Frédéric Forest interview

November 28, 2016 11:00 AM

Do you remember when you were a kid, nearly spending the entirety of your days drawing? This, too, is how it began for French artist Frédéric Forest, but unlike many of us who stopped, he did not. From his humble beginnings selling drawings in the streets of New York, Forest has now reached the level of Instagram sensation with more than 63K followers, as well as accomplishing a plethora of exciting and inspiring things in between! He has worked for big-name brands, such as Cartier and Adidas, collaborated with world famous designers, and more recently has created his own design studio with Clementine Giaconia. The love of shapes and lines seems to be the common thread that pushes Frédéric further, uniting his work and private life in the harmony of art that he creates. Now, Forest shares simple, yet seductive drawings to his ever-growing fan base. 

In this fascinating artist profile, TWELV asked Frédéric Forest about his work, his passion, and his inspiration.


Tell us a little bit about yourself – where are you from?

I grew up in Annecy, French Alps. I've spent my time for skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding and drawing.


What is your old oldest memory involving art?

Art is like beauty, it is in the eyes of the viewer… and my first eye-catching memory on art was the Brancusi exhibition in Paris, summer 1995.


What brought you to do illustration and design professionally?

I always wanted to do and desired to do this job : product design. Because it was not about drawing for myself but for a project, for something larger. So, I graduated from ENSCI/Les Ateliers in Paris. While still a student there, I worked alongside the leather consultant Jocelyne Imbert on projects for Cartier leathergoods. Then, I left France for Italy and the Adidas Advanced Design Studio in Montebelluna, where I designed for the brand’s high-end sports shoes range. For international luxury firms, I used my approach for brand image, visual identity and product design. In 2008, after various experiences working with designers Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance and Jean-Marie Massaud on product and space design projects with a high technological and artistic content, I set up with Clémentine Giaconia our own design studio, FRST.I've never looked for a professional life with my drawings. Instagram has cut a new part in my life, and made my drawings evolved so far. Like everyone else, I started drawing before writing. I have not stopped there, I love that. Drawing is always part of design job, but aside that, during the evenings, I did it just for me according to my mood : fashion illustrations, children books, storyboards or a graphic novel. Just draw and think about something else. That was very personal and now the drawings are sent worldwide… Maybe, this is because they are personal at first. This is also why I don't sell all of them.


What is your most memorable moment as an artist?

I've been in NYC in summer 2001, for writing my graduation essay. No money. So, I've decided to sell drawings in the street, 5th Av. Some fashion illustrations. There were few other students like me. It was cool but it was my first day and I was quite anxious. I was there for two hours and then, a guy, black, tall, was walking fast, he passed by me, followed his way and suddenly stopped. On his way back, he pointed one of my drawings, a black man dancing or jumping. He screamed "Who made this drawing ?". "Well, it's me…" He looked at me, right on the eyes and said : "This is my son, he is a model". And it was absolutely right, I've drawn this one from a serie in a magazine.


What inspires you?

Inspiration is a result of random moments running in my head and stealing everything I see. These moments could be everything, a smell, a sound, someone who you cross in the street, a cloth or its detail... My influences are around the edges, in photography, fashion, gastronomy, music, typography, dance, poetry, colour and light : the 1967 E-type Jaguar, the Malaparthe's villa, the villa Cavrois, the architects Frank Lloyd-Wright, Carlo Scarpa, Auguste Rodin, Tilda Swinton, the choreographers Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, Angelin Preljocaj, Pierre Hardy, Radiohead, Haruki Murakami, Moebius, Katsuhiro Otomo, riders Nicolas Müller, Pedro Barros or Candide Thovex, the photographers Robert Mapplethorpe, Zoé Ghertner, Paolo Roversi, and Maud Rémy-Lonvis…. They enable me to express new feelings and suggest new stories, whatever the scale of the project.


As a designer, what is your relationship to objects?

My first relation with objects is their use, then can appears an affect. I love images and still life pictures, but I'm really careful about images of objects. A good-looking chair is useless if you can't stay on it for a dinner.


As an illustrator, do you consider subjects differently [from objects]?

