little of my work these days is with print. Everything lives online, so it’s good to have the data already converted to digital files.

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Dave Krugman
photographer and influencer
from New York

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Smartphones have transformed the way we look at photography. What do you think?
They are the biggest shift in the history of photography as creative work. When you buy a phone now, by default it comes with a camera. So even people who aren’t making a conscious decision to buy a camera are buying cameras. When you have that level of saturation of a creative tool, there’s a completely new class of creative people rising up. Look at the Lennon Wall here, it’s a great example: every single day, hundreds of people come here and take pictures. Hundreds of people who, ten years ago, would perhaps never take a photograph. This is the future of advertising and the future of content generation.

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Since we’re at the Lennon Wall, how do you like it?
I think this place is very interesting because it’s a symbol of being loud when you’re told to be silent. That’s really an important thing, especially in these times, that we need to do. I think that places where people came to express themselves even at great risk to their personal safety are sacred. It takes a lot of courage to do those things. The appearance of this wall is itself an excellent example of community endeavour. There’s not one person who designed this wall. It’s the amalgamation of everybody who’s walked by with a permanent marker or spray. People from all over the world come here and write on this wall – that’s a global conversation.

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