Congratulations on organising and curating the recent ‘Savage’ exhibition at Art by Friends gallery in Annecy. What started the idea for the group show? Thanks a lot! I really love creative group dynamics, as I always learned a lot from it. I moved to Annecy - a little city in the Middle-East of France - in 2012, without any clue about the creative world in there.So I wanted to mimic the experience I made in larger cities where I lived in. Meeting stimulating creative minds and bring them together. I made the first exhibition in 2013 with 10 local artists, which brought around 250 people at the opening night. That was a positive signal to grow it bigger and better. The 2014th edition (Savage) took place in a larger Gallery called “Art by Friends”, bringing 14 local & 14 international artists together. Half local, half international. That was also a great accomplishment because we had around 400 people coming for the opening exhibition.
Any reason behind the wood theme of the show? We came up with an stimulating idea during the brainstorming made for the first exhibition. The deal was to have a Theme and a constraint that we wanted first to keep between us. The constraint for the first exhibition was a tough color. This time, we decided to go for a texture that was wood. It’s great to see how artists have understood and worked with this restriction. It turned out to be a real driving force for creativity.
Have you got any similar plans for near future? I want to organise and curate this kind of exhibition every year. I’ll try to build up another kind of event based on talks or collaborations. I really love to go real these days, outside from the digital world. The more I grow up, the more physical and tangible I want to become. Acting local and thinking global, that’s the way I’m on now.
Now, let’s talk about your beginnings. You are a man of many talents, when did you make your first creative steps? Oh thanks! I wouldn’t say many talents, I’m curious about everything I come across.I’ve had the chance to be raised by parents who trained my imagination. Than, a little computer Commodore 64 came in my life and changed it forever. I was able to draw pixels on a 320.200 resolution, with 16 different colors, what a revolution for a 6 years-old lad. I wanted to work in this field ever since.The second breakpoint came ten years later, when I discovered the mystic network “Internet”, which was still not mainstream at the time. I took the steps of densifying my visual knowledge by studying fine arts and media theory.
Aged 19 I became a freelancer and built my first website featuring some 3D abstract works, I am sure you certainly remember that good old time. Since then I consider myself as a digital artist even if I like to mix real stuff with digital design.
Aged 28 - when I moved to Berlin - came the time for me to experiment with photography & video, encouraged by some local heroes. I also had/have the luck to meet real fervent, talented and motivating people, who brought me a lot of fresh air, new views, other ways to craft. Now I tend to produce a lot by myself, finding a way to understand and deal with the things I like. Trying to concentrate the little bit of what I know into what I do. Yet, there’s so much substance to learn out there!
What is an early piece of creative advice you were given that you still use today? Interesting question. I often share those technical key-points with my students. a) Everything in nature is based on Rhythm. Decrypting this pace gives the key to understand its beauty. b) Golden Section and Rule of the Third are solid anchors in creativity. c) Producing is central. Produce as much as you can. The more you do, the better you become.
And the adviced you would give today? Now when it comes to what I’ve learned in my career so far to accept to reconsider yourself every time you do something. That talent is usually coupled with work, knowledge, output, encounters and passion. To focus on great Human values (empathy, joy, compassion, sharing knowledge…) and deal with ego, your worst enemy. To ignore the haters or stuff you don’t like. If you have your minutes of fame, don’t over-estimate it and try to keep honest. If you have not, work the hell out of you and try to find your own way of expressing yourself.
And never forget that someone who gave you a chance. Give a chance to people who are asking for it.
Who were your creative heroes at the start of your career and how has the view changed since? Remember the days when we both worked in digital illustration with the Digital-Abstracts gurus? Three oh, vir2l guys, Metalheart, Chapter3… I was highly inspired by those people. James Widegren, Jens Karlsson, Tom Muller, Bradley Grosh, Jonas Strandberg Ringh, Anthony Kyriazis, Per Gustafsson, Joost Korngold, Nathan Flood just to name a few. All the people you could find back in the Digital Vision (Gettyimages) imagery named “INFINITY” back in 1999.
