NOTHING BUT COWS
by Mariano Giménez & Juan Cruz Molas y Molas
Lucas is a sensory overloaded person, who has the mission to spread love all around the globe. He is living a simple and beautiful life in french countryside, and you know, talking with him feels like that, like going to the countryside with your friends, drink wine, eat cheese, explore nature and feel that everything is possible, and you know... maybe it is. Cause when I look into Lucas’s art it feels like a world without wars, misery and fear is possible, and it’s not only his art, is his whole way of seeing the world. We need more people like that to remind us that in the end love is all we need.
Lucas Beaufort exclusively with SUBTERRANEO.
Where are you now?
I am in Normandy, which is an hour from Paris. Countryside, nothing but cows. Quiet, very nice for the spirit.
Never been to Argentina. Córdoba. Sounds so wild for me. Sounds very epic. I have some friends from Snowboarding. They go to Argentina to do that, for sure.
At SUBTERRANEO we believe in this collaboration principle, we usually work with different artists, musicians, photographers, and we see that thing very reflected in your art. What is that thing that leads you to collaborate with so many different photographers and artists, and could you tell us something about your creative process?
The main thing in my life is to explore, man. Is to explore inside myself and it’s also to explore what is inside your head. Last year, for example, I travelled so much, that I think in one year I did what I think a human is supposed to do in one life. And, you know why I do that? I do that because I’m aware that one day I’ll be dead, man. One day I won't be here with you, talking with you and I wanna leave as much as I can. I wanna go to Argentina and I will, I wanna go to Chile and I will. It’s so big, I’ve been in so many places but still a lot to do. I think you need, maybe, five lives if you wanna visit everything in this world.
So, why do I collaborate with people? It is because I love people, that simple, you know? I mean, I don’t create for myself. I create stuff to build bridges between people, that’s the main thing.
I don’t care who is in front of me but I do care just being myself and to me is like, the process of creativity is just to let my heart speak for myself.
Everything should be so simple, I’m talking right now with many people to build new projects and people are like, wow, with you it is very simple. Because it has to be very simple, man, if it takes like difficulties, if it takes time to build projects is because people are crazy. I’m crazy too, but to me it's like, you don’t need to complicate it and to make it difficult. If you have a conversation with somebody and you send an email, just respond to it, the same day, don’t waste our time. And we know how it is, sometimes we try to connect with people and it takes like six months just to have an answer and I hate that because I don’t wanna waste my time and I don’t wanna waste your time to. So, everything is different, everything is simple, and everything has to be special with everyone, every character I work with.
So, the process is very different all the time but my goal is to create connection and also to make it easy, you know? I want it to be easy. That’s very important. And because of my age, I’m 39 now, I feel I have the experience and I know what I want and I want it simple.
Snowboarding in winter, forests in summer. What was it like to grow up in that environment and how this context also affected your art?
I grew up in the city, in Cannes, the french riviera, it’s a small city actually and its near the sea, I was like, five minutes walking from the beach and then an hour by car to go snowboarding. So, I think I was very lucky to live in this environment.
I was surrounded by this, and by the mountain, and the nature, and the funny thing is when I was young, and I think is the same for every kid, you wanna be in big cities, you wanna play video games, and my mom, she was like, trying to get me in the forest, and I was like… no, mom! I wanna stay in the city, I wanna go skate. And actually now I’m getting older and one of my biggest influences is to go hiking, grabbing flowers in the mountain, getting stuff that is free, getting stuff that is around you and you don’t have to pay for it, you just have beauty around you and it gives you so much that you don’t need anything else.
As soon as you are in the big city you get so distracted by what exists around you, you have to pay all the time and I don’t care about paying, it’s part of the life, you always have lights telling you… buy this! buy this! buy this! I really prefer the nature now and how it affects my art, it’s so obvious now, if you look at my art, you see my character, his name is Gus Gus, is always travelling around nature, always in the desert, always in the forest, always in the mountain, always holding a flower, as a message to say: I love our planet.
