In 2014, I was titling ‘Amazing elephant skateboard deck by Unknown …’ under the image of the first work I knew Julien Deniau. It has marked me that well, although at the time I didn’t even know who was the author. The Daily Board was a Tumblr and the sources were hard to find (you can find all the archives since 2011 here).
4 years later, this work ended up becoming so symbolic for me to illustrate the creativity around the support of the skateboard, that I integrate it to my book Skate Art in the category ‘Board hijacking’.
Needless to say, I saw more of his work, we exchanged by mail and we met this year in Bordeaux and in his adopted city: Barcelona. After a shooting session in Macba for the 10th anniversary of the Rufus skateshop, he was kind enough to answer my questions!
Hello Julien, I’m delighted to have you here! Can you introduce yourself to those who do not know you?
Hi, I’m Julien Deniau, from Chesnay in the suburbs of Paris. I have been skating since 1989 and I had a short career as a skater sponsored by different brands between 1996 and 2002.
I am also a photographer, filmer and artist. Multi function as they say!
So, I just started cutting boards and painting them.
How did you become a pro skate photographer and what was the moment when you said: it’s good, from now on, I will always work in the skate business?
I started doing skateboarding photos very early, with my friends. In 1997, I had my first publication in the magazine Tricks, which motivated me even more. Then a few years later I became one of the main photographers of the mag, which allowed me to document the skate sessions and to photograph the contests and travels I was doing.
You went from Paris to Barcelona. How was it done? It was easy or you had a little time to adapt?
In 2000, I came to Barcelona with my good friend Rico Saxi (RIP) and Guillaume Langlois from Toulouse. The idea was to stay just a few months, but when we found an apartment, we signed a contract for 5 years. So, I stayed! For me, as a photographer and skateboarder, it was perfectly perfect since at the time, absolutely all the best skaters in the world came to Barcelona….
When did you take your first boards and customize them?
I started painting and customizing boards in 2008. I was already painting on canvas, but over time I wanted to do something special and get out of the square format. So, I just started cutting boards and painting them.
What is the biggest work you did? And which one are you most proud of?
In 2016, I created a special work for an exhibition at the Château d’Autrey, next to Reims. It is an almost real size Eagle made with 15 boards. It is 2 meters wide and 90 cm high. It took me 3 months to do it and I would say it’s the one I’m most proud of.
Can you explain the whole process of creating a new work?
For my creations, often the ideas come by chance. I first do a drawing on paper, then I try to adapt it to skate format, so I take one or more boards that I put together.
Then I draw directly on the boards with black lines to cut. Once cut, I sand with the grip of the same board after removing it. I try to recycle as much as possible!
The painting part is what takes the most time. I can put between 2 weeks to 1 month per work. I make all the funds with acrylic paint then all the details are made in Poscas.
… I think that Skate Art will go more and more …
What inspires you the most to make your creations?
My inspirations come from my travels and my daily life. Street art, exhibitions, museums, the street … I love ancient cultures such as Mayas, Incas, which bring us back to more simple and decorative cultures. Often I try to make works in accordance with the news and send a message on the themes of the environment, animals, politics …
Can you give me the 3 artists Instagram accounts that are really slapping you right now?
The little question I always ask, do you see him evolve in what way do you skate art?
Frankly, I don’t know. Art in general will never die and I think that Skate Art will go further and further as skateboarding becomes more and more public …
Can you give me upcoming projects or exhibitions for you?
I will exhibit during a big recycling festival in Barcelona from November to January. For the next year I have several artistic projects, I would like to go paint at “Street Art City” during the summer.
And I’d like to do a series of expo in France and other European countries, then make a big exhibition on the sport in relation with the Olympic Games. I am looking for collaborators and places to do it.
You are rather:
SINGLE PIECES OR SERIES PRODUCTION: Both
HAND OR COMPUTER: Especially by hand
SKATE & CREATE GOLD SKATE & DESTROY: Skate & Create
WHAT IS BOOSTING: The friends and the family
WHAT SLOWS YOU: Shitty weather, luckily it’s nice all the time in Barcelona, haha!
FAVORITE TRICK: Kickflip
FAVORITE SKATER: Ronnie Creager
FAVORITE VIDEO: Zoo York Mixtape
YOUR DREAM: exhibit all over the world and travel!
One last thing to say?
Keep rolling and creating.