The French artist and tufting master who unleashes energy and sublimates motorcycles in his rugs

Working with wool is very different than painting. Every time you live a unique tactile experience. Wool gives you unparalleled sensations and tones, and the pieces I create always feel magical to me. I feel more like a craftsman than an artist, I love to explore new techniques and challenge myself. That’s how I became a rug designer, browsing through some YouTube videos and discovering the tufting technique, which has never left me since…”

The first term that can be associated with Tommy Lhomme’s thought and artistic philosophy is energy: an irrepressible, disruptive, vibrant energy. For this artist, or rather, craftsman from France who likes to define himself as a navigator transported by the waves of art, design and objects, there are no ruptures between past and future, but virtuous compromises: meeting points from which an atypical creative experimentation springs, where painting and wool, nostalgia and progress, figures and materials continue to mix and coexist, releasing unusual vibrations.

“I didn’t really receive an art education. I grew up in Marseille, an extremely creative city, doing graffiti and exploring photography. I liked to visit the most marginal areas of the city and portray the places and people that populated them. After leaving an art school in Paris I turned to painting, but that wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to try something new, so I discovered tufting and worked on my first rugs. The process is dual, it is both digital and physical. Initially I work on the computer, using Paint and PhotoShop a lot, letting myself be inspired by everything around me: I’m talking about thousands of personal photo files, as well as Kandinsky paintings, but also street signs and much more… The compositions are potentially endless. Then the object takes shape in front of my eyes, and when the idea becomes reality, I feel an incredible joy.”

The world is my sketchbook, Tommy declares in his bio. And in this sketchbook the sports element also finds a privileged place. Motor imagery is in fact one of the most followed strands of the Marseille native’s artistic vein. Stylized wheelies and dirt bike silhouettes find space on his wool paintings as iconic images, as symbolic elements that transcend the sporting act in order to become metaphorical expressions.

“As a good Marseillean, I am passionate about soccer and OM, but I also got to know the local skate scene closely. The love for motorcycles came when I was 14 years old. On two wheels I enjoyed riding around the city and doing stunts here and there. I think the motorcycle image is very strong: it embodies the idea of freedom, the spirit that is intrinsic to every rider…. From an artistic point of view, it gives me the constant opportunity to find common ground between the abstract and the figurative, it allows me to achieve a perfect balance. I have noticed that this vision of the motorcycle-element is shared by many other people. Almost everyone who has bought my themed works is not a rider or fanatic, some even own a motorcycle: they all simply like what it represents.”

Visual design, technique and aesthetic power. Tommy Lhomme’s artistic research is based on these pillars: an artist-craftsman or craftsman-artist (you decide) who gives free rein to creativity with the sole purpose of transforming his energy into shapes and colors, into concreteness and tangibility, without desiring fame or recognition. “I have long wondered how to do art,” he tells us at the end of our chat, “Then I understood that ‘do’ was the most important thing.”

Credits: Tommy Lhomme
Text by Gianmarco Pacione