Outside of Reality Volcom X Arthur

All of the lifts are closed here in Switzerland and it’s a beautiful day by the lake in Geneva. We’re here to celebrate the release of Arthur Longo’s new streetwear collection with Volcom at the legendary Tranzport shop. He’s been a busy boy, so before things get too hectic, we take a moment together to talk about snowboarding, art and his relationship with creatures that may not have ever existed…

Arthur in the studio © Aline Roy

Hey Arthur, How was your season?
Well, I would call it a proper snowboard season. Good times and bad times, good snow and bad snow, a bit of injuries and a bit of healthy times… a bit of everything. We filmed in Japan and Europe and finished the season in North America. It was just full on dedication to filming for our new Volcom project.

There were ups and downs, especially with a broken rib that kept me out of the Natural Selection. That was right when I got back from Japan. It’s always a bummer because you never know how long it’s gonna take to heal. So I had to go through a period of filming where I had to push through, even when I wasn’t feeling my best. But there were also plenty of times when I felt good and could ride the way I wanted. So overall, looking back, I would say it was a good season, full of everything that a season can be. Just living it all.

What’s the plan for the movie?
It’s just me and these two kids: Jadyn Chomlack, who is from Whistler, and Cannon Cummins, from Seattle. I’m a bit older, so for me the movie became about pushing these two kids who are already insane snowboarders, but just aren’t established yet. So I really wanted to give them the space. In return, they gave me so much energy when we were riding together.

We all ride differently, but there are similarities. We share a similar vision and have the same ways of having fun with it. They’re also not into spending too much time preparing spots and just keeping it chill.

Arthur and Olivier Gittler made 'unprepared spots' cool again with their SHE series.

Sounds amazing… still, it’s a shame that you missed the Natural Selection this year.
For sure… but I wasn’t so sad when I saw the snow conditions that they had in Andermatt. I actually broke my rib riding snow like that in Chamonix. It was just rock hard everywhere in Europe.

It’s actually pretty crazy. I think this is the first time I’ve heard of you being injured.
It’s true, I’ve been lucky so far. I’ve never had a surgery and I’ve never missed a season. But for sure I fall, just like everyone. But I’ve mostly had to deal with stuff like pretty serious bone bruises and back issues that last longer than they should. So it’s more like that kind of injury, where you’re not out, but you’re dealing with pain.

I guess it’s nice having other interests, like painting, that aren’t so hard on your body. When did you find the time to work on your latest collection?
I started painting straight after I finished my season. So I flew back from Seattle on May 3rd, and on the 4th I was already painting. That was my full focus until last night.

So the whole collection that we’re seeing here is new work?
Yes. I made 10 new pieces in May.

Holy shit. You’ve been productive! Is that the way that you like to do things? Full emersion into snowboarding for a few months and then it’s full emersion into art?
That’s a good question… I’m not sure, but I must say that for now my focus is still snowboarding, and it will still be like that for the next few years. And when I’m snowboarding, it doesn’t leave me much free time to work on other projects.

But when I’m traveling, I always keep notes of ideas or feelings that I have, and that can turn into inspiration for art when I get back home. I like to draw, but at the moment I really prefer to express myself with colors and brushes and larger surfaces. So it has to wait until I have the right space for that.

Do you have a studio in Chamonix?
I have a mini room at home. If I used it all year it wouldn’t be the most efficient place, but for a month it’s totally fine. But I’d love to get a studio some day. It’s my dream. I think you can get so much inspiration from your environment.

I think there are lots of other artists in Chamonix looking for something, but it’s just super expensive there with all of the tourism. If I could share a common space with some other artists it would be the dream.

Creative Spaces. © Aline Roy

Did you ever study art?
I’ve never studied anything properly because of snowboarding. The timing just doesn’t work. I mean, online would be possible, but that’s not what I’m looking for.

When I was younger I wanted to be a landscape designer. I still like the idea of nature mixed with design and the challenge of integrating it into cities. But now the time for that has passed. For sure the art that I’m doing is a bit sloppy and quick, but I still consider it a continuing self-education.

You use acrylics, right?
Exactly. It’s the easiest. And I like the colors. Maybe they’re not quite as incredible as what I could get with oil paints, but I’m happy with it. But I’d like to try to do more with oils… maybe that’ll be another project for later this year.

