Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in Brittany, in the western part of France. I remember that in kindergarten and primary school I wanted to be a comic book artist, because I was fascinated by the huge collection of Bande Dessinée (Franco-Belgian comics) of my parents, like Tintin, Spirou, Astérix, Corto Maltese, etc. Growing up, I kept my passion for drawing and I finally decided to make it my profession.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I went to Ecole Pivaut in Nantes for four years, where I've been studying animation. I've learned a lot: from the teachers, of course, but also from the other students and friends. The art school requires rigorous work and connects you with other artists, but you can't only lean on that, your own will to progress is essential and you have to train autonomously.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
My parents helped me a lot in my wish to go to art school, though they are both doctors and nobody in my family works in an artistic field. They convinced me to first get a scientific degree at the end of high school, because in France this degree is a master key to almost any advanced studies. By the time I was finishing high school, we discussed together the topic and I've reaffirmed that I wanted to attend art school. We agreed that I would study animation, because it brought together my passion for cinema, my passion for drawing, and a safer work perspective.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
My first influences were Franco-Belgian artists like Uderzo, Peyo or Franquin. Very young I was impressed by the movie "Le roi et l'oiseau" by Paul Grimault. Then I've discovered Japanese mangakas like Akira Toriyama and Katsuhiro Otomo at my local library, and my father took me to the cinema to see "Mononoke Hime" when I was 7 (in France it was open to all audiences), which made me discover Hayao Miyazaki. Also my grandparents had satellite television and I spent hours and hours watching Cartoon Network through my childhood. I loved cartoons like "Ed, Edd & Eddy", "Dexter's Laboratory", "Samurai Jack" and "Johnny Bravo".
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?
As a child, after reading "Les cercles du pouvoir" by Mézières and Christin, and watching "The Fifth Element" by Luc Besson, I used to always draw big cities with huge buildings and no visible ground. I still like to do that but now I'm mostly drawing monsters and robots. Why? Because robots are cool, monsters are cool and robots plus monsters equals ultimate coolness. Deal with it.
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I usually draw a sketch with paper and pencil before scanning it and colouring it with Photoshop. Then I add effects to make it look like it was printed on some old paper, #JustHipstersThings.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I really enjoy myself when I'm drawing, cleaning and colouring. But sometimes I get very confused when I have to find a convincing idea or sketch before starting the real drawing. And worst of all, I have troubles to determine at which point I'm done with it. It's very hard for me to say if my character/illustration/animation is complete. I stop when I see that what I'm doing adds nothing more.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I haven't worked on a lot of projects yet. I did an internship as flash animator on "Dofus : Aux trésors de Kerubim", a TV show by Ankama Studio. I've also worked as graphic designer on the facebook game "Voyage to Fantasy" by Ouat Entertainment and flash animator on the third season of "Les Crumpets" by 4.21 productions. As of now I am working with friends on "Prysm", a podcast about comic books, as a motion designer.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I've started to work on my spare time on a comic book called "The White Shadow", and I'm also making my own (poorly made) cartoons on my Youtube channel. My longterm career goal is to publish comics, develop my own (poorly made) cartoons and maybe one day direct a (poorly made) feature film... I also have more important goals in my life like succeeding in perfectly opening a beer with a lighter. Because seriously that's f***ing hard. How do they do it? I can't play it cool at parties because of that. My friends are all like "Hey Nico! Why don't you open your bottle?" and I'm like "It's ok man, I'm not thirsty yet". Jeez.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
When I have no inspiration I just stop drawing for a while (sometimes for months) and I observe everything around me: I read books and comics, I watch movies, I play video games, I go hiking, etc. I think it's just like looking for sleep: sometimes, the best way to find sleep is not to think about it. Maybe, just like you can't force yourself to sleep, you can't force yourself to be creative.
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?
In my opinion, that's not entirely true. It's commonly admitted that behind one name, there must be one easily recognizable style, but some people like Jean Giraud took many names and many styles: when he was working on Blueberry, he was Gir; and when he was working on the Incal, he was Moebius. In animation it's even a bonus if you show that you can draw and animate in various styles: it means you can adapt to the studio's needs. It's true that if you develop one style, you are more likely to master it and retain the people who like it. If you have no particular style, it becomes harder to always satisfy those following your work. People have their taste and won't love everything. Unless having no style is your own style, and maybe some folks will start to like it (#ThoseDamnHipstersAgain). My point is that even if there are good reasons to advise students to work in one consistent style, there are also ways to bypass it.