Above all, I was admiring the creative duo Michael Young and Michael Cina. The well known WeWorkForThem team. They were – and are still, even if they split – extremely inspiring. Trying to enter this circle of people was a huge challenge. Every piece of work that came out was a pleasure for the eyes, and you had to be talented and above all: involved in the community. Sharing, respecting each other, being a family was key at the time. We were all editors / writers or curators of digital-creativity driven online communities. Computerlove, k10k, pixelsurgeon, Lounge72. A lot has disappeared 17 years after, but all the people I mentioned earlier are still doing amazing things. Most of them have stepped back, they don’t need to prove their talent or search for notoriety anymore. But you can still feel them, infusing creative air in amazing projects. I’m pretty confident in the fact that passionate people will always succeed. That’s what I tend to do today. Stepping back, sharing what I know, empowering people as decent as I can.
Your body of work features a lot of ‘people photography’ . What do you love about shooting people? Human being is the most beautiful entity, but also the most complex on this planet. We are such small things with such a colossal status! Photographing individuals give me the opportunity to decrypt them, to grab their soul and show it on pictures. I like it when someone gives me his intimacy, this can’t be faked or played. It’s pure honesty. In a world where everything is evolving, updated, endlessly improved, it’s a magical moment to bring a fixed moment in time on a picture.
You say you're always in the process of learning. What mistakes have you made in the past that you have learnt from? I made a lot of mistakes in my life. In fact, my biggest one was to avoid them at all price for a long time. Being trapped in a comfort zone is the best way to lose desire. Discovering and going further is an adventure that entails risks. And risk is fuel. Motivation and interest are deeply linked to passion. Someone passionate will always try to do, craft, understand and evolve. Now I’ve fully accepted that it is all linked to making mistakes and reaching some uncomfortable situations. All those situations brought me further, I would do them again if I had to.
You colour palettes are unpredictable. How do you view use of colours in your work? My colour palette is abstract and genuinely linked to my mood. At my beginnings, a lecturer called me ”under LSD” due to an use and abuse of a neon-based color palette! In fact, my Lysergid Nickname - Lysergid standing for the technical term of LSD - comes from there. You can feel my harder periods by seeing some deeper, more black & white works. Then I brought back color when it went better. Today, I tend to use more natural colors or pastel tones. With the time, my favourite color switched from black to blue and pastel pink.
After living in Paris and Berlin, you’re currently based in Switzerland. Creatively, what places has inspired your work the most? Even if I’m French, I’m a so called “child of the world”. I’m glad having worked in different capitals, including Paris, Berlin, Geneva, London, Hong-Kong. I’m rather proud of it. Dealing with worldwide designers based in various countries is exciting and inspiring. It’s a chance to work with other cultures & visions. Now internet - and the simplicity to travel around the globe - has pushed the boundaries in our work. I don’t really feel the borders between works produced here and there anymore. That said, I mainly love to work with German and Polish talents. I always had great times with them!
You also lecture in design at the University of Strasbourg in France. What makes an interesting lecture? Key point is to be willing to share knowledge! Reveal the tricks, the techniques, the secrets. This can only be done if you’re generous. I usually try to keep half theoretical / half practical. You also have to let the students search and discover by themselves.
How important are personal projects for you? Do you get creative satisfaction when working on commercials projects? What client project did you have the most fun working on? Personal projects are like fresh air, a way to take some breath. I’m convinced that it has to be a great part of a creative life. I also work on an 80% basis as a professional (online brand experience, illustration, print & stationary) taking the other part for personal emancipation. As far as commercial work is concerned, I had some luck with two or three projects. We had better times years ago, when flash technology allowed us to build complete brand Experience and Environments. I cross my fingers to see it come back again with the evolution of technology.
How much importance on the message do you feel your personal work needs to have? I want my works to avoid showing direct messages, because I prefer it abstract than concrete. Abstraction forces people to investigate and interpret with their own cleverness. I love the idea that individuals are facing their own intellect. So I tend to inject ideas that can be discovered within a second analysis: you will always discover meanings and hidden signs when you look at my works.
Do you have a favourite piece of work from your portfolio are you most proud of? I think I will never feel somewhat proud for things I’ve done. I do something, try to make it as good as I can, and go to something new. I feel ok with what I did for other people so far. I feel more rejuvenated when my work serves something or someone!
Where do you see your style evolving in the next few years? I do not really know where my style is going to develop; I just want it to progress!