We first found Francois Jaubert when he won the 2016 VISSLA Upcycle contest with a surfboard made out of cardboard. He blew us away with his approach to boards. We’ve been keeping in touch since then and the former architect has been very busy. Currently in California attending the 2017 Upcycle contest (where he ended runner up) we thought it would be a great time to catch up and talk about the past year and his upcoming projects
You used to be an architect, what made you decide to change your life and get fully involved into art and shaping?
As an architect I used to be busy all the time, working from my own office and teaching at university. My life was all about planning, fitting all the boxes, with not much space for improvisation. I felt like I needed to re- start something from the beginning, take the time to learn something new, get stoked again, like when I was a kid. I quit my comfort zone, took some surfboards and some basic tools with me and went to Supertubes, Peniche for 6 months. Art came straight to me, getting barreled in Supertubes was pretty inspiring and I start drawing visions that I felt in the water. As for shaping, in Portugal it was not always easy to get materials to shape a board, so I started to look what was around me and use it. Cardboard is everywhere and had has some pretty sick properties, in terms of rigidity and floatation.
As a winner of the Vissla 2016 Upcycle Contest why do you think shaping should take the environment more into consideration and how do you see the evolution of shaping?
Shaping has made some amazing improvements in the last 10 years, we are now able to produce and re-produce any board, from any shaper, from the oldest to the newest design. I think that the reflection, for the next 10 years, should now be on the material itself. We should stop digging into mother nature, and use more of what we over produce in our society.
Recently during the Quik Pro in Hossegor you ended up painting a church. How did that happen?
Last summer, I was travelling in the south west of France and I went to see the premiere of “Pedro´s bay” from Vissla in Hossegor, it took place in an amazing church near the beach. It was a great show, when the movie ended, I went straight up to meet Rich and Reggie, the actual Pastor and his wife, and since then we became friends and we worked and surfed together during the summer. One evening, coming back from a surf check, Rich and Reggie asked me: “Can you make something big on the façade for the Quik Pro?” The next day, Rich got the catholic priest on board. We went straight to Bayonne, to rent a lift for the day. It was on!
What’s the craziest art installation you’ve made?
The craziest installation I’ve made might be at the church in Hossegor. When I told Rich that I could do something on the façade I had no idea how I would achieve the piece. The church is big, how would we do it, especially up so high? I never used a lift before and I am a terrible driver, but Rich encouraged and trusted me all day long. The first try was sketchy, but slowly I learned to drive the machine. We did the all of the facade in one day. I felt an amazing energy that day; people passing by were taking pictures. Over the next days, more people came, that was a great project!
Who are your inspirations in term of arts and shaping?
As an artist, I am a big fan of James Turrell, his work on light and colors is very impressive. The work of the French artist Pierre Soulage inspired me since my first year at the university, he is the painter of black, he sees light as a dark material and use objects such as spoons to create textures.
I start my shaping career as an architect would; I am very concerned about minimalist and brutalism doctrine led by Mies Van der Rohe and Le Corbusier from the early 30´s. As shaper, I had the chance to meet Donald Brink in San Clemente, he is a true genius, his boards are modern and very innovative. I am also a fan of Jeff Mc Callum, his work on texture and curves is impressive. In terms of performance design I´ll go for the Hayden shape technology, these boards are very minimal and perform very good.
Where do you call home at the moment?
This is a hard question … I would call home, an inspiring place where you feel confortable, where you have good friends and a good surf spot near by. I feel confortable in Hossegor France, I have a lot of friends in San Clemente California, I know some un-crowded waves in Peniche Portugal and I feel very inspired by Barcelona Spain.
What are your plans for the coming months?
I am now staying at the House of Trestles in San Clemente for a couple of weeks. My plans are to keeping going. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life planning everything, now I just want to let it go and see what happens. Art, surfboards and the environment are my motivations; my goal is to travel, meet new people and get stoked everyday inside and outside the water. I am filming all my experiences; hopefully I end up editing some sick footage in early 2018.