Private Conversations /Damien Blottiere
Photo and Artwork by DAMIEN BLOTTIERE
Words by CRISTA LEONARD
DAMIEN BLOTTIERE IS AN INTERESTING FIGURE IN THE MODERN FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY SCENE, HE’S SOMEONE WHO HAS ESTABLISHED HIMSELF AS SOMETHING OF A LIBERTINE, A MAN WHO CARES NOT FOR CLASSICAL CONVENTIONS. HIS PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLAGES ARE BOTH ACHINGLY CONTEMPORARY AND YET SEAMLESSLY CLASSIC BECAUSE THEY FREEZE A PRESENT MOMENT IN FASHION INTO A PIECE OF ART. WE HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING DAMIEN IN PARIS, A CITY HE PROUDLY CALLS HOME.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR A SMALL BIOGRAPHY OF YOUR CAREER.
I wanted to be a painter. I’ve been drawing since I was a child but whilst at Art School
I noticed that my talents as a draughtsman or as a painter were limited. I felt unable to express myself properly. The translation from my brain to the result was not satisfactory, so I tried to find another way to work. I switched pens and pencils for scissors and started to cut out images from magazines first, then my own ones.
I studied Art & Fashion at the Parisian art school Duperré. After my graduation, I assisted a fashion stylist for almost 5 great years. We were coordinating fashion for Purple, Libération Style and Mixt(e). At Purple I learnt a lot by following the whole process of how to create a magazine and images; a true learning process. Then I tried to work on my own as a stylist; I did only few stories as a stylist, notably for Dazed & Confused where everything began. Cathy Edwards and Nicola Formichetti who were taking care of fashion for Dazed at that time were the first to trust my instincts as a photographer, allowing me to shoot for the magazine and to be published. It was the perfect way to start to share my work.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAMILY HOME LIKE WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
The most simple, quiet and easy as you can imagine. I’m an only child and I wasn ́t much attracted to other kids, I spent lots of time with adults. My parents had different activities, but something special that I remember is motorbikes and cars racing, and I was following them almost every weekend.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOUR? / HOW DO YOU APPROACH COLOUR IN YOUR WORK?
Navy blue.I rarely work in black and white, colours add an appetizing element, just like with cooking. And it gives me the information necessary for my greed, especially when it comes from skin. It nourishes my carnal appetite. On graphic compositions, it allows me to add depth, following the basic rules of painting, such as playing with complementary colours for example. Also, being nearsighted, I often dream of the composition of an image by focusing on me splashes of colour only. So I don’t lose myself in the details, since I do not see them; and I can focus on the whole. The rest follows.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WANTED TO BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER?
When I was a child, I knew that I intended to do manual and creative work, without knowing exactly what it would be. Going from one dream to another, trying and learning,
I became a photographer, a collage artist.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR DESIGN PROCESS?
I find lines in shapes. My cuts are like the trace of a brush. Or, as a sculptor, I gather different views of the same subject. There is a sensual and carnal aspect of working on collages. I caress the paper, following the contour edges with my fingers before I start to cut. I feel like it’s a very intimate moment. I am also unable to work in groups on a collage. I have to be alone. It's a love story...as soon as the work is completed, I feel gloom descend over me until, that is, I dive into a new passion with the next job.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PIECE AND IF SO, WHICH ONE? WHY?
From me? Not yet. From someone else, too many to name.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR COUNTRY AND CULTURE INFLUENCED YOUR WORK?
I feel very French! Whenever I travel, I'm always happy to be back home, and I think that there is no other place I would live. In France, and Paris in particular, it’s possible to have an access to international culture, you have unlimited access to movies, books and works of artists from all over the world. And from a cultural point of view, France is one of the most open countries in the world. However, it’s an old country that has had its battles a long time ago, and who tends to be in waiting nowadays. For example, I had to wait nearly 10 years before starting to work in France, whereas I've always been there, and they knew my work. I believe that it’s rare to find a Frenchman willing to bet on someone, they prefer to wait and take no risks, hence the lack of initiative in the country. However, education and general culture are of a very high standard and it’s a base to which I am attached, and it is a place that influences me.
HOW HAS YOUR AESTHETIC EVOLVED THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
All of my work is more precise and more assumed, I have evolved past the stage of research, maturity allows me to deal with any form of self-censorship. In the beginning, we try, we’re not sure ...we try to do it well. Through these steps, we define a style, which I think is a necessary right of passage. In my case, it was not easy to hold together the man and the artist but today, the two are one. Doubts persist, but they allow me to move forward and continue, and I now succeed in producing compositions that do not meet any rule, and this is where I am surprised, and almost satisfied.
I feel I now know where I’m going without being able to define it again, and I hope it will last.
WHAT IS YOUR AESTHETIC WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
I would say it’s the opposite to my work, because I make collages and also because I produce “full” images most of the time, people think that I live in a world of collections. I live in a minimalist, almost monastic environment. Mainly white, nothing hanging on the walls. I need it to be clean and clear, also because I work at home, I can not be disturbed by any surroundings so that I can focus on my subject.
In other words, on a collage I add, at home I remove.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN REAL LIFE ? AND IN A FANTASY WORLD ?
Bodies, in both case. The human body is an everlasting inspiration. It’s a beautiful and intriguing machine connected to emotions, an inexhaustible source of inspiration and fantasy.
WHAT HOBBIES OR INTERESTS DO YOU PARTAKE IN, IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
My work leads me to be connected to lots of cultural events , which I like, but in my spare time, I either like having fun with friends, or to be alone surrounded by nature, like in Iceland where I try to go as often as possible.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER LAID EYES ON IT?
I’m an artist who works for the fashion industry, I take pictures that I cut out, I make collages.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 5 WORDS.
Calm, stubborn, faithful, excessive, solitary.