François Aubret – Coloful Minimalism
François Aubret is a French photographer based in Los Angeles.
His minimalist and colorful picture attracted us. He has been featured already in some of our Instagram curations. We decided to know more about who is behind the camera by interviewing François.
Interview by Adrien & Jules –
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Nantes (France) and that’s also where I grew up. It is a mid-size city with an amazing art program. Every summer, the whole city sees art installations and exhibitions popping up everywhere. It is a canvas for artists, architects and designers to explore what living in a city means. I’ve always loved this quirky and innovative vibe in the city that has chosen art and design as one of the main industry and tourist attraction. Have you ever seen people ridding this large mechanical wooden elephant around? That’s Nantes!
Why did you choose Los Angeles?
This is where my partner is from. We met in Shanghai, where I was working as a designer. After 3 years living together there, we decided to move back to LA. I was sold on LA very easily. Unlike Shanghai or France it is sunny and warm pretty much all year round. Colors are very vibrant and palm trees are everywhere. It was like seeing life in color again! That is what triggered my interest in photography. My senses were constantly boiling and I wanted to capture what I was seeing.
Why did you choose the photographic media to express yourself?
I am not a very manual person so photography became very natural right away as I felt like my creativity was being supported by a piece of technology. Plus, I have always been a passionate observer so photography felt like the perfect medium to capture life around me. Even if
most of my photographs are abstracted, there is always a sense of reality coming out of it. This contrast of fantasy and certainty is quite whimsical to me, and sometimes unsettling. That’s what I love about using a camera.
Your pictures are very graphic, Are you close to graphic design ?
I am indeed. I used to be an environmental designer and worked on a lot of museums, exhibitions and experience projects. My designs have been usually highly graphic. I noticed that playing with geometry and patterns instantly makes a space look cohesive and adds this emotional factor on the visitor. It is funny because even today I often feel more of a graphic designer than a photographer.
What about your first success? How did it all start?
I think my first success in photography was when one of my photos got reposted on Minimalzine: one of my favorite instagram account for photography. I changed my whole career trajectory by myself, from design to photography, and to see my work being recognized definitely gave me confidence to keep pushing.
We notice in your work the importance of intense color. Is it important for you?
I often ask myself that too. When I look at myself, I never wear any color. I am more a black and white kind of person. And my house is the same, with pops of colors here and there. So I think what matters to me is more a strong contrast and a dynamic composition. Intense colors are only a component of that but it is not an absolute must. Because of the weather, colors are hard to avoid here in LA but I have had some fun this summer in France shooting during overcast days. The compositions are just as dynamic, but colors are muted and that was a nice discovery. I feel like I expanded my vision and it gave me room to explore and grow.
Which artists inspired you ?
I have so many artists that inspire me. Some of the most recent that I added to my list are Felice Varini or Georges Rousse. I love their ability to turn a banal space into a magical work of art. I am also a big fan of Ewa Doroszenko’s photo manipulations and Luke Stephenson’s bird series. All of these are different examples of how graphic art can be and that constantly nourishes my own work. How do you find your subject? Wherever I go I explore cities one neighborhood at a time. I walk around them and observe a lot to find compelling photographs. Usually the neighborhoods right outside the very central downtown area work best for me. It is not as dense and busy but still very urban which is great for me to focus and reach a good creative momentum.
Between France and Los Angeles what is your favorite location?
I like both for different reasons. In terms of lifestyle, what one lacks, the other one has it so I am just trying to balance my time between one and the other. In terms of photography, Los Angeles is a fairly new city, the buildings are quite new and the weather conditions are ideal which makes it is easier to do minimal photography. French cities are a lot more dense and doing minimal photography is a lot more difficult but it is a great challenge that I miss. Finding compelling shots in France is much more rewarding because it is harder too. I like the moody vibe that I can capture in France.
Do you have something to tell us more about François Aubret’s photography?
Practicing photography changed the way I look at my own daily life. It made me realize it is all about perspective and you are the one in control of that. Capturing these wonderful and funny scenes turned me into an optimistic person, and I hope it spreads to you too. Thank you for this interview and your interest in my work!
Courtesy of the artist – 2018