Illustration, design, photography, film and even music. German artist Damien Elroy Vignaux can do it all and has even set up a mulit-platform creative studio that has lent it’s talents to big brands such as Adidas, Converse, Nivea, Microsoft and Vogue. Damien shares with us this exclusive collage series for Yume Magazine #9 as we chat about his art, photography and new studio.
Hi Damien, nice to meet you! Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment?
Hey guys, over the summer we are setting up a new studio structure with my fiancée Jaq called Maison Vignaux to focus more on our fashion productions in film and photography. We will develop special projects for high-end clients in luxury and street brands in illustration, motion design and film. We are putting a lot of efforts lately in developing the film work since we find it more exciting when we can develop stories and characters on longer projects than fashion editorials. We just recently published a movie we wrote and directed for German designer Tim Labenda as a VOGUE Germany exclusive, and we are preparing two important music video shoots that should be out this August.
We first became aware of your photography through Treats! Magazine but just recently discovered your other artistic side, working in design, illustration, art direction and also film. What came first for you and what inspired you to work in these fields?
Design came first, I started with working as an illustrator and I still do it quite often. I’m represented for Europe and US/Canada and got to meet some very interesting clients this way. I then slowly switched to motion design because I wanted to bring my artworks to life and did a lot of VJing. Photography came last. I was already shooting quite a lot when I was living in France but mostly landscapes, and spending time in the dark room. I like the technical side of things. When I moved to Berlin I got into the fashion thing and this is when Jaq and I actually met. In the end I’d say we are storytellers and what is important is the message in your work, so you can’t get too limited by the use of a medium. Sometimes you need a film to translate an idea, sometimes a picture is enough and sometimes an illustration will give a better impact.
How would you say your experience in these fields contribute to your style?
I have a very layered style, so every new experiment feeds my aesthetics. I think I reached that point where I’m mature enough in the different fields so I can really think about projects that bring together all those aspects: film, collage, a reflection on the human body, architecture, illustration…
I’ve always favored transfers in my creation logic. For me, if you are looking for inspirations to be a better photographer don’t look at what other photographers are doing. You need to see the bigger picture… for example, seek ideas in other mediums.
Can you tell us about this series of photo collages?
I may be going through a phase right now where I consider bodies as architecture, or landscape. Collage is a building process. I like to play with shapes and perspectives and the surreal feeling that happens when shapes that have nothing to do with one an other collide. I’m getting bored with people shooting the same things all the time and I guess we are always trying to find new ways to talk about the very same topics. Collage, and montage in film, have this amazing power to create meaning out of every new combination. And it’s often something that surprises you. You could start from only one picture and produce a hundred of different collages with their own space and dynamic.
What does the woman’s body mean to you and how do you look to represent this in your art?
The human body is beautiful, it’s a topic in itself with endless configurations. When you reach for abstraction and have this body / architecture thing for example, you can hardly dress the body because then you set it in a style, or a time. A type of cloth, a fabric, a color, will tell you too much about what is outside of the frame, when was this shot, why. I prefer to abstract the naked body, and often force it in positions that are not natural. But I’m still a designer and I like to build harmony out of it.
So you and your partner Jacq have a successful creative studio called Maison Vignaux and have worked with brands such as Adidas, Converse and Nivea. What’s the best advice you to any aspiring creatives out there looking to start their own studio?
To keep producing. All the time. First because when you work, you get better every time. And second because no client will ever trust you in realising their idea if they don’t already see in your portfolio that you are capable of doing it. It’s normal, they are scared with their budget and have no space for risk and doubt. You need to show the world what you can achieve and be present on social media and publications as much as you can. The works that you decide to show will define the creative identity people will identify you with. If you want good clients, you need to show carefully curated quality works beforehand. That’s the logic with Maison Vignaux. We’ve been working with so many clients in so many different fields in the past years, that we felt the need to reconnect to our true artistic identity. So we’re gonna kick out probably 80% of all the references we have online in the old websites, and focus on the high quality 20% that we had the biggest pleasure creating. Because that’s what we want to keep doing in the future.
Finally, I hear that you also produce techno music? As a man of many talents, what do you like to do when you are not exploring one of your many creative outlets?
I was doing this OBLAST projects with my friends Miimo and Jas, but they moved back to France. They continue the project on their own and I just give a hand from time to time. Music has never been my strong suit but I was lucky enough to work with talented producers to bring ideas to life. The project is still running, some good releases are coming soon. When Jaq and I are not creating, we often escape to southern France and we go hiking. Nature and travelling are a never-ending source of inspiration.