Drawing stops on the paper. Paper is just a beginning on design.


What are your biggest projects, past and present?

A yacht.


On Instagram, your drawings are of female bodies or nature-related. Are you more attracted to these themes?

I grew up into a feminine family, with a mother, sisters, aunts, grandmothers. I draw women like they are, not like I would like them to be. But I draw males too.About nature, I was born in the French Alps, surrounded by mountains falling in a clear blue lake. I spent three days per week on skiing during the winter season and diving in the lake or go surfing in the Atlantic Ocean during the summer. Nature has always been my landscape. I like the forms of nature, perfect curves, colors, perfumes. I was born into. It's a viral emotion. I have a very physical link with mountains and water. And that's the same with paper. The years make no difference.


How long does it takes you to draw one « etude »?

Drawing an "etude" doesn't take a very long time. But coming to draw one takes time. Find the right pose, the good light, the most important aspect of the image that I have in mind and the perfect tool. What is appearing on the paper is a second phase… And now, there is a whole process with scans, crop them, confirm them by bailiff, upgrade catalogs, answer requests, check payment, prepare packages, send them, track them…


In your mind, what is the major difference between drawing, illustration and design? Is there one?

The main thing is the number of persons that are involved. In a design project, from the client team, our design studio team, the partners, suppliers, retailers, etc… A design project is a casting process. Good client team means good brief, means good challenge, means good design. The opposite is mainly and too often right…In a drawing, I'm absolutely alone. All is coming from myself. It's like skiing or surfing. Whatever the wave is coming or the downhill is appearing, I'm going and let it flow. Alone.


Your drawings are minimalist, and the thin lines are kept to a bare essential, just enough to suggest an idea. What defines your style?

I draw when everyone is sleeping in the house, the smartphone is off, no email. So I don't use colors, because I can't see them very well. I do it simply with a black pen, fine or calligraphic, that depends on the mood, but it's without any precise subject and without expectation. Just draw and think about something else. I'm really focused on lines and shapes. I don't use any gum. Actually, I draw like I ski, or skateboard : catch the perfect line. Rarely, it comes at first, you have to repeat it again and again, and then, suddenly, it is there, it express all you were looking for. My hand is a filter, she has her own sensibility. I've to control her and let her flow, dance, follow her own way. It's a training game to find the right balance between control and pure instinct. It's all about control, "the encounter between control and uncontrollable" like said Richard Avedon.


What is the main difference between your work as an independent illustrator and your work as a design duet with Clémentine Giaconia at Studio FRST? Does the collaboration change your creative process?

We design duet. As woman with man, we cross our experiences and inspirations.Together we sign projects where the object and space form a whole, in a consistency of line and evidence materials. First we must surprise ourselves, otherwise others probably won’t be surprised by what we do. This is one of the advantages of working in tandem : good ideas grow by themselves and the bad ones disappear along the way.


How was the experience of co-founding your own studio?

Since we set up our design studio, we have worked across a wide range of disciplines, creating everything from furniture and household objects to commercial stores or private restaurant, yacht, jewelry and timepiece. Confendiality is our first concern. Never talking, never showing before the client agreement. They are mainly luxury houses with high-end knowledges and know-how. We are committed to respecting the charter of confidentiality of our customers every day.Meanwhile, we have created several pieces with our own signature for Hermès, Ligne Roset or Maison d'édition Christophe Delcourt. This part is growing a little more every day and we are glad of that.


Do you have any exciting future projects on the horizon?

Those that I don't know yet…









related posts

Early work “Cosmetic Celebration” Graphite on paper. 24 in x 23 in.

Pointillism revived: Rising artist Cairo Dwek connects the dots

Cairo Dwek left behind her life as a model in Los Angeles to pursue her aspiration of becoming a  fine artist.

July 08, 2023 12:29 PM  |  Art / Culture
Christopher Russell with two Zurich Vessels

Christopher Russell Interview: Beneath the essence of clay

Christopher Russell spent his youth in a small town outside Boston, Massachusetts. According to his kindergarten report card, he had an “unusual talent for art”.

