In Conversation with

Bertrand Fompeyrine, Artist. Paris, France.

Video still taken from 'Waste and Sand - Artist Portrait'. Courtesy of Ivan Isker.

Solid colours and abstract shapes, Bertrand Fompeyrine takes waste and converts it into something beautiful. From painting caves on the beaches of Mexico to creating costumes from plastic bags - Bertrand’s art exceeds all limitations. Freedom and liberty speak largely in his work, creations that warm a part of our hearts. Our conversation with Bertrand brought us back down to earth, resonating with his motto - “being creative for fun, nothing more”.

Hi Bertrand! Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Bertrand Fompeyrine, I was born and I grew up in Toulouse in 1987. I studied architecture in France, Norway and Germany, before graduating in Paris in 2010. I worked as an architect for 5 years before exploring other creative fields. I now live and work as a photographer and artist/designer in Paris and Mexico.

I like to explore the full realm of design creations at every scale, and to be close to the process of making objects. Most of my design work is strongly related to Art & Craft. When making pieces on my own, I prefer to use scrap and cheap materials that I find or rescue, with affordable techniques. Right now, I'm mostly working with polystyrene waste that I cover with sand, paint or glitter. These creations are heavily influenced by everyday encounters in the streets, nature, garbage, construction sites, etc.  I like to create without premeditation : gesture and spontaneity is the most important focus.

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Works of Fompeyrine, 'Yucatan'. Courtesy of Bertrand Fompeyrine.

How would you describe your studio space?

My studio is a private place, It is also my home. I like to share it, but also to keep it private sometimes. It‘s a personal space of expression. I need and like to be close to my personal belongings, collections of souvenirs : everything that makes me remember my family, friends, travels or experiences. My apartment is kind of small, I need to be very organized. The space is a collection of things. It is not minimal at all, but I can also imagine myself living in a place like that. My work can be done everywhere, as long as I have the few materials I need to create. Recently, I worked directly on the beach, with the sand of Guerrero, Mexico, it was magical. Freedom is the key, and liberty is my only constant preoccupation.


Inside the studio and home of Fompeyrine. Courtesy of Fompeyrine.

Where do you find inspiration?

I am inspired by my experiences. Everything I see and discover is important. Ideas can appear in unusual moments. I like to draw, or to take pictures to remember them (I show them on my other Instagram account @collectible_memory). 


I’m always inspired by warm colors. I grew up in the south of France. I spent 18 years in Toulouse, which is called the “pink city” (grace to the bricks color), and we used to visit a lot of places around there for vacation with my parents.


We had a countryside house in Ercé, a small village in Ariège, where I used to spend my weekends surrounded by forest and mountains. I like Mediterranean places where I spent a lot of vacations, such as Collioure & Sète, and also the mountains : Pyrénées & Alpes (my parents loved to do alpinism). Rocks and sand are an important part of my aesthetic.


For the last 10 years, my focus has been on Mexico. I visit several times a year to rest, work and see my friends. I love the colors, strong light, tropical landscapes with flowers, beaches with black, blue, green, turquoise water, colonial cities with colorful walls, desertic and volcanic places… I love places with strong character or atmosphere in general.


Art is very important. Going back to prehistoric caves, with paintings of hands or animals. This symbol of hand is very important to me. It is the symbol of gesture. Gesture of humans, conscious or unconscious, small traces of our passage or huge work of art. 

Also, I will never be without music, it is always by my side.


Fompeyrine's collection of sands. Courtesy of Bertrand Fompeyrine.

How did you get to where you are today?

I always make things for my own, without thinking of selling them. This is very important to my practice. 


The last few years, I was drawing a lot, in a very dense style, all black and white. When I quit architecture, I made colorful costumes with recycled plastic bags, in collaboration with my dear friend Tandi Reason Dahl. That was the start of my upcycling process and interest. Our goal was “Being creative for fun, nothing more”. 


Then, I produced objects for my home, such as decorative objects, and I began to put them into my own photographic works for architects. 


It’s very hard for me to let my sculptures go. I always want to keep them all for my own collection. 


One big step for me was to quit money making jobs (after architecture, I was working as a set designer), to focus on my own desire. It took up so much energy that I wasn't ever creating for myself. 


I have now found a good balance with my other job that I truly love (I work as a photographer of architecture). I have a lot of work, but it makes me happy, and doesn’t take my creative energy.

'Burnout'. Courtesy of vissiovissio.com

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'Chaise Frange'. Courtesy of Bertrand Fompeyrine.

Do you have a favourite project?

My favorite project was a residency in Morocco called “Massa Project”. It was a friend's residency, where 5 artists (all incredible human souls), were invited to paint fisherman caves in front of the sea. I had never painted something like this before, but it gave me so much freedom and joy, that it changed something in me. Back in Paris, I had so much energy to work on new things, with a different approach. This was the first place that I collected sand from.

Fompeyrine's residency 'Massa Project', Morocco. Courtesy of Bertrand Fompeyrine.

Fompeyrine's residency 'Massa Project', Morocco. Courtesy of Bertrand Fompeyrine.

Location of Fompeyrine's residency 'Massa Project', Morocco. Courtesy of Bertrand Fompeyrine.

How do you stay creative?

I don’t put pressure on my production. I create new sculptures when I want to. That’s all. I have long breaks at times. Then the next thing you know I am creating for days and nights in a row. I am very flexible with my own agenda and needs. After vacations I always want to explore new ideas.


Do you have any advice for creatives starting out?

Be yourself, everyone is already taken. Tell your own story.

Works of Fompeyrine, 'Acapulco'. Courtesy of Bertrand Fompeyrine.

Whose studio would you love to get inside?

It changes everyday, but here are a few creatives that I love and am inspired by:

Architecture (César Manrique, Luis Barragan, Matias Goeritz, Mauricio Rocha, Legoreta & Legoreta, Studio Ko)


Arts (Philolaos Tloupas, Pierre Soulages, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Georgio Morandi, Guillaume Bresson, Leonor Fini, Paul Gauguin, Peter Doig, Ramiro Gomez, Ricardo Martinez, Rufino Tamayo)


Interior Design (Madeleine Castaing, Pierre Yovanovich, Dimore Studio)


Design (Max Lamb, Philippe Malouin, Campana brothers, Tezontle Studio)


Illustration (Linda Merad)


Fashion (Jacquemus, Schiaparelli)


Photography (Graciela Iturbide, Harry Gruyaert, Lorenzo Vitturi, Sebastiao Salgado, Viviane Sassen, Harley Weir)


...and so many more .

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Bertrand Fompeyrine.

Bye Bertrand!