If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic book, graphic novel, children book, ''how to'' book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
This question is really hard! I can't have a definitive answer for that. But right now I think I'm going to say "The Grocery" volume 1 by Aurélien Ducoudray and Guillaume Singelin. Because even if it had some success, I think it deserves to be known by more people. I see this piece as a fusion of different styles from different countries. It's a French comic book with a lot of japanese influences in character design, and the scenario is overtly inspired from American TV shows like HBO's The Wire. In the first volume, we follow the arrival of a kid named Elliot in a poor district of Baltimore, in which his father wants to open a grocery. The story is crude and talks about drug deals, gang wars, neo-nazism, post traumatic shock. There is a lot of graphic violence in contrast with the pretty cute (and awesome) graphic style. I think this is one of the greatest innovative work these last years! At this time I don't know if it was translated in English... I hope so! And if I've chosen volume 1, it's because once you've read it, you won't resist to read the three others plus volume 0!
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
Today I'm really influenced by people like Guillaume Singelin, Christophe Blain, Jesse Jacobs, Tarmasz, Paul Robertson, Ulysse Malassagne, Alexandre Zedig Diboine... I'm a huge fan of TV series by Cartoon Network and Adult Swim shows like Adventure Time, Gumball, Steven Universe, Rick and Morty, Mr. Pickles, Superjail or the pilot of King Star King. I also follow the work of artists from my same school in Nantes: Ké Clero, Kristel, Pierre Hay, Deozworld and the artist collective "L'encre blanche", who made a comic book called "Katarakt" . And some friends of mine that inspire me like Martin Touzé and MickaZilla. Martin Touzé is infinite, Martin Touzé is immortal. Martin Touzé is above us all. Martin Touzé once looked at a herd of alpacas and made them all pregnants; even the males. Especially the males. MickaZilla once licked the cheek of a kid. He was pretty drunk.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
It seems to be less and less used for financial reasons. For example, today French TV shows mostly use 3D or 2D cut-out puppet animation, and Disney closed his traditional animation department in 2013. But to me it doesn't mean at all that this art form is over. It's less used than in the past, but it's not over. I've heard young art students saying that it is a kind of ancestor of 3D animation. I totally disagree with them. Hand drawn animation and 3D animation are different techniques, they don't convey the same sensations. It's a matter of taste. In Japan, traditional animation appears to be the most popular way to animate... and they aren't living in the past with some ancestor of modern animation. Studio 4°C uses hand drawn animation and they are one the most innovative and experimentative studio in the world! I can't predict the future, but I hope that one day Disney will reopen its traditional animation department... Anyway this art form is unlikely to disappear!
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?
New media bring visibility to a lot of artists, which helps starting or improving their career. I see more and more artists and friends using crowd funding to publish their first works. It's a good alternative to the classic way of finding editors and producers, some editors even tend to only publish artists that are already well-known on the internet. Maybe it's going to be harder in the future to have a career without having a lot of followers on social networks. It would be a new way to make a living out of art. Aurélien Ducoudray, the scenarist of The Grocery, got in touch with illustrator Guillaume Singelin after finding his Tumblr. With those media, more than artists connecting with fans, artists are connecting with artists. I hope that more and more artists from all around the world are going to work together thanks to these new ways of communication. By breaking the obstacles of distance, culture and language, they will all virtually hold their hands while they virtually run in slow-motion in a virtual beach. They will virtually laugh as the virtual wind blows in their virtual long hairs. The virtual sun will bathe them in a virtual heat and they will think "In this virtual world we are making the real one a better place".
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 follow me on Tumblr ( nicolasgendron.tumblr.com ) , on Facebook: ( facebook.com/Kafarnaum-Nicolas-Gendron ) and on my Youtube HERE. I didn't even start to think of selling creations but maybe one day I will! For the moment the best way to support my work is to encourage me on social medias and Youtube. Don't hesitate to contact me via these sites or at email@example.com!
Thank you Nicolas :)