We sat down with French photographer and visual artist, Joachim Romain, to discuss the inspiration behind his multifaceted art, difficulties he still faces in his career and his critically acclaimed photography series Fast_Shop.
How would you describe your art?
My art is a reflection, a critique of the consumption world. A world I love to play with and that inspires my creations.
The ripped posters, the re-use of materials, the installations and most importantly my photographs from the serie Fast_shop reminds us on the spending spree and the over-consumption.
Today, I’m realising that my work might become archive of an ancient era because the posters that I used are slowly disappearing.
When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career as an artist?
I have always created and worked in the creative industry but when I reached 30 years old, I decided to dedicate my entire time to creation. Before that, I had to dedicate 50% of my time on jobs to support myself.
Do you have a favourite piece of artwork, and if so why is it your favourite?
I really like Kiefer’s exhibition. I saw some of his artworks at the Beaubourg museum in Paris a few years ago, it was a very emotional moment. I haven’t experienced such a thing ever since.
What is your process when painting?
It is a process of layering and wearing posters. It can sometimes take weeks to create this kind of art pieces, posters and paintings. What’s portrayed in the art piece usually starts appearing around 80% completion. The choice of material really depends on what’s happening on the canva and can change from one piece to another.
What are your tools of choice?
The paintbrush, plaster knife, spray paint
Tell us about the colours on your palette and anything new you have been experimenting with.
Blue, red, fluo red, yellow, fluo pink, beige (wall).
For example, blue is a recurring colour coming from the back of metro posters, an iconic place for Paris and Parisians.
I work with plasters, stickers, posters and aluminium.
When you create art, what sort of physical, spiritual, mental or geographical place do you have to be in?
My favorite place to work and find inspiration is my « atelier ». I really enjoy working there while listening to my old ghettoblaster. It’s essential.
Depending on the time of the day, I adapt the music to my mood. The morning I usually listen to rap or rock music whereas in the afternoon I switch to a faster-paced and more energetic music like techno music, it gets you more excited.
What are the hardest things for you to get ‘right’?
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
One day in the subway, someone stopped me, looked at the canva I was holding and told me that I had « changed their day »- in a good way obviously. It was a great feeling and it’s always good to remember.
What makes a great artist?
In my opinion, a great artist is someone who brings something to art, that can vehicular emotions through his creations and not just “ohhh that’s pretty I love colours”. An artist is a person who masters his technique, someone who is determined to do anything to finish his creation.
What advice would you give to emerging artists entering the art world?
Do not give up, follow your passions, your inspirations, your creations and more than anything else: work work work, it often pays off whenever you expect it the least.
Tell us more about your Photography Series Fast_Shop
This is a series born in 2009 about our buying frenzy.
Here is a text written by Diane-Laure Souci on the series which to me describes the overall concept very well:
“In his Fast_Shop series, the artist draws on his intuitions and sensations on the frenetic and hypnotic impulses caused by online shopping. Indeed, the rise of new technologies and the digital world enabled brands to develop globally through the web. E-merchandising has spread across the globe and is now offering consumers paperless transactions and a wider variety of choices in their purchase. People save time, can compare prices, have access to the better offers, have access to customer review. They can also easily buy abroad and access a wider range of products in just a few clicks.
Just with his computer mouse, the buyer quickly hovers over sizes, colors, materials, and all other marketing tricks supposed to guide him – or disorient him – in his online purchase, without even realizing that he is constraining his body and eyes to a parade of pages and articles at an almost epileptic speed.
For this work, Joachim Romain browsed online stores and collected, classified, archived bookmarks. He hacked website pages modifying the html code of those websites to modify their graphic identity as he would imagine. Then he took screenshot of his computer screen to successfully capture the essence and energy of our frenzied pace to consume always faster. Using his camera placed on a tripod in front of the computer, he shot those online shop pages with a long exposure, using the cursor and moving the image of the screen to create random shapes and colors, close to the feeling of profusion and speed.
Overlays, repetitions, blurs, color aberrations, dead pixels, image shifting, ink saturation … are the results of its voluntary – involuntary – mutation to express our purchasing behavior in the virtual world. He then twisted, burned, torn off, painted, glued the resulting photographs to sculpt his own prints and recreate on “canvas” the urban wear and tear of the street from which his art originated.”
Joachim Romain is one of the contemporary artists that startup Millecent has taken under their wing. Millecent is an art consultancy that connects businesses with the best new artists worldwide to create meaningful, powerful and innovative collaborations through wall art, paintings, illustrations, installation, digital art and more.