Shirley Xu Interviews Patrick Gaouyat

Translated from French by Shirley Xu.
For the French version, click here.

Shirley Xu:  You have mentioned that you lack the space to do traditional art. Are you considering starting traditional art again when you he the opportunity?

Patrick Gaouyat: Yes, absolutely! There is a very instinctive aspect in traditional art that I can’t find in digital art. The feel of the materials, the smells- these are things that aren’t found in a computer.

From a practical point of view, I appreciate having a visible piece of art in my presence. It’s a constant call to work. With a computer, it is easy to save works in progress in a folder at the bottom of your hard drive, and thus easy to forget them.

SX: I see that you spent some time in the army. Has this affected you in any way?

PG: Well, I must point out that for people of my generation, service in the army was required and lasted 10 months. I didn’t enlist myself in the army; I simply did my time to serve my country. Did it affect me? Probably, because it still remains a rather unique experience; you find yourself far from your home, in the middle of strangers without having been able to choose the destination, and you spend the first few days making yourself shout louder without knowing why. If the first contact had been difficult, the rest was much more calm; the routine settled in to the point where I’m simply doing more desk work.

What I’ve kept from the army was, above all, the memories of situations and of people that can’t be found elsewhere. But I don’t have the feeling of having been transformed by my time in the army.

SX: How much has changing technology (microscopes, computers, etc.) influenced your art?

PG: More than the army, that’s for sure!

I’ve grown up with the first computers and I’ve been able to see the evolution of the technology associated with them. The biggest change, however, came from the internet and the discovery of millions of artists via DeviantArt. It’s above all, at that moment, that the vision of the set of technological tools as artistic tools appeared for me.

For me, it often seems important to distinguish the domain of tools and the domain of creativity. A lot of people imagine that technological tools trump creativity, but that vision is biased by the marketing that selects and formats a majority of the images they can see. For me, someone who is used to technological tools, I don’t see machines as a limit to my creativity. It’s by numerical techniques that I came to work in styles that are very different, and I can no longer limit myself to a single style or single technique. With this view comes its opposite: you would rather try new techniques, only to lose yourself on the end. That’s where marketing does its job to make us believe that everything is simple, that machines have magical buttons to make magnificent things. But the reality is completely different: it’s necessary to work to master digital techniques, as with traditional ones.

Even if work is necessary with digital arts, they have a great feature in this way: a work is always modifiable whenever you want, and it’s easy to lose yourself in a work and end up never finishing it. In this regard, I’m still learning how to finally stop and move onto something else.

SX: I love how you show artistic beauty through the use of your microscopes! How much has your art affected the scientific community?

PG: The scientific community? Well, my contacts with it are limited because my laboratory work is solely dedicated to industry; we never publish to scientific papers. Therefore I would say that I have zero influence there.

However, I expect this to change in this regard because some of my images will be undoubtedly showcased by the maker of our microscope in the realm of commercial communications.


Patrick Gaouyat lives in Chartres, a small town in France well known for its cathedral. As an artist he works with several techniques: digital art (photomanipulation, digital painting, 3D, fractal), photography and micrography—which is something somewhere between photography and digital art.

Patrick is our cover artist for Grit by the Glass. You may view our art feature of his work “Micrographie” here.
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