Who Arted? | The Minimalist Wave
French graphic artist Alain Bourdon on hating dolphins, drawing women in a post #metoo era, and why he ties knots in his leash on purpose
I'll level with you here, surf world. Surf art is one of my least favourite things in the whole world, while Instagram... well that's much much worse.
Combine the two and it sounds like a recipe for wrongness. So imagine my surprise when, one day recently, scrolling the 'gram (for work, obvs, wasn't enjoying it) I stumbled across French illustrator Alain Bourdon's Minimalist Wave oeuvre.
How did you come to drawing minimalist wavescapes?
It started when I was on the phone with clients, doodling on a post-it ... Then I looked at the drawings and thought 'These aren't too bad', so I made a notebook out of them that I left on a shelf. My friend Damien (Marly of Chipiron Surfboards fame) saw the notebook and said "You should do something with this..." So I started my Instagram. Now, when I'm doing these drawings it's become a kind of immersive me time, once I've picked up the pen everything else is on hold until I finish my drawing.
As a means of artists getting their stuff out, that might be one of the very few/only non-nauseating things to do with IG. Everything else seems like self-aggrandising, narcissistic, humblebrags. Would you be willing to have IG uninvented, you have no followers and be as yet 'undiscovered' in order for me not to have to look at photos of peoples' brunch/workouts/aeroplane wings? I'd take that deal...
I believe that technology is neither good nor bad. It's how we use it that counts. A knife can be used to operate on a tumor to save a life, or to kill. I discovered IG a few months ago and I try to take it for what it's worth. It's a bit of a paradox that because what works or what is popular is not necessarily what we like. But like anything, if you have good intentions, use it in the right way, you make a bit of splash, you can find out about other cool stuff out there, without losing yourself spending all your time staring at your phone and farming likes.
"I hate dolphins. I think that's what saved me in this business"
'Surf art' might be one of the more regrettable genres... there's almost nothing worse in the world than airbrushed dolphins/perfect lineups. How do you avoid turning into that?
I hate dolphins. I think that's what saved me in this business. And because I try to be honest in drawing a wave, I've not yet seen a mermaid at sunset on a white horse. But if it that happens, I'll draw it, for sure.
It's post #metoo, attitudes to women are changing. You still ok with having muses? Not inspired to have dudes staring at waves instead? Is the attractive thin woman as muse still viable in the 21st century?
You're right, it's a legitimate question. I'm more comfortable drawing women for two reasons: I find them easier to draw and when I do men, it's often a self-portrait man and that annoys me. I observe women more than I do men in terms of their attitudes, their way of being, probably because of my sexual orientation too. To answer the purely sexist topic, I also try not to sexualise the positions, and reveal an attitude. But recently, I draw more and more guys because artistically, I'm also a little tired of feminine forms.
Do you have an artistic temperament? I mean like, get angry easy, go in dark, moody places in your head in order to get creative?
I'm happy to be where I am, with the people around me and trying to cut off my displeasure to the fullest. It's a daily job. No matter what state I am in, my drawings will be an expression of that feeling. But I don't need to drink absinthe listening to Chopin, in order to be inspired.
So what do you listen to?
I've realised that music definitely sets the tone for what I draw. If I listened to chamber music like Philip Glass, my stuff tends to be more refined. At the other end of the spectrum, I did a drawing while listening to the French rapper Rémy, and it was more aggressive. But the music is also conditioned by the mood, the time of the day. Pink Floyd is always a good option.
Ever find yourself in the water and get an idea for a piece? Wake up in the middle of the night?
It's always an opportunity to be at the line-up and to observe how a wave unfolds and therefore a good source of inspiration. It happens to have an inspiration in the water but have nothing to hold it and have no memory. So I make a knot to my leach or roll up my sleeve. Yesterday, I was in the water with the pieces of wood from the storm and I wanted to draw that, so I re-set my watch to make me remember it. For flashes of inspiration, they never come at night. I'm asleep.
(Liking Who Arted? Well then check out Pentagram Pizza's Digital Skid Mark)