Nice, I’d like to see that. I love the textures that you can get with oil paints. But I’m already a big fan of this collection. How did the clothing line with Volcom come about?
Thanks so much! I’m happy with it too. For Volcom, it was organized by our friend Helene, who takes care of the designs. She always asks all of the team to send her our drawings, and she’s really open to everything. We can send as much as we want. So if it’s not too bad, there’s a high chance of having a design on a t-shirt a year or two later.

So I sent a bunch of ideas and they were like, “Oh wait, we’re not gonna do a shirt, we’re going to do a whole collection. And not with you as a snowboarder, but with you as an artist!” It was so sick. It was the first time for me to do something like this…

But you also had the Capita boards and the Vans collection…
Ah that’s true, and I also did the Tidal art show in Laax. But still, this is on a new level and it was such a good surprise. I really want to keep this going.

Well, I think it makes sense and really fits Volcom well. They’ve got so much history with guys like Jamie and Guch… and even Ozzy Wright in surfing.
Those guys are the reason why I’m doing this. Full on. I don’t come from a creative family, even though they are really open to art. So I grew up with music and cinema and wasn’t in the museums at all. So for me to try to paint something was totally foreign. If I’d never met Ozzy and the other guys I would’ve never dared to touch a paint brush and thanks to them I started slowly. And just like lots of things in life, all that it takes is to just do it.

True. And the great thing about art is that there are no rules.
Yeah, but you can see that I haven’t studied. There’s no shadows. There’s no perspective. I just play around and something comes out.

Mostly animals… haha.
True. I started painting when I was living in Berlin about five years ago. And I developed this theme around human’s domination of nature and the animals. In one way the animals could be a symbol of a god, or something… and in another way, we just kill them and eat them. So it’s something I like to show with humans in opposition to nature. So that’s very generally my theme, and I think it gives the art a deeper meaning.

It’s just really fun to step outside of reality and play with colors and creatures that may not have ever existed. I mean, maybe there already was a horse with five legs one day, but now there’s one in my painting… haha.

But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m just super inspired by nature. In the middle of May I took six days off in Greece and we were diving and saw this whole other world under water. It’s just an endless source of creativity for me.

So in the next collection we’re going to see more fish?
For sure. I’m full of ideas.

Bruno Rivoire admiring some aquatic themed art.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about this collection before we wrap this up and join the party?
Well, to be honest, I ran out of time. Ideally I could have made all of these pieces a bit more connected with small details linking them together. But I knew that the time was limited, so I just allowed myself to go with whatever came out.

That’s just the way I work. I prepare a canvas and I don’t really know what will happen. I’ll start in one corner and just see what unfolds. Sometime I’ll have a few key words to guide me, but mostly it’s free of expectations. And sometimes it takes days. You can’t tell why, but you know that something is just not working and you have to find a key to unlock the finished painting. It could just be as simple as reversing a color, or adding, or removing an element. But I really love this process. Knowing that it’s just not there and working through it to unlock the finished painting.

It’s hard sometimes with art to know when something’s finished. I mean it’s that way for me…
Yeah, it can be hard to be sure, and sometimes you go too far and have to go back, but that’s also something that I love about painting with the layers.

I guess it can also be that way sometimes with snowboarding. Like, when do you ever feel like you’ve got enough shots? Somehow a video part could always be better.
True, but at least with snowboarding there’s the end of the season. I guess you could work on a painting forever. So it’s not really the same.

Yeah, but you’ve worked on multi-year projects, right?
Actually no. Landline was two years, but I only filmed with them during one season. And I prefer it that way. I’m not really into the idea of filming more than one year for a project. For me each winter looks different.

A day in the life of Arthur and Olivier.

Interesting. And I guess that works pretty well for you since you never get hurt.. haha.
So what’s next for you after this?
I’m planning to go to Tuscany in Italy with my girlfriend for one month and really take a break from everything. Just be present, and eat well, and do sports, and rest, and sleep. It’s important because after the season I usually crash a bit. Suddenly the pace is slower and everything get’s a bit more quiet. But I haven’t had that yet since the painting has been pretty intense. So now I just need to decompress before I go to New Zealand. And after that I’ll be painting again. I’ve got another exhibition coming up in October or November in Hossegor with Wasted Talent, and I want to have all new pieces for that. Maybe get into some prints and keep developing as an artist.

Sounds amazing! I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for you. Thanks for your time Arthur…

…and a big thanks to the crew from Tranzport and Volcom for having us, as well as Aline Roy who contributed images for this interview. If you can make it to Geneva before June 16th, you can shop Arthur’s new collection and see his latest work on display at Tranzport

Interview by Ahriel