PEOPLEText: Noriyuki Abe

Damien Poulain is an art director and illustrator who has step up his career, through the work and lives in the various countries and area in Europe. We asked him about works to a wide variety and the publishing project “oodee.” As knowing his position to creative activities, we might be able to find one tip of an idea.


Who is Damien Poulain? Could you introduce yourself?

I am an art director, illustrator and publisher, based in London since 2002.
My work jumps from one field to another keeping in mind the importance of the process.

Tokyo for Uniqlo Paper, 2010 ©Damien Poulain

Please tell us about latest activities and past project which was impressive for you?

Lately, I’ve been  redesigning the website for my photography book publishing oodee, we’ve launched five new photography books in Bogota for the series POV female, I’ve designed art books, made illustrations for various brands. If I have to recall a good collaboration, Uniqlo is still one of my big and ongoing project. I’ve been collaborating with them since 2002 and it always been fantastic as they give me so much freedom and space to create, it is quite rare to find companies that let you respond freely to a brief and take things with an open mind.

Capsule Hotel for UT OMIYAGE project 2012 ©Damien Poulain

It seems you lived & worked in various cities such as France, Spain, Germany, Italy and London. Could you tell us career and what did you do in each cities ? Have you ever felt particular influences that a place gives to creative activities?

Since a young age, I am interested in the influence in the place you live in, the people you meet and how it can influence your career and path. I did go to art school in France and felt that if I did the whole course (five years) in that particular school, I would have adopted the style because of the teacher’s influence and the method of work. There are mentalities and approach in each school or country you go, so I decided to travel and create my own path. This wasn’t easy at all, but beauty doesn’t come as easy and I believe in hard work to succeed your dreams. I went to study and work in Germany to understand Gestaltung, Spain to study at the Massana to work on crafts, Italy to work at Fabrica Benettton research centre and with AG Fronzoni who taught me minimalism and gave me priceless advices.
After all this, I guess I was trying to find the place that was open enough to the world and to broad ideas. London was the only place in europe in my view where you can be yourself, your real self and let you be as a young individual. It is a place where you can express your creative ideas fully.

Paper Man, 2014 ©Damien Poulain

It seems that you could work on several different medias (illustration, photograph, design & etc). Which one now do you focus on ? 

I am following my interest and am very passionate in everything I do, so if I decide to paint, I do learn and work hard to master the craft, if I do want to change I do it but always study it beforehand.
At this stage in my life things narrow down to a good balance between publishing, illustration and graphic design. One thing fund the next or feed the other practice. Nothing has a stronger place even though publishing is taking lots of my time and I love it.

Ask Again, 2014 ©Damien Poulain

Please tell us the 3 most important points in the process of making your artwork.

Think, sketch, produce.

oodee books, 2014 ©Damien Poulain

Please tell us about the publishing project ‘oodee.’

“oodee” started with an idea in 2011. I never meant to become a publisher, this was a necessity.
This all started with the idea of publishing the work of young female photographers. In London, I was hanging out with various artists, living in an old weirdly converted pub in deep East London with artists and hanging out with the photographers from Trolley Books, I noticed that world of photography was still predominantly dominated by male. My idea was to raise awareness about the talent of young female photographers but also to give to young individual their first book as it is very important to be helped / pushed when you just start your carreer to be seen.
The project went so well that it all the copies sold out with weeks and so I carried on with the intention of doing the same project in five cities in total. For that I had to host them under one structure, so oodee was born and it does now publish the work of very established photographers which help even more the young ones to be seen. I love it!

What were you absorbed in when you’re a teenager ?

Comics, music, making sculptures, painting, drawing. Mainly art with a real focus on visual communication.

Unknown, failed panorama photo

What is a moment that made you laugh mostly in the last 7 days?

Photos of fail panoramas taken with mobile phones.

Roman Cieslewicz

Who are designers / artists influenced you?

Because of my constant travels and search in various medias, I have many influences, from designers such as Roman Cieślewicz for his amazing eye and powerful design, Les Graphistes Associes for their collective art and energy, AG Fronzoni for his minimalism and respectable ideas about life. Artists such as Andy Warhol for his understanding of the world he was living in, Picasso for his constant search and appetite for art.
There are many more, some influenced me not only for what they do but for who they are, their life choices and path.

If you have any comments to the audience.

Be honest to yourself, always, no matter what.

Text: Noriyuki Abe

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