Well, we have a question about Gus Gus, and the characters you make. Your characters seem to integrate perfectly with the environment where they are, be it a snowy mountain or a staircase in any city; It seems that they are here to help or accompany us. Are these characters extensions of you? What values do they represent for you? And who are they?
So, Gus Gus is my friend but at the very beginning he was kind of a monster that you have in your dreams, so he was terrifying me when I was young, and until I started to draw, and I started to draw when I was twentyseven. So, from 2 to 27 I used to wake up in the middle of the night having crazy nightmares and since the day I started to draw… I didn’t expect to get my nightmares gone. It was just, like, Oh! Let’s just draw something! And then, I realized all my nightmares were gone. So, maybe Gus Gus was inside of my head a long time ago but I didn’t know what it was. And it was very cool, actually. It was telling me like, hey man, you should draw because that’s your life. So, who is he? Is an extension of myself, for sure. Look at his face, he has the hat, and I always wear the hat. He holds the flower cause he is a nature guy, and he loves people, you know? He comes to you, giving you the flower and saying I love you. So, he loves to hug, he loves to be surrounded by people, he is a funny guy and I think I’m funny too! I’m always joking with my friends, talking shit about anything. I don’t take things seriously, Gus Gus is a mix of bird and a human, that’s why you see the peak, and I am a bird, you know? That’s very important, that’s the mojo. That’s the philosophy I have in my life.
When I meet people I’m like, why do you persist in something that you don’t like? Because one day you will wake up and you are going to be like, 80, and it’s gonna be almost the time for you to go and you are gonna be like… oh, what did I do? I worked 45 years for the same company and I did a shity job.
I think we should be aware of what we love and just go for it, man! Give your love! Give your life! Give your heart! Give everything! And it’s gonna happen! It’s easy to say, but I don’t have rich parents, I don’t have parents inside the art industry, I don’t have people to introduce me to some people, you know? I just did it myself. I took a shove and I dug, man. I worked very hard for it. And now I feel like it's just the very beginning because I’m never satisfied with anything I do. If tomorrow I build a pyramid for example, and then, what’s next? I’m gonna make a double-pyramid! My life is always to make something bigger, to exchange with people, and just to tell people: live the fucking life you wanna live. That’s simple.
Next year, I’m gonna use my bicycle, and travel all around France, and people are like, Oh that’s crazy. That’s not crazy because if you think about it, there are so many people that do that everyday, man. Travelling across the US, travelling across Argentina. For me that's amazing, not using my fucking car, just using my legs, my muscles, and be like… I’m able to go from the north of France and reach the south without putting any money for gas. For the planet as well. It’s a big symbol for me. Gus Gus represents that. He represents all the dreams that you could have and that’s super important. I hope people understand that when they tattoo you or they buy something related to Gus Gus they are part of it, they trust my philosophy and they are the same, they are the same.
So, we talked about Gus Gus, and you have all these other different characters, all these characters are supporting the skaters, cheering up, we really love that attitude in life, so, what can you tell us about all these other friendly characters?
He is the leader of the group, he is the leader of love. And then you have a lot of people that you can see in my art, and they are part of the group, but they are all the same actually. It’s about love, sharing, and to be together. That’s it, unity. I love the word diversity, you know? I love to be different, and I think that’s very awesome. If you want to have your hair that touches your legs, why not? But people always criticize like, oh you have long hair! Or you have no hair! Or, you have a strange mouth! And so what? That’s so fucking cool, I love dwarf people, I love big people, I love hairy people, I think that’s cool, if we were all the same, like blond guy with big muscle it would be so boring, so diversity is a very good word to define myself. Trust me, if I go outside, I always look at people like, Oh wow, this guy has this crazy head! But i’m like, that’s cool, you know?
Do you think art needs a purpose?
I don’t know if I have the answer for that, but I think if you need to create, just to feel good, do you think there is a purpose behind? Sometimes your creativity is like having a piece of paper and start drawing.
I think the most important thing that you have to remember is like, do what you love. And don’t think about numbers, at the end there is always somebody bigger than you. So, it’s not a race about it.