March 24, 2023 10:54 AM  |  Art / Culture


ALL WHITE Summer SOIRÉE Party was held on June 25, 2022 and the night started out with the beautifully dressed guests.

July 21, 2022 7:05 PM  |  Art / Culture

American Ballet Theater Summer Gala

Spring/Summer of 2022 has seen a rushing return of events, dressing up, and the social calendar.

July 05, 2022 8:09 PM  |  Art / Culture

Elizaveta Litovka ‘Flowierdy’ footwear sculptures Interview

Naïve Beauty: Flowierdy

May 29, 2022 11:12 PM  |  Art / Culture

Support people in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s said in a tweet on February 24 that “Now, more than ever, we need concrete support.”

March 02, 2022 7:16 PM  |  Art / Culture
The Key in the Hand, 2015 Installation: old keys, old wooden boats, red wool Japan Pavilion, 56th International Art Exhibition— La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy Photo by Sunhi Mang © ARS, New York, 2020 and the artist


TWELV interviewed performance and installation artist Chiharu Shiota and discussed her personal and professional life, as well as her inspiration and what plans she has for the future. The COVID-...

August 29, 2020 5:06 PM  |  Art / Culture


OLAF BREUNING Interview is now available!


June 18, 2020 4:50 PM  |  Art / Culture


Standing before the images created by Ryan McGinley, one becomes entranced by the irresistible visions of freedom and joyous irreverence.

February 27, 2020 4:57 PM  |  Art / Culture


In Yayoi Kusama’s world, everything is a polka dot — the cosmos, the earth, the world, stars, the moon, and people.

November 19, 2019 8:30 PM  |  Art / Culture

Body Beautiful Exhibit Opening November 21st


A Group Show Curated by Indira Cesarine

OPENING RECEPTION: November 21, 2019

November 19, 2019 11:38 AM  |  Art / Culture


Gracie Ellison is a self-taught Portland based artist who focuses on canvassing portraits of grumpy and solemn faced women with use of patterns, textures and colour. She was drawn towards canvas...

October 15, 2019 11:40 PM  |  Art / Culture



September 17, 2019 9:23 PM  |  Art / Culture


Making History With The Aurora Collection

August 20, 2019 9:08 PM  |  Art / Culture


Ruvan Wijesooriya is a self-taught American Photographer, who began by starting a skateboard brand before moving to working with clients such as Vogue, Samsung and many in the nightlife...

August 20, 2019 3:35 PM  |  Art / Culture

FIAC 2019 Artistic programme

FIAC 2019: Artistic programme

July 13, 2019 6:00 PM  |  Art / Culture

INTERVIEW: Adriana Wynne French-American multidisciplinary artist

French-American multi-disciplinary artist studying a BFA degree at Parsons school of Design in Fine Arts and acquiring a minor in Museum and Curatorial Studies.


June 04, 2019 12:00 PM  |  Art / Culture

ZIP III Opening March 9th

Like it or hate it, we live in a fully connected digital world these days.

March 07, 2019 10:00 AM  |  Art / Culture


The name of contemporary American artist Fahren Feingold has become synonymous with fluid, feminine watercolours in her...

June 25, 2018 6:00 PM  |  Art / Culture
Lisa Ann Markuson. Photo: Karen Obrist.

Interview: Lisa Ann Markuson on Modernizing Haiku

The minimalism of Haiku poetry– it’s English form dictated simply by the syllabic pattern 5-7-5– allows this traditional Japanese verse to span languages, cultures and ages.

May 17, 2018 4:00 PM  |  Art / Culture
"Peacocks" by Rebecca Leveille, in "The End of Love"

Interview: Rebecca Leveille's Solo Exhibit "The End of Love"

Certain artists have captured the zeitgeist of a particular time and place in such a powerful way that history will forever be represented through their images.

May 04, 2018 12:00 PM  |  Art / Culture

Oussamah Ghandour’s Journey from Ad-Man to Painter

Do you remember that episode of Mad Men when Don Draper decides to quit the ad business and follow his true calling as a painter?

