Parisian artist Frederic Monceau @frederic.monceau gave us the opportunity of asking him really important questions about his projects, his vision of art and more, adding, in the end, a couple of tips for young photographers and anyone out there reading this who want to make a living out of their dreams.
Before jumping to the questions, we want you to know Frederic better. He had long been drawn to the world of creative expression before being a professional photographer. At the age of 21, he published his first novel, and all of a sudden he discovered his passion for photography. Being now considered one of Paris’s most talented photographers, he has worked with important publications such as Vogue, GQ and L’Officiel, and many others.
Amongst some of his most important exhibits are the November 2014 Paris exhibition named “Dancing smoking” which was about movement and dance, with the participation of the choreograph Redha Benteifour. In May 2015, he showed another exhibition of his photos in the same gallery inspired by the famous Chelsea Hotel in New York. The same year, Frederic’s pictures were exposed in the Nikki Diana Marquardt Gallery, Paris, for the Summer Pup up yoga event. In 2018, he was recruited by the agency SIPA, through which he traveled to cover stories on famous individuals and their families across the globe.
The same year, he participated in a global exhibition project in Germany about Fischerspooner. The installation at NAK Gallery is an artistic extension of Fischerspooner’s fourth album project, also titled SIR. Then, during Cannes Film Festival, Frederic Monceau started working with First Access Management, meeting lots of celebrities such as Nicole Scherzinger, Winnie Harlow, Naomi Campbell, Bella Hadid or Evan Ross, and he has never stopped ever since! By the end of 2019, an important exhibition of Frederic’s work “ VISION” took place in Bangkok.
As we said before, photography was an accident. He considers himself an artist because there is a creative process in everything he does. In addition, he considers photography as “a way to meet other talented artists or people with whom I can fall in love,” and as a key for him to achieve “an exciting lifestyle” in his own words.
I never defined myself as a photographer, I am an artist.
His style, defined by himself as a mixture of “classism and modernity,” and “a mix of different cultural influences,” he states that photography “allows me to express something like a blank canvas allows a painter to express his feelings,” and that it is not a solitary art.
Furthermore, we wanted to know what really does the concept of ‘art’ mean for such a creative person who has dedicated his whole life to it and continues being passionate about it. Starting with about a beautiful quote by André Malraux, we know how deeply Frederic Monceau feels art and everything it means and he reflects it in the words he says quoted on this interview’s title.
“Art is the shortest path from man to man.”By André Malraux
I think we could survive without art but we couldn’t live without it.Frederic Monceau
Also working as a fashion photographer, we asked him about the predominance of the female figure in the fashion industry, but when it comes to art and not business, he told us a big truth. Even though it may seem that fashion is for women, fashion is really for everyone and everyone play a great role in this industry. As Frederic said:
Fashion is an art and art has no gender. In general, gender, sexual orientation, skin color should not impact our vision.
Linking with this topic, we wanted to start a debate about the difference between fashion photography and art photography, which can be clear for some but it really is a very interesting topic to talk about. In this question, Frederic talked a little bit about how it is a “question of perspective and feeling which makes the border between these two categories very abstract,”
The major problem today is to wonder what is the difference between a fashion and an artistic picture because the answer is very simple: there is none.
As we love doing with everyone we interview, we ask them to give some piece of advice for our readers to grow in their professional careers and encourage young artists to start doing what they love and to start chasing their dreams. Everyone knows that the fashion industry and any art discipline in general is a very tough path to follow, but with hope and passion everything gets easier. It is really important to read this question because Frederic has a lot of experience in this field and gives amazing advice, but we wanted to highlight this statement.
The difficulty in embarking on an artistic career is that there are no rules to follow. Each path is different and each artist would undoubtedly not have succeeded if they had followed the path of another. Success is a combination of luck, work, confidence in oneself and in the future, uniqueness, etc.
Q: What made you fall in love with photography and how were your first years as a professional photographer?
A: Photography was more a surprising and wonderful accident than something I really desired. I never defined myself as a photographer, I am an artist (besides, fashion photography is not a discipline, it is an art. It might be time to all agree on this). I didn’t fall in love with photography. It is a way to meet other talented artists or people with whom I can fall in love. For me, photography is a key allowing me to access an exciting lifestyle. The first years were rich in encounters, energy and emotions. Everything is a question of energies. There have always been doubts, successes, failures, ups and downs… Despite everything, I have always had faith in the future and I have always had the necessary ambition not to give up and keep going.
Q: How would you define yourself and your style? Which is your creative process?