I think it’s very important to have a message, so you talked about the purpose, it’s related to that. My message is a love message, and some artists-they have political messages, which is awesome. I think that’s the goal of art... art should have a message all the time but sometimes the artist doesn’t know how to express it, you know? He is just drawing, he doesn’t even know what he's going to say. But myself, it took time to really understand where I was going and now I know! I want to bring people together.
I have this peace message all the time. And when we see whats going on in the US right now, with the riots, I think that’s amazing and very important what’s happening now in the US, in France we are professionals for it, like riots going down the street and protesting, France may be one the biggest in the world, that’s why we have so many privileges today. Because people have decided to go down the street and protest. In the US, I’ve been there, and I was very surprised that I don’t see lots of protests, or a lot of people going outside. And now, with what's going on today, that's amazing! And it’s not only with the justice with the black community, everything has to be remold. Social care, medicine, it’s fucked up in the US, and at the same time you can say, (North)America is amazing specially for the environment, the diversity that exists there man, I’ve been in Colorado, California, everywhere. It’s so incredible! The beauty of the country is amazing.
So, a lot of stuff has to change, and it’s not only racism, it’s everything. A lot of problems exist around the world. Coronavirus, if we talk about it, is changing many things too, you know? I hope the world is getting better, it’s gonna get better soon. It’s gonna be a long battle, but I think now we are going in a good way. I hope so.
"I think if you need to create, just to feel good, do you think there is a purpose behind? Sometimes your creativity is like having a piece of paper and start drawing".
- Lucas Beaufort.
But going back, talking about how to connect with people, we really like that, to connect, there is a quote about Keith Haring, he stated that "Art is for everyone", we see this philosophy reflected in your work. How do you make your art reach as many people as possible?
Do you know how many people have a tattoo of mine on their body? It’s over a thousand now! I don’t understand, man! I think it is crazy! You can buy a piece of art and if one day you want to give it to somebody because it doesn’t speak to you anymore you will do that, or you will sell it. But the tatoo, it’s something that’s gonna be with you for your whole life, so when I see that I feel good with myself because people understand where I’m going with my character. So, if you see a thousand people getting my character on their body it means that they understand that I spread love. And why do I reach so many people today? Is because what we need is fucking love, man. You know who said that? All you need is love. And it sounds cheesy but I don’t care! All you need is love! That’s it! And you can say whatever you want, love solved problems and can save the world. Art is a good way to save the world, but love is the biggest tool to save the world.
We also see a visual component, an aesthetic line that reminds us of the work of Keith Haring, Mark Gonzales, Thomas Campbell, among other artists, where some patterns, figures and characters are repeated. Could you tell us about your aesthetic influences?
So, do you know Fernand Leger? He is not with us any more. He is more from the generation of Pablo Picasso. He is a big influence, Picasso is an influence too. I love them, I love Matisse as well, to talk about a few. Keith Haring is amazing, he is a big influence and I think the first artist that attracted me so much. When I was 6 years old I was in New York with my dad and Keith was still alive, my dad was wearing a t-shirt with his art and I was like, hey dad, what is it about? And he told me that he was an artist from New York, that his name was Keith Haring and I was just 6, you know? And it was amazing (the art) because it was a guy with four legs, long arms, and I knew, it talked to me, it spoke to me. After that, I didn’t want to paint, I was just like, Oh! I love it!
20 years later, I did my first drawing but I didn’t think about Keith, I forgot about him. But then, when I looked at my art, I felt he was inside my head, like he stayed in my head. I wish I could be with him just to know the guy because he is a legend, one of the greatest.
And if you want to talk about alive artists, there are so many; I love, for example, this artist from Philadelphia, Henry Jones, he is always drawing with skaters, making fun of them.
At Subterráneo we believe that printed art is invaluable for everyone, but unfortunately more and more magazines die, or stop printing. We saw that you recently made on this subject the documentary ‘Devoted’. Why do you think it is so important to print? And where do you think this is all going?
