Lucas Beaufort Talks Skate Culture’s Influence on Fashion and His Latest Film

French artist Lucas Beaufort opens up about skateboarding's influence on fashion and his new film featuring skate legends like Chad Muska.

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Complex Original

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This story is part of an editorial series created in collaboration with ASOS Supports Talent

Visually, French artist Lucas Beaufort’s work appears playful and intrinsically simple. The direct and relatable nature of his illustration is exactly what makes it so infectious to fans, as he’s able to transform images that inspire him into surreal landscapes, rife with pastel colors and mirth. Informed at a young age by anime and skateboard culture, Beaufort describes himself as a fan of the melancholy—something that looms beneath his playful characters. That tension is something many disconnected teens feel before immersing themselves in subcultures like skateboarding, and it informs his distinct visual language.

Through his brand work and traveling “LB Project,” Beaufort’s created a presence and persona in the skate, fashion, and art worlds quickly. For his most recent project with online fashion destination, ASOS, as part of the ASOS Supports Talent initiative, he explored a new tension in his work, rooting the idea in “making art in urban places and making art into the wild, showing the contrast between the craziness and the quietness.”

With a video documentary about the skateboarding media industry titled Devoted in production, along with the ASOS collaboration, Beaufort remains active and engaged, widening his colorful world by the moment. 

Lucas Beaufort Photograph

Growing up what artists first resonated with you and informed your work?
When I was a kid I was really into Japanese anime such as Dragon Ball Z, Kenshiro, and Captain Tsubasa. We had to wait every Wednesday to watch the new episodes. It was a crazy wait but I was so excited. I started to skate around 13-years-old and I remember choosing my first board—an Element—just for the design. I had no clue which brand I was even buying. Back then I loved Alien Workshop graphics—the old ones. Later I was really into Blind and Girl. I think the ‘90s are still in my head. I’m really nostalgic about this period.

Fashion has always taken influence from skating, but now that incubation period is so much faster. Why do you think skating is being cited and borrowed from so much?
Well, I think that we are living a weird period now. Brands are trying their best to follow the trends, but when they start following the trend it’s already the end of it. Skateboarding has always been and will always be the thing—the thing that people want to be a part of, the thing that you want to live.

Lucas Beaufort Photograph

Once upon a time, anyone wearing Vans was a skater. You dressed a certain way to show that you skate. With skate culture becoming mainstream, you see people like Alex Olson and Dylan Rieder (RIP) challenging what a “skate look” can be. How has skating influenced what you actually wear and does it still?
In the‘90s I was wearing baggy pants with big logos on T-Shirts. I feel like at that time, it was easy to recognize you were a skater, but now I feel like the style is really simple and skaters look like everyone. I’m not saying it’s bad, I just like the idea of distinguishing oneself, to be different.

Since we last spoke, you’ve done several collaborationss and projects, including live drawing. What’s your favorite way to work and what are the most rewarding projects?
Indeed, I feel so lucky to collaborate with brands that I love. I’m always looking for exciting projects. I want to challenge myself. I want to do big things. I want to get hurt. I want to feel something.

Painting is good, but doing the same thing everyday can be boring. That’s the reason I need to travel and see different stuff—it’s vital.

Having visited and exhibited in New York, what’s your impression of the city?
New York city is the city! The first time I put my feet in the Big Apple I was five years old. My father invited my brother and I, and it was like an electric shock. When you’re that young everything looks so big, it was another world. Last year I went back to New York for my art project and nothing has changed. Next year I’m planning to stay the entire month of May, so I will have time to experiment more.

Lucas Beaufort ASOS Exhibition

What’s next for the LB Project and your Paris exhibit?
The LB project second edition ended at The Agenda trade show Long Beach in June 2016. Since then, I’ve been traveling the world to work on my video documentary called DEVOTED. It’s a project about skateboard media. I've had the chance to meet legends including Lance Mountain, Chad Muska, Michael Burnett, Marc Johnson, Mike Blabac, Reda, Skin Phillips, and many more.

The teaser and the website are almost ready. The video premiere will be released in L.A in June 2017.

My upcoming Paris exhibition on November 24 is different—it’s more personal. I shot the photos myself and painted on them. Most of the time I paint on another photographer’s images, so for the first time I get to go all in. I can’t wait to see people’s reactions.

View this video on YouTube

Tell us about the project with ASOS and why you felt like you wanted to be a part of it.
I’m a skate rat, but I’m open to the world. I’m open to the people who want to support me and my ideas. I love skateboarding, I need it like I need oxygen, but it’s also interesting to try new things. ASOS gave me the opportunity to realize my project in Europe and I’m super grateful for it. It means something to me because I was free to do anything, they didn’t stop me, they pushed me.

The idea consisted of filming the process of making art in urban places and making art into the wild, showing the contrast between the craziness and the quietness. I traveled to London, Berlin, Stockholm and Helsinki for two weeks. I was so curious to explore everything, it was like having a different approach everyday.

Lucas Beaufort ASOS Show

What’s something that skating exposed you to that you were previously unaware of?
Skateboarding taught me everything, you can say it’s a cliché, but I was really bad at school. Not because I was dumb, but just because it wasn’t for me. I learned how to speak English thanks to skateboarding, I learned how to live on 35 euros for a week while traveling, and I learned how to live with different people.

I even learned how to accept myself, too. I’m still learning and that’s the best part—you always discover something new through skateboarding.

Lastly, who have you met or has contacted you about your art that you would have never expected when you first started?
(Laughs) Good question! I remember the night when Jamie Thomas (ZERO skateboards) called me out of the blue. It was 2:00am in France; I was sleeping and my phone started to ring. I’ve noticed it was a call from the U.S., I said hello and the voice replied, ‘Hey, it’s Jamie Thomas, would you be down to make a board series for ZERO?’

My heart was beating as fast as you can imagine. It was an amazing surprise.

ASOS Supports Talent is a global initiative from online fashion destination ASOS, providing up and coming creative talent with funding, mentoring and support to realize personal passion projects. Find out more here.

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