Drift has been speaking to Biarritz artist Sam Dougados about his gargantuan sand artworks; where he draws his inspiration from and just how much he digs Margate and Jersey.
How do you plan these things out?
50% of the time I don’t plan anything and just improvise. Sometimes you can have an idea but the place is not as you were expecting so instead I try to find an idea within the beach itself utilising the puddles, rocks and natural landscapes. I try to keep a harmony in the drawing and allow it to keep a dialogue with its environment. I can have an idea, or a theme and I will absorb that and see what comes out in the drawing. I also keep a sketch book close to my side which is necessary when it becomes complicated or precise.
What tools are involved to make all of the shapes?
In my case just a rake, I don’t use rope or any other material. If I make a mistake, I just roll with it. I had an art professor in high school who banned using an eraser. If it’s a small mistake, I can try to rub it out it but generally I just work with it. I do count my steps and find myself walking backwards a lot, if I wasn’t making art I would look pretty weird.
How long does it take to create each piece?
between one to three hours, you are led by the tide though and as you well know some places are more gracious than others.
What inspires the artworks?
Nature in general, street art and of course people.
Sometimes it’s only geometrical because it is easier in a big space and easier to fill that space, sometimes it can be a written message or drawing – the same way a street artist would on a wall.
It is great how many people I can touch in a small time, I love to get a reaction and make them conscious about their surroundings. I love to make people put down their gossip magazines and see something different.
Is it easy to keep such big geometry when you are on the ground?
When you want something very perfect and symmetric it’s hard, but my drawings are not always symmetric. I try to keep an eye on a spot and walk straight or use small marks and as I said before lots of step counting.
What is planned for the future?
I would love to take the beach art message across the world. I have a forthcoming a web series with other elements of nature – wood, snow, beach and towns. There is a documentary possibility that will see me going from Africa to Norway if it all comes together and I have a show at the beginning of the summer at the Bernard Magrez Cultural Institut in Bordeaux, working with some graffiti artists painting an old WW2 blockhouse in front of the sand works. Some of my favourite pieces are printed on brushed aluminum and are available in limited edition.
When are you coming to England?
I’m waiting for your invitation! I was in England to work on a Bollywood movie in Margate working with Sand in your Eye and it was great fun, I would love to revisit and see much more of the country. I have also visited Jersey and I went to a cool festival in Ireland – both were great.
So your beach artworks are pretty cool, any other tricks up your sleeve?
Generally, nature inspires me and I try to put my work into it as I put nature into my work. I make outside installations and also sculptures but it’s less easy to sell than a photo on a wall and takes lot of effort