Man, is a good question. I think Chad Muska had a good answer for it during the documentary, because, think about it, I filmed ‘Devoted’ in 2016, I released it summer 2017. Four years ago, now is different. I think print is still very important, is so fucking important. Because, honestly, what do you do with your iphone? I take photos with it, I post them on instagram, I make stories, but then, a day later you don’t give a shit about that, you know? So, I think on my phone I have 20000 photos, and I never look back at them. I never look at my photos from 2018, 2017, not because I don’t care, it is because it’s on my phone, it’s digital. I feel if it’s not tangible you don’t look at it anymore.
Have you heard about ‘Place Magazine’ from Germany? Skateboard magazine. The new issue looks like a manga. So, those guys, Place Magazine, they are incredible because every single issue they come with something special and for this one they decided to come up with something like a comic book and it’s something I wanna keep because it’s very special.
I love about print it’s when it’s precious, you know? What’s the point of coming up with a magazine every month and to always do the same thing like one interview, one profile, one checkout? I think it has to be different, it has to be something you will collect. So, my feeling is, print less but better.
I worked for like, 8 years for a magazine, you know? Before living my life as an artist. Have you heard about ‘desillusion’ magazine? I worked with the magazine for 8 years. So, when I started, I left in 2013, so, I started in 2005. Back then it was a crap magazine, we were making so many mistakes, we were like, stealing photos on the internet, not because we were bad guys, but because we didn’t know. For us it was like, Oh! There are photos on the internet! Let’s use one! We were young. But we improved every year and at the end it was a very good magazine. But at the very beginning it was very very bad. So, I know what it is editing a magazine, and it was like, every two months, 6 issues a year.
I’m not sure if printing is done. Look at Thrasher for example, it’s still a monthly magazine and it’s surprising, honestly I’m wondering, are they gonna print every month forever? I’m not sure about it. You have Place, SOLO, Snowboard magazine. Print is still there, still around us. But it’s hard to keep printing, because brands are like, ‘yeah, we put more money on instagram than on a print magazine’. So, yeah man, I love print, I do care about something tangible. I wanna have a printed photo. One day all the fucking iclowd is gonna disappear and we wont have anything left. So, print, very good, less but better. Once a year, that’s fucking cool.
Continuing with all the printing subjects, we wanted to talk a little bit about the ‘Recover’ project, can you tell us something about that?
When I was 12, I bought my first skateboard magazine, and then I had a subscription, then from 12 to 20 I started to have a huge collection of magazines from Europe and a couple of american magazines. Then, when I was 27 I started to draw. A year later I was getting bored in my room, at my studio, and around me there were a lot of magazines and I picked up a Vice magazine and randomly I just drew something on it and I thought it was cool, then I just took a photo. Found an email, send them one with the cover and they were like, fuck yeah! Can we share it? Yeah man! Do you want a subscription? Yeah man! And then I was like, maybe I have something… then I turned around my place, I had so many skateboard magazines so I thought of doing the same. So, the next ten days, I drew like, 50 skateboard magazines, emailed everybody, and they started to love it and to share it and also to give me subscriptions, so three years later I was receiving thirty magazines from the world in my place so if you think about the Recover project it was maybe a good technique to get magazines from all over the world.
Before ‘Devoted’, I had painted maybe over a thousand covers, and actually Devoted was the final step because I was in touch with the world in skateboarding, with all the magazines. The idea about making a documentary about the people that creates skateboard magazines. They were all like, fuck yeah Lucas, swing by! So I started to travel around the world, Australia, Europe, US, and I was in touch with them, so it was easier for me, because if you come with no contacts it is very hard, nobody wants to talk to you, they are like who are you man?
So, yeah, the Recover Project brought me the whole skate culture straight to my house. And then I had the chance to make the documentary and meet all my fucking heroes. Mark Johnson for example, Guy Mariano. Peter Smolik was very funny. Diego was like, man! Come on! Come in my place! If you come buy me a pack of cigarettes and a pack of beers!
What was it like working with Jérôme Tanon?
