A studio visit with Thomas Mailaender

photographs by David Luraschi

Where is your studio exactly and how long have you been working there?
I have two places in which I work. One is my office in the 18th area in Paris. Actually it’s more a man’s cave, where I spent a lot of time on the internet searching for things to collect, mostly erotic stuff and militaria.
The other one where I’ve invited you today is located in Asnieres just outside of Paris. It’s a 4000 square meter ex printer factory that I share with 16 others artists.
The place is named SIRA like the printer that left the building, and it’s run by Anatole Maggiar of Mad Agency who created the place as a phalanstery for Art.

What are the pros and cons of your studio?
I consider this place a playground. It’s huge with an outside and a rooftop. Absolutely everything is possible here since the building is located in a industrial area. Last year for a project, I shot with a automatic riffle in the basement and no one came to disturb me while I was working. That’s a real benefit. I recently built a 12 x 2 meters pond in the dark to produce the biggest cyanotype of the world. Square meters matters! Another good advantage of this place is that we can share and exchange skills with other artists. My studio mate Antoine Daniel is a wood specialist. We help each other with what we know how to do best. If I had to find a bad side of this place I’d say that in winter, it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

How many hours do you usually spend there per week?
It really depends on the shows and production of new pieces and shooting for commercial works. I share my time between this place and my office. Right now I do a lot of ceramic so I am quite often here playing with mud. Next month I’ll be away in Belgium for an exhibition.

Do you have your own daily routine within the studio? For example, do you usually start by answering your emails then get to work etc?
Whenever I’ll arrive at my studio, I’ll spend about one hour reading some books to get inspiration. I am not very much into high literature, I mostly go for “do it yourself books” like the great “how to become a professional stuntman in one week” that I just finished. I am also a big reader of stuff like the Guiness books, erotic magazines, hunting or fishing manuals. After this kind of brain food I usually feel like I could be the king of the world and that’s the good moment for me to really start working. The rest of the day never becomes a routine, I try not to repeat things in my professional life. I use that space to shoot personal projects, do sculpture or installation as well as producing some commercial photography as well, like advertisement or industrial product. Every day is a different day.

Are there things you deliberately forbid yourself to do/have within the studio in order to be more productive?
My studio is a men-only territory. Of course sometime we are open to welcome some women like for example when we need some female models for a shooting or when a female curator wants to see some new works.
But I try to limit as much as possible the feminine presence in order not to lose focus on my work.
Alcohol is also a trap which I try hard no to fall in. Although it happens that on special occasions I get drunk with my assistant or friends stopping by, I am sober most of the time in my studio.

Do you sometimes wish you had your own studio? What are the pros and cons of sharing your workspace with other people?
The space we’ve got here is big enough for me to sometimes get lost in it. Some days, I hardly see a human being since I am totally into my work.
So I can’t say that sharing a workspace here can be bothering. Artist life can sometimes be a bit lonely and since I don’t have a pet, it’s good to know that you have studio mates to hug.

What is your favorite track to edit photos to?

for more of Thomas’ work, please visit www.thomasmailaender.com

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