A coming of age tale between the creative nebulas of California and Biarritz.

A coming of age tale between the creative nebulas of California and Biarritz.

This story first ran in Huck 44: The Tommy Guerrero Issue.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late, or in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be,” reads an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote on the Tumblr of surfer, photographer, artist and adventurer Margaux Arramon-Tucoo.

The Fresh Area, as Margaux calls her melting-pot Tumblr, is a starry-eyed mix of influences and artefacts – from her own dreamy surf analogues and rainbow-coloured ink and mandala creations to the works of others including a book on Frida Kahlo and a video of Cat Power covering country supergroup The Highwaymen. It’s a perfect amalgam of Margaux’s character: one foot in the ocean, one foot in a paint pot.

“I discovered art when I was a kid and understood quickly that it was something fun and very important in life,” says Margaux, now twenty. “It keeps your mind out of mediocrity and helps you build your own ideas of things in society. For me art and surfing are linked because I first met real painters – ones that truly live off it and are known for what they make – when I started to travel to surf.”

Margaux was born in Biarritz – a beautiful Basque surf town situated on the coast between France and Spain – and started surfing at ten years old with her dad on late summer evenings. “Biarritz is a wonderful town to grow up in,” says Margaux. “You can walk everywhere so you gain independence very fast. I live as close to the ocean as I do to the city, so I’ve always done my thing and got to where I wanted to go.”

Biarritz may have provided freedom for the adventurous grom, but Margaux had to carve out her own path in the surf world and she found in longboarding a creative partner that suited her style. “I never grew up doing contests because I’ve always logged,” says Margaux, who currently rides a nine-foot-plus single-fin shaped by local crafstman Daniel Creignou. “Longboarding wasn’t the thing back then and I wouldn’t bother doing contests because I knew I wouldn’t feel satisfied or have fun… It’s so hard to explain how different it is to practice surfing as an athlete and to practice it as a lover… I just want to ride different types of boards in the waves I want, and to feel free to surf whenever.”

Her elegant prowess as a longboarder commanded attention in the water and artistically likeminded brands like RVCA, Raen Optics and Stance Socks were quick to support her, meaning she could focus on her surfing and painting full time. “There have always been artists in Biarritz, but they were more my parents generation,” she says. “Now I find that more and more young people move out here to enjoy the nice vibe in our city and a lot of them want to do things to bring Biarritz to a higher art level.”

The influx of talent has allowed Margaux to develop her work through collaborations and events like the recent collages she did with photographer Melanie Boardas Aubies – demure black-and-white portraits of pixie-like girls set against Margaux’s bold and kaleidoscopic patterns – and the La Palette pop-up gallery organised by skate artisan Clément Bouchonneau, aka ‘Woodiart’. “I am very intrigued by the artists of the Impressionist movement like Odilon Redon and Klimt,” says Margaux, who’s passionate about supporting the scene through events like Coco et Pablo, a three-day art meeting organised by her friend and named after Chanel and Picasso who were former Biarritz residents. “Ever since I started doodling and using water colours, I’ve been looking at all the Art Nouveau artists, too. And then all the bright and pastel colours from Latin America – I’m really into Frida Kahlo and Surrealism. Every day, I’m discovering how to make more colours with pigments and paints – it’s awesome. I always loved the innocence of a face on a painting and some crazy dream apparitions.”

Margaux’s work is influenced by her environment in an abstract and psychedelic way; you won’t see any surfers or waves depicted but her patterned rosettes and Matisse-esque portraits sometimes find life on natural materials like rocks and bark. “Often, when I travel, I don’t have anything with me other than pens. Wood is fun and can bring something great to a drawing, rocks mean memories and energy. I think I am still looking for the perfect medium.”

It’s this desire for new sights and experiences that is pushing Margaux further away from her bucolic roots and into the maker metropolis of California. “I started travelling alone when I was eighteen and I hung out with [longboard champion] Kassia Meador a lot for a few months every year,” says Margaux. “We had lots of talks and surfs and creative days and she introduced me to a bunch of cool cats from the creative side of surfing, the ones that want to change something or the ones that have never changed since they were groms at Malibu. People like Manny Caro from Mandala Surfboards have such a smart and thoughtful understanding of surfing and I learn every day when I hang out with people like him.”

Caught in that post-adolescent bloom of self-discovery and soul-searching, Margaux is throwing herself into any opportunities that come her way but wherever she ends up, crowned in curls with a classic log underarm, you can be sure she’s gonna have a mega impact. “I am still called a grom or ‘Little Margaux’ because I hang out with older people that make me grow and I could never thank them enough for the times they give me,” says Margaux. “My aspirations and dreams are closer than I thought they would be. And I get closer every day.”

Margaux is collaborating with another French artist Marynn for an exhibition La Petite Mort at Huck‘s 71a gallery launching tomorrow Thursday October 2 at 6.30pm through to Friday October 3.