Sylvain Gautier is a French artist from Toulouse, France. He discovered a passion for woodworking in his father's workshop as a child. After freelance graphic design work, a transformative encounter with humpback whales in French Polynesia sparked a shift in his artistic career. In 2018, he pursued cabinetmaking studies and created his first whale automaton inspired by his experiences. Joining the National Opera of Toulouse in 2020, he delved into prop making, cultivating a fascination for performing arts backstage. Sylvain's woodcarving predominantly features marine themes, reflecting his deep connection to the ocean. He actively documents his creative process through videos and photos shared online. His work, diving practice, and advocacy for various organizations reflect his dedication to preserving and safeguarding the ocean's biodiversity.
"Hydra" - the Hammerhead shark.
Finished shot of "Hydra" carved in Ash Wood.
Sylvain, enthusiastic about sharing his creative process, showcases his precise eye and aesthetic sensibility.
Whales, in situ.
This kinetic sculpture is named after the albino humpback whale often seen on the coasts of Australia.
Crafted out of basswood, walnut wood, acacia wood, brass, steel.
How did you start working with wood?
My initial studies were in design, and I worked as a freelance graphic designer for a long time before taking a break to travel for a few years. Visiting Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, and other countries, I experienced the joy of stepping away from the computer screen. Returning to France, I faced challenges in resuming my work.
As a child, I helped my father create various wooden objects in his workshop, planting the seed for my interest. At 33, I transitioned to a career as a cabinetmaker, learning from an experienced craftsman who imparted woodworking fundamentals. That same year, I self-taught woodcarving.
Although I haven't entirely abandoned my graphic design skills, I now apply them to fuel my newfound passion.
What inspires your creations?
My encounter with a humpback whale and her calf in Polynesia was pivotal. Since then, my obsession with the ocean and its inhabitants drives my work. I admire their graceful underwater movements, often attempting to replicate this in my sculptures, though it's quite a challenging task that occasionally frustrates me.
What advice would you give your younger self starting your artistic journey?
I'd hesitate to alter anything, fearing the butterfly effect might change my current path. Yet, the best advice I'd offer is the significance of properly securing your piece of wood, which is half the battle. Oh, and I'd warn against playing football in a field full of cows - a very bad idea!
What is your favorite Arbortech tool and why?
I can't say yet, but I suspect it will be the Mini Carver.
To learn more about Sylvian and his craft, vist:
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