Nils grew up in Southwestern France, his childhood surrounded with surfing and skating. Visual and creative arts came naturally to him, a good thing since formal education wasn’t his cup of tea.
For the last few years, he’s been painting, drawing, sculpting, cutting, assembling, coloring and displaying, honing his style, skating and advocating for colors. Here are some insights on this brilliant young man, full of ideas and projects, with a bright future ahead.
* When did you first start drawing? And what kept you going?
I kind of grew up drawing, my dad would use up all of his pencils on any medium he could get his hands on, back when I couldn’t even walk yet! So, I’ve always doodled, colored, drawn… by myself or with friends. And one day, I tried a canvass, and then I tried another one… My parents supported me all the way through, and the rest was history!
* You skate and surf, how does that influence your drawing?
I skate more than I surf, probably because my dad still surfs almost every day (there might be a bit of a paternal figure rebellion going on). I don’t think I would have been able to become who I am today if I hadn’t benefitted from what those two disciplines have to offer. MORE than just an influence, they are the backbone of my work.
At first, I was told my pieces were too skate-focused, that I put in too many skate-related items and that they weren’t oriented towards the general public enough. But eventually, despite the skate-boards, my drawings were well received by a very heterogeneous public. My first buyers didn’t fit the profile, or the age, of skate-enthusiasts, but they obviously liked what they saw.
Today, my work is still very much influenced by skate-boarding, but I’ve been trying to universalize it more. Right now, I’m working on a specific theme: the city as a skate spot. I don’t necessarily draw skate-boards, but I inevitably come back to the basics: skate-boarding.
* When did you decide to make a living of it? How does one make such a decision?
I don’t feel as if I’d chosen my path, but rather that it chose me. I’m not really good at making decisions… although I’ll admit that a stint as a busboy in a restaurant profoundly motivated me to do something about my life. I’ve settled a bit, because of the crisis and because my ankles are shot from skating, and it’s given me time to spend on my second passion.
In the end, hard work always pays off, and my business was able to take off and I was able to formalize things. That said, I don’t know if I’ll be an artist my whole life. For a long time, I hesitated between becoming a cat trainer and a professional cup-and-ball player!
In reality, I prefer it when my work responds to opportunities and encounters, when I can try and test things that will help me evolve and learn new techniques. Although I do have a strong visual identity, I try to allow it to evolve constantly. I don’t feel trapped by a specific artistic movement, technique or style; I know that everything evolves, just as I will evolve at my own pace and based on my own experiences.
* Who are your influences, or the things that you like and that inspire you?
A little bit of this and a little bit of that, it can be a child’s drawing, the picture of a skateboard, emerging artists, or high caliber artists like Basquiat and Keith Haring. I’m inspired by what I discover. Picasso’s Guernica fascinated me, I’ve reproduced it so many times and in so many ways. I’ve been dumbfounded by the work of Os Gêmeos and Dave Kinsey.
Some people think that being inspired by something/someone means copying them. I think that’s a hypocritical way of seeing things. Even a trashcan can inspire someone. It is impossible to create in seclusion, deprived of passion and needs… I need to see a ton of images before I can find mine, that’s how it works.
* Can you tell us about customizing surfboards, and more about the Fukushima board that you made?
Surfboards have a smooth surface that is great to draw on, and it’s bigger than a skateboard. I have a soft spot for hollowed wooden boards, probably because they remind me of skateboards, but also because I have experience working with a wooden-board craftsman, who happened to be my workshop neighbor (I do like taking the easy road!)
The Fukushima board is a bit different. My girlfriend has always loved Japan, and I found out that the Japanese surf just like they do anything else, in other words, zealously! When the nuclear catastrophe happened, numerous articles were published on the subject and one of them talked about spot surfers.
This tragedy affected me and I wanted to do something for the victims, so I conceived a board to be auctioned off through Surf Session magazine. It wasn’t much, but my heart was in it.
* Music is a common thread in your pictures, is music important to you?
Definitely more than that. Not only do I need sounds, I need a whole set up that will give me the creative atmosphere I need. My cat, some music, books, the computer within reach – you never know – the TV…. I go through an adjustment phase that can last a while, depending on what’s going on on TV, but once I start, I’m unstoppable.
Like every respectable skater, I spend quite some time looking for the soundtrack of skate videos that I like! So I’m actually listening to music all day long!
* You’ve worked with Seb Daurel before [editor’s note: renown skater from Bordeaux, musician as well], do you have plans on working with him again?
We have loads of projects we’d like to do, but it’s hard to find the time and opportunity. We did 2 exhibitions back to back, one in Bordeaux at the Riot skate shop, and one in Paris at Auguste’s. It was a great experience, but unfortunately we haven’t had time to continue our little artistic joyride.
Seb now works for the Darwin Hangar [translator’s note: an eco-friendly indoor skatepark], a type of eco-cultural epicenter that is starting up in Bordeaux, a project that is close to his heart!
As for me, the displays and various productions have kept me too busy to think of anything else. But, you never know what the future holds. And actually, the last episode of Rue Brique (a monthly web-series written for the skate magazine, Sugar) is about him.
* What are your last pieces of work to date, and any future projects?
Right now, I have quite a few painting orders, and my summer schedule is already full with events that I’m taking part in. To name a few: A Day Without TV in the Landes, on June 30, the BIG festival in Biarritz from July 19 to July 22, and POSCA’s customizations in Anglet.
I’m also working on a mini web-series called Rue Brique, a bizarre project for which I write a skater’s motto every month that I illustrate; Sugar magazine publishes it in its edition. The web-series explains the illustration image by image, and I dub the episode myself! Let’s just say that the result is…unexpected!
With a pinch of skating history and a few rolling crazies (inspired by real people), you’re presented with the evolution and the main characteristics of the skater man, from the 70s to today. I’m working on the next episode and need to get back to it, so I bid you farewell and wish you a good day!