Beau Patrick Coulon is a Los Angeles based visual artist specializing in photography, videography, and print making. His photography has been centered around his life of traveling by train and thumb, with a focus on portraits of the people he has met on his way. When viewing his photographs, you get to admire the adventurousness of someone who can just pick up and go. He’s traveled from coast to coast by train and continues to journey around the globe documenting what he sees. Coulon has his first Los Angeles solo show, “Marginal Transience” and new zine release this Thursday at Nomad Art Studio and it’s definitely a show you do not want to miss. We recently had the chance to do an interview with Coulon and his answers left us feeling like we almost knew him and wanted to be there with him traveling around the world.
Can you tell us what your name or alias is?
My name is Beau Patrick Coulon. A lot of friends from back in the day call me Patrick. When I ran away at 13 I started using my middle name to throw off cops and truancy officers that used to come looking for me down on the boulevard and around the drop in centers. They’d ask other street kids if they knew “Beau” and no one could honestly say they did. I suppose I could’ve made up a more imaginative alias, but then again, I didn’t want to end up stuck with a bugged out handle like some of the punx I ran with. But yeah, my family and most people call me Beau.
Where are you from?
All over, but I’ve spent more time in Los Angeles than anywhere else. I was born here, in one of those funky 60’s style apartment buildings a couple blocks off of Hollywood Blvd. It had Palm Trees out front and smelled like piss when you walked in the lobby. When I was 7 I moved to Oklahoma with my dad. I bounced back and forth between my mom’s in Hollywood and my dad’s until I was a teenager. Most of my formative years were spent squatting in various cities and traveling all around the country: Montana, New York, Louisiana, Oregon – you name it and I probably lived there for a time.
Can you tell us about your show coming up at Nomad Gallery?
It’s called Marginal Transience and the opening reception is Thursday from 7pm til 10pm at Nomad Art Compound in Frogtown (1993 Blake Ave. LA CA 90039). The show is kind of a low fidelity take on fine art photography, with a heavy sprinkling of street photography thrown in the mix. Mostly it’s stuff I feel connected to personally – alleyways, rail yards, punx, street people, etc. Also, it’s a party to celebrate the release of my new photo-zine of the same name. I’m so excited to be doing my first solo LA exhibit at Nomad because I’ve been involved with that space for several years on a number of other creative projects. Damon Robinson who started Nomad has been greatly encouraging and supportive to me and countless other artists over the years. Anyway, it should be a fun night, y’all should come kick it.
What were your first experiences with photography?
I have 9 brothers and sisters. Growing up, my mom had these massive photo albums extensively chronicling her family’s and her kids’ lives. In a way I was drawn toward documenting my life & experiences through those photo albums. Initially I wanted to focus on writing but I lacked the necessary discipline, I don’t know, it just seemed natural to pick up a camera. In my opinion, the camera is the lazy person’s typewriter. I spent more than 10 years photographing friends’ and my own experiences in the punk scene, living on the street, and traveling around the country by thumb & freight. Tragically, I lost all the photos and negatives when the car I was living out of got jacked by the city of San Francisco about 12 years ago. That experience, and a growing drug problem at the time, kind of killed photography for me for a long while. It’s been fairly recently, maybe 3 years now, since I decided to pick up the camera again.
What inspires your point of view?
Inspiration is everywhere but I’m very much drawn toward the transient nature of beauty & happiness. I’m interested in maintaining a connection with the often disregarded places and people you’ll see when looking in the cracks of the American dream. I guess my point of view is informed from a lot of time spent living on the road and being involved in the anarcho/diy/punk scene.
What’s the furthest you have traveled by train? Longest trip?
I’ve gone coast to coast numerous times, which is about as far as you can go by freight without leaving the country. I don’t know what the longest was, it’s all the same trip to me and it hasn’t ended yet.
If you had to choose one camera to use forever which would it be?
Honestly, I’d probably choose an unlimited supply of disposable cameras if it wasn’t for all the plastic waste it would create. Those are the most fun cameras for me. you can take em into the pit, a riot, on a rusty ass bucket ride to nowhere, it doesn’t matter, you’re bound to catch some cool shots. Second choice would probably be my 35mm Canon AE-1 SLR. It’s light and simple and I don’t feel precious about it. Really nice camera gear is too scarce and expensive for me to enjoy using much.
Do you have a favorite film?
Lately I’ve been using a lot of 35mm Portra, Velvia, 400tx, or Fomapan, but I like experimenting with all kinds of film.
Are there any other mediums you work with or would like to besides photography?
Yup, I do filming stuff from time to time, music videos and whatnot, and I love printmaking.
Is Los Angeles your favorite place to be?
LA rules but truthfully I don’t have a favorite place to be. Not right now anyway. I feel the most at ease, the most grounded, when I’m moving.
Where do you get your favorite tacos from?
Kevin’s Tacos in Frogtown! It’s across the street from Nomad. Lalo hooks it up on his porch Thurs – Sun from about 6 to 10. Straight up no frills home cooked tacos for $1. His al pastor rules the wasteland of my stomach with an iron fist.