Michel Verdu

Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist? 
When I was a child I spent hours watching cartoons or reading comics. I wanted to create my own drawings. At first I started copying what I saw, and little by little I started to use my imagination and create stories around my drawings. I even made a little comic book, obviously as a child I had no technique and everything was awful (ha ha) my only real tool was my imagination. I showed this comic book to my friends and family but they made me understand I needed more practice and I lost confidence in myself, I quit drawing during my teenage years. It was until I was 18 I decide to retake what I left behind and start to draw again against the odds, trying to always drawing something. I enrolled in an Animation School and realize I had some potential, thanks to the support of my teachers who convinced me to continue with this artistic career. 

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I went to an Animation School and I studied for two years learning the fundamentals, due to a budget problem I was forced to abandoned it. I spent the next few years learning things by my own, buying books, taking some online courses, workshops, and practicing. Learning basically everything I could. I also asked people with  stronger skills than me, leaving my fears behind, and asking for feedback, positive or negative, always searching for ways to improve my art.

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I was lucky to always been supported by my family. It’s funny because in some occasions I always expected them to convinced me for other career options, but I think they trusted me. My wife was a essential part of the process, she is an illustrator too, she always puts me on the right way and supported me since the very
beginning. She’s my strongest pillar.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
At the beginning I was very influenced by movies and cartoons: Disney movies, Pixar, and tv shows like Invader Zim, Dexter’s lab, Powerpuff girls were my strongest references. I always had a fascination for the cartoon style. I also started to watch the artworks of artists like Mike Henry, Brett Bean, Shane Glines, Scotty Young and Creature box to give some names. Seeing their work made me realized I wanted to be like them and have a unique style.   

Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
Yes of course! I love to draw creatures and monsters always in a funny and cartoonish way, they could be cute little monsters or alien villains! 

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
There’s no fancy process =). Nowadays I do everything digital when it’s work, sometimes traditional when I make my personal stuff. I use a Wacom Cintiq 13 HD, Sketchbook Pro for sketching and clean up and finally put  the color and effects in Adobe Photoshop.

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The easy part I will say it’s the coloring process, it’s where the magic begins! It’s the intuitive part of the process trying to explore different things, color and lighting gives life to this characters. I believe the hardest but most important part of the process is the sketching, it’s where the brain exercises. Finding references, doing a lot of proposals, mixing things to achieve a good concept. I think the design part is the most important thing. The fancy colors, textures and effects will not safe a bad design!

What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
I’ve learn a lot of things! It’s important to be an active artist and always work on something and practising a lot. You always need to have personal projects on the future. Don’t be afraid of showing your work, searching for constructive feedback was something that made me grow up as an artist and not only searching for likes or  followers. I learnt not to be an arrogant fool who pretended to know everything. I also learnt to find inspiration everywhere and help other people to grow up and become better. 

Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
Yes. I recently made a Viking for the Character Design Challenge page, I received more feedback and likes than ever before. The funny part was that I did it very quickly and intuitively. Suddenly It worked very well I think!

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
My most beloved dream is to stay as a freelance artist and work in a variety of big productions like animated films or maybe video-games. I love to give the public a great story they can enjoy.

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
Well it’s difficult to say I will not say one option is better than other. I think It depends on the circumstances and the person. I worked in both ways, but for me freelancing suited me. Working as a freelance gave me the chance to work for different projects with different ideas. Financially it’s harder to always search for clients and promote my work, but I think it’s great when a client really trusts you and gives you creative freedom for their projects. It’s worth it.

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
My honest advice is trust your instincts. When I was young and had the same problem ‘cause there’s a lot of paths to follow. We must accept the fact that we can love everything in an artistic career, comics, movies, animation, concept art, etc. But we are not almighty and do everything. We can’t be Leonardo da Vinci, ha ha. I think you should ask yourself this questions: what are my strongest skills? what are my flaws, what can I do to become a better artist? What kind of style I love the most? What kind of industry I want to work with? The answers will clear your mind. It’s always important be open to opportunities there’s nothing written or pre- established for you.

Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
I think it’s important to show flexibility and variety as well a good spectrum of skills and styles, but consistency is what makes your style different from the rest, your personal signature. It’s important to show you are capable of mixing styles to achieve something new and always distinguishable. 

What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
Being an artist has always been difficult, now more than ever, I think.You must assume the challenges and conditions of this career like being “good”, getting noticed, have a style that suits clients, not too common, not too out of the box is very hard.  It’s a matter of time, patience, dedication, hard work, managing moments of  great frustration and joy. This career is a roller coster. But don't be afraid! This career is difficult as any other career you choose. If you have the passion, imagination and a hard will for working, it will all be worth it!

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
There’s a lot of people who inspires me: Mike Henry, Ryan Hall, Scottie Young, Brett Bean, Shane Glines, Creature Box, Alberto Ruiz, Didier Crisse, Allesandro Barbucci, Otto Schmidt, Emily Decrock, Martin Abel, Stephen Silver, Daniel Arriaga, Carlos Grangel, Francisco Herrera and many other artists. I love and admire each one of them, they have a common cartoon-comic style that in a way help me get my own style. 

Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
I think is great! More and more artists are rising with new styles and tendencies, and as an artist we can work with people around the world and not just limit ourselves to a local market. New medias have opened new markets and opportunities for all art careers. Artists have gained more exposure in the social media and websites, also this exposure have made us more competitive so people can lay their eyes on us, so we improve our work.One negative point of this that some people get obsessed with the attention, the likes, the followers in the different social network and make poor quality works. I know a lot of people who are tormented by this. We forgot sometimes that the important thing is to make good quality things no matter if we get recognition. If our work is good people will recognize it, if not we just need to keep practising! =)

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can check out my personal portfolio on Behance ( behance.net/MichelVerdu ) and Artstation ( artstation.com/artist/michelverdu ). Follow me on Instagram ( instagram.com/michel_verdu_art ) and Tumblr ( michel-verdu-art.tumblr.com ) for sketches and doodles. Ask me anything! ( facebook.com/guylain.verdu  / michelverduart@gmail.com )

Thank you Michel :)