Rylsee: Everything Works with Geometric Shapes

Cyril Oz (Rylsee) is a Swiss artist currently living in Berlin and working and exhibiting throughout Europe and beyond.  The name Rylsee has its roots in the French hip-hop scene.  When the rappers couldn’t find a word that rhymed, then they would split the word at the syllables, invert it and spell it in a different way.  It’s called “Verlan”, which comes from the French word “L’envert” – which means to invert.


© Heather Schmaedeke

We first met in 2012 at his vernissage at I Draw a Lot in Neukölln, where he had a trade box set up with zines.  Consequently, I acquired my first piece of his work in exchange for one of my photographs.  Recently, I caught up with Ryslee and Andrea Wan in their studio at Urban Spree.

An all-around creative person, Rylsee’s font work has experienced a boom in the last few years.  Some people know him more for his illustration while others associate him more with fonts and lettering.

So, I was curious to know which came first; images or letters.  Rylsee told me that as a kid he played a ‘game’ where he would try to copy logos (graphics and font) from memory.  He would try to remember and replicate everything that he could.  Then later on he switched to illustration; characters and more pictorial things.


© Rylsee

Rylsee has recently switched back to working with text and type, which he did just for himself.  He kept the work he was doing in his sketchbook without sharing it with anyone.  When people started seeing his sketches they really liked what they saw.  One of the things that prompted him to stop doing characters is that people would tell him that the reason they liked his work was because of its comic style.  Even though this was meant it as a compliment, he wasn’t fond of the comparison.  People can now see some of my sketchbook pages that he shares on Instagram –> instagram.com/rylsee  or directly @Rylsee

In college he took graphic design & typography, even though it wasn’t one of his favorite classes.  He was always afraid of making mistakes; choosing the wrong font for example, every decision had to be justified.  You couldn’t ever say that you chose something ‘just because’.  The difference with had lettering is that it can have a never-ending variety of fonts.  No one can say that something was done wrong. It’s more the other way around, when you do illustrations, there’s no wrong/wright way, but with fonts, There are strict rules that must be observed and known. Then you can decide to break them.

Plan Ahead

© Heather Schmaedeke

About a year Rylsee and Otto Baum met each other, Rylsee considers Otto to be the Berlin master of letters.  They hit it off, easily talking for at least a half an hour about how cool an A can be, the variations and what those differences can communicate.  Rylsee first saw Otto’s work on Instagram, liked it and got in touch with him.  Coincidentally, shortly after that, it turns out that Andrea and Otto were each having a vernissage on the same night a few doors down from each other, which is when Rylsee and Otto finally met.  Otto first saw Rylsee’s work at Urban Spree during an open studio, even though Rylsee wasn’t there that evening.  Rylsee was showing a mix of illustration, font composition and signs and Otto really liked his work.

Rylsee and Otto have been offering a hand painted sign workshop for about five months.  It all began with the ‘Ghetto East Side Gallery’project; Rylsee and Otto hanging signs on the metal fence outside in the garden of the Urban Spree.  So many people approached them while they were working on it, asking them if they were offering workshops; that they finally decided that they should do it.

Rylsee has an exhibit at Zimmer, in Tel Aviv, which runs from Feb 6 – 20th; where he’ll also be offering a workshp.


© Rylsee

He’s really good at drawing letters and objects with no visual reference.  “He has an amazing visual memory”, says Andrea. It all comes out of his head.  He remembers how things look and understands how things work – so he can draw them really well after only seeing them one time.  “Everything works with geometric shapes”, he tells me.

Drawing is something that Rylsee finds to be so much fun, he always has his sketchbook with him.  His inspiration comes from his daily life – for example, he’ll think about something that sounds funny or see something he finds interesting, something that catches his eye and it gets written down to be worked on later.  Whatever Rylsee does, it should be fun, that’s the beginning of most of things that he does.

Website: http://www.rylsee.ch
Instagram: http://instagram.com/rylsee
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjzSxut7c8c
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/206900219516182/

Upcoming Exhibits:

2weeks residency in LA ROCHELLE (France) with mural painting and a group show at the end while the festival is on.
It’s called SPRINGTIME DELIGHTS – street & board culture Festival

Group show in Geneva @ Genev’art space.
among other artist like L’ATLAS


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