Samuel Dougados: Nature is My Medium, the Beach My Canvas

Sam Dougados is an innovative French artist whose unique and self-taught craft focuses on using the beach as his canvas - by forming intricate designs with the natural elements of shorelines during periods of low tide.

Sam DougadosSource: Myriam Boye,

How would you describe your story?

Very young, I felt the need to express myself, to exteriorize my emotions by materialising them. It started with writing, then painting, sculpture, trying my hand at different mediums and techniques that I learned on my own, having had no artistic training. In 2007, I was fired [ I was working for a shoe brand!] followed by a breakup with my girlfriend at the time. I decided at that moment to do what I liked, to live for myself and to try to live from art.

What led you to choose to work as a beach artist?

During this period of renewal and artistic research, I discovered beach art in a surf video during a competition I was attending. I immediately liked it a lot, the size, the ephemeral side, the support and having no limit. 1 year later I moved near the perfect beach to try this technique in Biarritz. It was July 2008, the beginning of a long story. At the time I was the first and only one in France to do this kind of drawing and to develop it as a real artistic technique. The photo very quickly became a second job, first to keep track, but quickly to create a second work, permanent this time.

Sam Dougados

What do you look for when deciding which beach is best fit for your ephemeral pieces?

I have drawn in 11 countries and I love discovering a new beach that lends itself to my art. Above all, I need height to then take a picture of my work, even if I'm starting to use my drone a little more, the regulations are quite restrictive and I like to control my picture with a foreground, such as rocks or a cliff, which will give more intensity to the work than if it were lost on an immensity of sand.

The sand of course must lend itself to it, it must be hard and wet so not all beaches are suitable for my work. There must be harmony in the final photo, my work must integrate as well as possible into its environment. The beach can even be small or surrounded by buildings, it can also be of interest if a dialogue is created, an interaction between my drawing and its environment.

What message are you trying to translate through your art?

Nature is my medium, the beach my canvas.

I am lucky to have a lively work environment, the light changes, the sand moves every day, all the senses are highlighted, the sound of the waves, the taste of the spray, it's a creative process that makes me feel alive and in symbiosis with nature. This nature is the main work and my work being there only to better highlight it. My intervention allows us to stop and enjoy the poetry of the moment, to become aware of this environment, of its beauty and its fragility, by placing ourselves as conscious contemplators and the ephemeral side of my work reinforces this.

Sam DougadosSource: Myriam Boye,

What are your influences when it comes to creating your art?

I am used to improvising, letting myself be lulled by the atmosphere, the place, the country or its culture. In Morocco, for example, where I go regularly, I often create works inspired by Islamic art, zelliges or more recently the ironwork that I saw during my travels, on the metal doors, typical of the country.

In Portugal, it was the azulejos that inspired me. It can be the surrounding nature, the puddles, the rocks, the cracks... and sometimes I have ideas that I put in a notebook for later.

Is there something in particular that links all your beach art together (other than the medium)?

Some pieces may have the same inspiration, like my works made in Morocco where you will find a common influence and style, but many are independent of each other, often with their own story.

Sam Dougados

Do you see yourself moving away from beach art or mixing beach art with different mediums? What do you see yourself working with/on in the coming years?

Absolutely, as I came to beach art through other mediums, I keep thinking about it. I am currently working on my next exhibition where I will present old sculptures that can be shown, based on salt, but also new ones, from my drawings on the sand. A way to materialise these to be able to hang them on the wall. I am in contact with a local company that has created a pine resin, 100% recyclable and natural. I like to cross arts and techniques and even more when it is innovative and if possible, sustainable.

I also work with a jeweller for the creation of jewellery inspired by my works, it is very exciting to learn other techniques and to work with other competent people in another field.

My beach art photos are printed on brushed aluminium for its grain and luminosity but I am also currently working on cyanotypes which will also be presented for the first time at this exhibition in May.

I don't lock myself into one technique. Lots of new things to come!

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