May 03, 2018 10:00 AM  |  Art / Culture
untitled / Polaroid #051

Jörgen Axelvall's "KÄR / LEK" Photo Exhibit in Tokyo

For Jörgen Axelvall, photography is a language.

April 10, 2018 3:00 PM  |  Art / Culture
The Inception of Life. Roby Dwi Antono, 2018.

Interview: Illustrator Roby Dwi Antono on his Startling Surrealist Imagery

In a single painting, Indonesian artist Roby Dwi Antono combines a breastfeeding lamb, a kiwi bird, power ranger, crocodile, and a child.

March 05, 2018 9:00 AM  |  Art / Culture
Bettina Werner's hand creating on a texturized salt crystal surface.

Interview: Bettina Werner's Pioneering Use of Salt in Art

Being an artist isn’t just a matter of creating paintings or sculptures in a particular medium, it’s about making your mark on history.

February 13, 2018 5:00 PM  |  Art / Culture
Donald Trump with Miss Mexico, Alison Jackson. The Untitled Space.

"One Year of Resistance" Recalls an Unsettling Year Under President Trump

During President Trump’s inauguration week, curator Indira Cesarine hosted a group art exhibition entitled Uprise / Angry Women in response to the election.

January 17, 2018 5:00 PM  |  Art / Culture

Artist-Activist Francesca Galliani Brings Her Messages of Empowerment to Fashion

Modern day social activism can be found and utilized everywhere from social media to organized protests.

December 08, 2017 5:00 PM  |  Art / Culture
Misha Kahn with "Scrappy Grand." Photo: Dan Kukla.


Artist Misha Kahn lives in a world free of right angles.

December 08, 2017 4:00 PM  |  Art / Culture

Interview: Lin Dai, CEO of Hooch, the Game-changer Drinking App

Hooch is here just in time for the holidays! The Hooch app is the first-of-its-kind, subscription-based drinking app, offering customers 30 free drinks a month for just 10 dollars.

December 06, 2017 3:00 PM  |  Art / Culture

Chrome Hearts Miami Transformed into Candy Shop and Gallery for Art Basel

Chrome Hearts is celebrating Art Basel at their Miami retail space with a pop-up confectionary and café, alongside the launch of group exhibition in their second floor gallery. The...

December 06, 2017 1:00 PM  |  Art / Culture
no. 2 from "Only You" by Indira Cesarine

Indira Cesarine's "Only You" Art Series Visualizes Emotions after Betrayal

New-York based artist Indira Cesarine premiered the video format of her art series “Only You” at Art Basel Miami in 2010...

November 17, 2017 4:00 PM  |  Art / Culture

Chappy's "Dress the D" Halloween Campaign Promoting Safe Sex

The new-on-the-scene dating app Chappy has gained recognition for its mission and success in producing more meaningful...

October 31, 2017 4:00 PM  |  Art / Culture
Ashley Judd. Photo: Chiaki Kato

Ashley Judd & Gloria Steinem Address Human Trafficking at Apne Aap Benefit

The award-winning actress Ashley Judd, luminous in a bisque maxi-dress, was feted at a Manhattan soiree on Thursday night.

October 02, 2017 2:00 PM  |  Art / Culture
Yayoi Kusama. ©YAYOI KUSAMA

Yayoi Kusama to Open Namesake Museum in Tokyo

On your mark, get set, go! Yayoi Kusama enthusiasts will be delighted to know that tickets to the venerated Japanese artist’s namesake museum go on sale August 28.

August 24, 2017 5:00 PM  |  Art / Culture

Just Cavalli Restaurant & Club Opening in Porto Cervo

From the brand that fully embraces the bold and vibrant Dolce Vita lifestyle, now comes the ultimate nightlife experience. On July 14th, the...

July 17, 2017 10:00 AM  |  Art / Culture

The witty pop art of Alessio Franceschetto

Minimal, quirky and straight to the point, all uniquely describe the work of artist Alessio Franceschetto, a superhero of graphic art.

June 01, 2017 3:00 PM  |  Art / Culture


SITE BY: monocomplex©Marbles & Marbles International Inc. Drupal Development by: DivDiv, NYC
▲ back to top ▲