Clean geometric lines and balanced colors with a universal message of love describe the art of Damien Poulain.
Wave a flag or grab a handbag. Gaze into the carefully lined shapes and patterns. If you look closely, you might identify the Poulain inspiration.
We’re learning more about this artist and taking you with us.
The Story of Damien Poulain
Damien Poulain describes himself as an art director, illustrator, and publisher. Born in 1975, he’s originally from France.
As a child, he pored over illustrated dictionaries to learn about other cultures and societies. His fascination grew quickly with the world’s flags and how they symbolized different territories.
In his teenage years, Damien was absorbed in music, comics, and traditional art with a focus on visual communication. While he attended art school in France, he dropped out early.
Poulain felt with the entire five-year program, he’d be stuck in the style the teachers taught. Instead, he took to travel to learn the approaches in different countries.
Initially, Damien went to Germany to study Gestaltung – the art of shaping, layout, formation, arrangement, structuring, composition, and forming. From there, he traveled to Spain, where he practiced Massana crafting.
In Italy, he worked at the Fabrica Benetton Research Center with A.G. Fronzoni, who taught him about minimalism. Eventually landing in London, Damien felt he could express his true self better there than anywhere.
What Type of Art Does Damien Poulain Create?
Damien Poulain’s work is nomadic and contextual in nature. His imprint ranges from monumental inventions to small-scale paintings, which he produces in an ongoing series linked to place and time. This artist’s creations span art, fashion, and even music.
Painting and Murals
Poulain’s preferred canvas is anything in public spaces. In fact, he paints on walls, floors, and any reachable object. If provided the opportunity, he’ll paint as large a scenescape as possible. The accuracy of the geometry he creates around corners and over edges is exact.
“By painting in urban spaces, I wish to spread a simple and yet complex message of and about love in various parts of the world, to confront people with a universal message about beauty, possibilities and choices,” Poulain writes on his Instagram page.
Masks, structures, cut-out walls, and other objects comprise the sculptures created by Poulain. Taking his basic geometric theme, he translates it into objects and characters.
In 2009, Damien Poulain created a sculpture exhibit at the London Kemistry Gallery. While combining politics and pop culture with toy art, he designed a multi-figure display, Totem 49.
“Totems traditionally serve as the symbol of a family or clan,” Poulain writes on his website. “I wanted to reinterpret that in a contemporary way with our own codes and symbols.”
Flags and their symbolism are a big part of Poulain’s ethos. He creates his own by sourcing imagery from traditional cultures. Damien then adds a deeper context to them with his current philosophy.
The visual statements often center on the Earth, our connection to nature, and the artist’s deep thoughts on the state of man.
Poulain has dabbled with wool and exhibited with traditional textiles that adorned tents in the Middle East. He also collaborates with online clothiers in the U.K. and Japan.
What Inspires Damien Poulain?
Since his youth, the influence of places where people live fascinated him. His practice stems from Shintoism, primitive and heraldic symbology, contemporary material, and digital culture. Damien keeps an open mind and likes to convey love, comfort, and togetherness in his work.
Poulain found influence from other artists as well. He identifies with the classic Picasso – the constant search and appetite for art.
He also appreciates Andy Warhol for understanding the world he lived in. Current designers like Roman Cieslewicz demonstrate an amazing eye for detail and powerful design for Poulain.
What Is Oodee?
Project Oodee started with an idea in 2011. Damien Poulain never meant to become a publisher but felt it was necessary to produce artwork he found vitally important.
The idea was to publish the work of young female photographers. Poulain lived in East London, where he spent time with artists and photographers from Trolley Books. But he noticed males dominated most of the world’s photography.
The project’s goal was to raise awareness about young female talent. It would also give individuals their first book and help further their careers.
Oodee was so successful that all the initial copies sold out in weeks. Poulain continued the project in other cities. Oodee is now an award-winning independent publishing house. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Who Has Damien Poulain Collaborated With?
Aside from collaborating with young female photographers, Poulain’s clean and simple geometric designs caught the interest of London-based Folk Clothing. The founder, Cathal McAteer, has a keen mind for meticulous details and loves to wander.
Poulain recently teamed up with Folk for the new Everything is Temporary collection. Harkening back to his early childhood interests, the designs center around three unique flags. The bold, colorful icons speak to home, belonging, and the spirit of optimism.
Folk took real-life scenes from Damien’s textile art pieces and commissioned photographer Will Cooper Mitchell to capture the art in real life. As a result, the images created a limited edition catalog. Folk’s values and aesthetics mix well with Damien’s.
What Are Some of Damien Poulain’s Art Pieces?
Damien Poulain says the three most important points to consider in his creative process are thinking, sketching, and producing. Can you see the steps in these art pieces?
Having To, Wanting To, Rethink
Having To, Wanting To, Rethink is a Le Mouvement, Paris commissioned piece for Performance, 2020. It involved 200 flags made of recycled textiles for March for the Climate. Poulain worked with art school students to restyle the French flag into three vertical stripes.
The original March got canceled. So, Poulain and the students held a mini demonstration of 30 flags in front of Paris City Hall.
On an invitation from the Japanese store, Hankyu Umeda Osaka, Poulain created a sculpture. It’s a series of six monumental, motorized sculptures.
The four-sided white clouds, horizontal green stripes, and blue center thematically represent the environment. Poulain also captured recycling using the symbol of the Japanese spirits, Kami.
Happy is a monumental wall painting in Paris, France, commissioned by Side. Painted with acrylics, the wall art measures 1,700 cm by 250 cm. For the non-metric using readers, that’s roughly 55 ft by 8 ft.
In his notable geometric style, Poulain chose soothing green, navy blue, and light teal as accents. Diamonds, circles, and rectangles almost seem to smile.
Where Can I See Damien Poulain’s Art?
As we noted, Poulain is quite the traveler. In fact, he regularly exhibits in European and Asian countries.
His most recent show was in Ghent, Belgium, and he’s planning another for the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany. Following the news tab on his website keeps us in the know for his next event.
Several online art retailers carry Poulain’s art. He also has limited pieces on his website.
If you don’t expect to be traveling anytime soon, you can keep up regularly with Damien Poulain on his Instagram page. You can see him in action as he creates his work. Additionally, he provides commentary and the motivation behind the artwork for many of the images.
Outside Folk Gallery
You can explore more folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans.
We’ll also be offering pop-up shows and collaborations with small museums, so be sure to follow us to discover the where and when!
Influenced By World Cultures
Damien Poulain envisions a loving, more connected world. His work transcends cultures and embraces elements of all the places he’s lived or studied in.
Since we’ve expanded our family, what the future holds is much more important to us. We appreciate Poulain’s love of travel and culture. In fact, we’re a bit like that ourselves.
What’s your favorite thing about Damien Poulain? Tell us in the comments below.