Jérôme is the best, man. He creates with so much passion. He is an alchemist. He is in his studio trying to make stuff with his fucking crazy eye. I love Jérôme because to me this guy is a purist. His passion comes first. He is not like a sellout boy taking all the projects for money. He is more like a passionate guy making his own project with no fucking money. And that’s amazing!
‘The eternal beauty of snowboarding’ (documentary by Jérôme Tanon) look at it, it’s in english, you are gonna freak out! He takes photos, and during all this trips he puts like a fucking shitty camera or just something to film, whatever, and for ten years he documented b-sides of his trips. Filming people taking shit down the mountain, people drunk. This movie is about the inbetween. He made this movie with no euros or sponsors, he did it because he wanted to do it. A year later, all the snowboard magazines said that it is one of the best snowboarding movies ever. So, if you think about it, somebody made a snowboard movie with no sponsorship, that’s crazy. That shows to the world that money doesn’t make you the best photographer, the best movie. The best movie comes from a magical mix of yourself, your ideas, the moment, you know? Nobody knows, it’s hard to say, I’m gonna make the best movie ever, because, people are hard, people are difficult now. They are like, oh! it’s good but… And he did something for history. Honestly. This movie is in the top 5 for me.
So, yeah, I did collab with Jérôme and he is just super simple. He just wants to be in a cabin in the middle of the forest with his camera, and having a simple and beautiful life. And I’m like him, you know? Simple is better, man.
A long time ago, we had an art show together. We sailed together. But we never travelled together. But we spent a week or so. We know each other very well.
What is to be human for you?
It’s very simple! I’m gonna be quick. To be human is not to be afraid of people, not to be afraid of the unknown. To me, to be human is smiling to people. I think the biggest problem today, in this world, is because we are scared of what we don’t know. ‘Oh, I’m scared to go to an arabic country, because somebody is gonna kill me there! Is gonna cut my head off!’ Or ‘I’m scared to eat this crazy shit from Africa!’ You know? So, we are always scared, and because we are scared we make mistakes. So it’s like, ‘I don’t wanna share anything’. So, I think being a human is taking care of what is going on around us and not just about us. Going outside, give a smile to somebody alone in it’s fucking bench, and living a hard life. To be human doesn’t cost nothing, but to give love sometimes, you know? Give a smile, be helpful.
It’s all about taking care of the others. That’s the best answer.
"To be human doesn’t cost nothing, but to give love sometimes, you know? Give a smile, be helpful.
It’s all about taking care of the others. That’s the best answer".
- Lucas Beaufort.
We believe that human beings are in constant exploration. How does this apply to your vision, and what paths remain to be traveled? What’s the future for humanity?
My vision of what’s gonna happen next, or perspective for the world for the future… I think what’s going on now, in (north)America, and so many different countries, London. Millions of people are protesting around the world, saying, we wanna do something and we want you to hear us! I love to see that.
I think it’s very important to go outside and scream for what you think it’s right for you and for the people. So, I’m positive because I think this thing, what’s happening now, like, 2020 is a big year, because I guess is gonna change many things. Trump is gonna be out, he won't be Trump anymore. Protesting against this ridiculous president.
There is another aspect that scares me a little bit, you know? We talked about don’t be scared about the unknown but I’m a little bit scared about the fact that we are a lot of people on the planet. Like 7 billion, or 7 and a half. And when you read scientific stuff they tell you that in 2050 we are going to be 10 billion. And I’m thinking like, how could we live together with 10 billion people when it’s hard being 7? A lot of people don't have food. Are we gonna make another planet next to planet earth? It’s impossible unless we create… you know? We are gonna double the buildings, the bridges, the roads… I don’t know, man. That’s something I think all the time. Where are we going? How many people are living on this planet?
And people are getting old, people live a hundred years, and it’s gonna be a hundred and twenty… and more and more people… where are we going like this? So, yeah, I think I wanna stay positive, I wont change the world, but, as you can see all the young people are down the street to try to change things, racism, we need justice, for the people, for everybody. Something that makes the world more fair.
I love the world. And I hope it’s gonna turn… yeah, I hope things are gonna be better, man. For the people, for the planet. For everyone.