Digital artist Laurent Allard takes childhood objects and places them in “dark, solemn environments”
His work remains “subtle, almost poetic” despite its somewhat grotesque subject matter, and there’s often a visual joke to be found if look long enough.
- Ruby Boddington
- 16 August 2021
Paris-based 3D art director and artist Laurent Allard has a very specific approach to his medium. “I like to start from the idea of making an object that already has an unusual nature and to associate it with another object of a different or even opposite nature, to create either a conflict or an interesting association,” he explains. In turn, his work is almost exclusively comprised of still lifes, usually set against a black backdrop with a metallic-like sheen coating everything. These aesthetic decisions give his work a certain aura, a mysterious nature that drew us in instantly.
Laurent first discovered 3D when he was tasked with making Snapchat filters for the company he was working for at the time. Consequently self-taught, he was drawn to the seemingly unlimited possibilities that the medium affords, although today his perspective is somewhat different. Rather than exploiting the otherworldly potentials of 3D, he “prefers to do simple things, quite modest or even trivial, but which would have been very complex to do in real life,” adding that he always focusses on the idea rather than the rendering of a work “which may seem counterintuitive.” In this sense, it’s clear Laurent is an artist with a singular vision; driven not by his medium but by his interests. On what those are, he says: “I like to create some kind of visual joke, or grotesque images while keeping something quite subtle, almost poetic. I also like to take objects from childhood (toys, candies, merry-go-rounds, balloons...) and put them in rather dark, solemn environments and to stage them with more symbolic objects.”
A recent commission of Laurent’s which is a testament to the fact was for Nike, made in collaboration with the agency Convoy. Manifesting as a triptych of images, each features a distinctive Nike shoe rendered as a chintzy teapot in Laurent’s signature gloss. “When I saw the brief with the teapot sneakers, I already knew that I would love to work on this project,” Laurent says, “that the unlikely mix of tea time with the street universe of Nike would allow me to make a series of images that would correspond to my work.” Working in this way – where he’s able to join a project and merge the universe or style of a brand with his own is Laurent’s favoured way of working, he continues: “I like to work on projects that have a defined framework, in which I intervene early on in the creative process, to take into account certain technical constraints, but also to take the project where someone else would not have taken it.” Learning something new is also important though, so he relishes the opportunity to work on projects where he’s forced to try something he wouldn’t normally attempt.
When working with artist Maoupa Mazzocchetti, Laurent was pushed out of his comfort zone but rather than it being a technical challenge, he was required to switch up his way of working. This was because Maoupa came to Laurent with several ideas already in place – “there was already a very precise artistic ambition in terms of music, it was necessary to visually transcribe the maximalist will of the artist,” he recalls. What’s more, many of the ideas were technically very complex to realise in 3D. This meant a process of negotiation and discovery needed to occur. The result is an album artwork centred on an image of a “magic glass pipe” with “repulsive things, like cockroaches or worms” rendered as gummy sweets, aiming to represent “reality through consumer objects” to leave “a strange impression” on anyone who views it. Once the artwork was complete, Laurent suggested they make a video clip for one of the tracks from the EP so he could further explore some ideas that didn’t make it into the album artwork. It’s a hectic three-minute short which, like the album artwork, is loaded with meaning and metaphor. “I really enjoyed working on this project, and it was my first experience in terms of video,” he says. “It’s an example of an artistic collaboration where each part feeds the other to give a radical and unexpected result.”
Having dipped his toes into moving image, Laurent is hungry to try more creative mediums including 3D printing. But he’s aware he needs to keep on top of the worlds of 3D and AR art too. “I would also like to start exhibiting my work more, and also see it printed,” he concludes. “Basically, seeing it more outside of a screen.”
Laurent Allard: Still lifes (Copyright © Laurent Allard, 2021)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.