A: From an artistic point of view, my style is not different from my person because I am convinced that we do what we are. My style is somewhere between classism and modernity, it’s a mix of different cultural influences. I have always been convinced that the mistake peculiar to artists is to believe that they will find better by meditating than by trying! What we wanted to do is by doing it that we find out. My creative process is always different because it depends on my emotions, the projects I’m working on and my state of mind at the moment. This is what makes what I do interesting because every day is different. To be more concrete about photography, I like to define a space in which to evolve then forget everything about the moment to give way to improvisation and the force of the moment.
Q: In which way does photography help you express your emotions and creativity?
A: Photography is a medium that allows me to express something like a blank canvas allows a painter to express his feelings. I love that photography is a brief bond between foresight and chance. Photography is not a solitary art, it leaves room for encounters. When a writer writes alone to create, I always have a team to create. This is what is fascinating about this discipline. My creativity is directly linked to the people I hang out with. This is why photography and its mode of operation push me to create because I am not alone.
Q: What does art mean to you?
A: André Malraux said that “Art is the shortest path from man to man.” Art is essential to me and it has different roles. It is at the same time a counter-power, a source of hope, a guarantee of the truth, a therapy, an introspection, a generator of energy. I think we could survive without art but we couldn’t live without it. More generally, art is an irreplaceable precious collective memory that is essential to preserve to avoid repeating the errors of the past, to understand our present, and to guess our future to make it more beautiful and fair. The art form I practice is visual. The photography freezes the moment and captures a moment. It is a rediscovery of my own gaze each time I observe a final picture because art has this special and incomprehensible capacity to reveal something invisible or intangible.
Q: It is true that fashion is depicted as something for women. How do you see the role of males in fashion?
A: This is wrong. Fashion is an art and art has no gender. There is a difference between fashion in a conceptional way and fashion from a marketing and business point of view. The women’s market share is more lucrative in this industry, due to the vision imposed on us in our consumer society today. Inclusion is not the absence of exclusion. The role of males in fashion is as important as the one of women to change things. Globally, I think we have to stop seeing people according to their gender. We have to appreciate a person’s talent, energy and motivation. This vision should not be limited to fashion. In general, gender, sexual orientation, skin color should not impact our vision.
Q: You do editorials for magazines and also photographic exhibitions, what is the difference between fashion photography and artistic photography?
A: The difference between a fashion photograph and an art photograph can be clear or almost invisible. Everything is a question of perspective and feeling which makes the border between these two categories very abstract. I think that museums or galleries reinforce the artistic dimension of an image while magazines or advertising displays popularize the image. One of the main reasons that fashion photography is devalued from an artistic point of view is obviously the medium and the idea that the image is associated with a brand in a marketing process. While in theory art wants to be detached from any influence outside the artist. This is hypocritical because the majority of artists today mass produce for commercial purposes and are fully part of a capitalist world. It is therefore a little easy to criticize this commercial aspect of fashion photography when the gallery owners in the same try to highlight artists with whom they are sure to make sales.
When the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts offered Richard Avedon a retrospective in 1970, he agreed under the condition that the show excludes his fashion photography. He said, “the dirtiest word in the eyes of the art world.” Although he eventually relented – and fashion has become the genre for which he’s most celebrated – fashion photography is still considered suspect by many art cognoscenti and, I think, this is something that must change in the collective unconscious and in the world of art connoisseurs, art dealers, gallery owners, etc. Fashion photography is the result of a creative process that involves reflection, technique, application and a personal and emotional dimension of its author. It is therefore neither more nor less a work of art. The major problem today is to wonder what is the difference between a fashion and an artistic picture because the answer is very simple: there is none.
Q: Which mistakes should a young photographer avoid?
A: We have to nurture an internal force that isn’t easily swayed by opinions negative or positive and I think young photographers should not use social media as a barometer of the quality of their work.
Q: Which projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on two photographic projects. The first one is called “ARTORITHM” which talks about the link between algorithms and identity. The second is an exhibition project against transphobia called “Je T’ <3”. I am right now working on a brand called “Fraternity” and I also think more and more about the cinema and doing some short or long movies.
Q: Which piece of advice would you give to those who want to start in this industry?
“Great artists have chance in their talent and talent in their chance.”
The difficulty in embarking on an artistic career is that there are no rules to follow. Each path is different and each artist would undoubtedly not have succeeded if they had followed the path of another. Success is a combination of luck, work, confidence in oneself and in the future, uniqueness, etc. Not comparing yourself to others and trying to do something that has already been done or is currently trending. Find your uniqueness and identity. Make no concessions with your own choices. Be ambitious and see in the long term. Big goals take time and are the result of a succession of small battles won. I think that to be successful in this industry you have to have artistic talent, a clear identity. But you also have to have a worldly talent. An ability to integrate and socialize easily with others. Contacts are essential to advance in fashion and to become successful.
Exclusive interview for Vanity Teen online!