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In Conversation With Fabrice Houdry

"Sorry for this late reply. I left for 1 week to the forest to draw and observe nature. I had no material of communication. Just my tent and pencils." - The French charm of Fabrice Houdry, evident even through emails. Lead Product Designer Todd tells us of his first meeting with Fabrice and asks him a few questions about his life as an artist in the French riverside city of Rouen. 

I met Fabrice and was introduced to Finisterre at the same time during a bike polo tournament in Rouen, Normandy in January 2012. A bunch of cool local guys were all wearing black Finisterre Cirrus jackets and I originally thought it must be a French brand.

I was soon informed Finisterre was actually a Cornish surf brand after my intrigue got the better of me. These guys are all bike and surf obsessed and would later go on to establish WAIT surf store in Paris. I spent an evening hanging out at their bike store, Guidoline, in Rouen and loved the scene they had created. Bikes, hand made trailers, and surf boards for trips along the Breton coast.

Fabrice really stood out to me. He had created the tournament poster and was clearly a talented illustrator. As I got to know him more I fell in love with his creative drawing style. We’d always catch up at bike polo tournaments across Europe yet it wasn’t until 2 years later that we truly connected to create Finisterre’s first Artist Series. 

The truth is, when I returned back to London from Rouen, I immediately checked out Finisterre and couldn’t believe what I’d found. The products, the ethos, the romance. Everything I believed in. I guess that was it for me. I set my sights on one day being a part of this company and a year and a half later I became Lead Product Designer.

And Fabrice was the first person I called upon to create (still my favourite) Artist tees.

How did you first come to hear of Finisterre?

I've known Finisterre since the spring of 2010 when I was searching the internet on surfing and the environment. I immediately liked the reasoned approach of Finisterre.

I'm friends with Luis David Nadjar with whom I play bike polo and talked of Finisterre with him. My first contact at Finisterre was Ernest Capbert, and then I worked with Todd. We played bike polo together and Todd is really a person that I love. I regret not speaking enough English to speak better with him. 

Music, art and film are so intrinsically weaved into the Finisterre subculture. What does this subculture mean to you and your work?

I prefer the words "alternative culture". I practise drawing by bringing my creations into new territories. I am part of a collective of artists "HSH CREW" and we work together with drawing, film and photography, to bring the audience into new and smiling experiences. I like the DIY approach.  

Known to travel with your family, boards in tow, do you still find time to submerge yourself in the art of surfing?

I still travel for surfing. I am leaving soon for the Atlantic coast with my young son with our bicycles. For 1 month we will pedal, surf, camp, and visit local shapers to observe and learn their work. In the evening, we'll draw in the light of our headlamp!

Who would you cite as key influencers on your work? How did you create your own style? 

There are so many creators who have fed me. Yesterday, I went to visit an exhibition of Picasso and on my way back I read an old underground comic book by Gary Panter.

As a child, I was collecting surf and skateboard stickers and spent hours redesigning them.

Having been the man behind our first ever artist series, bringing you in for the second instalment was an easy return for us. What is your creative process when designing for the likes of Finisterre?

I made the first design for Finisterre trying to find the simplest and fairest line. A hybrid composed of a surfer, surf and water with a same line. My new design speaks of the responsibility of the surfer in his environment. He has in his hand the elements in which it evolves and must protect it.

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