Benjamin Guillon

Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I was born in Paris in 1992. I wanted to become mangaka since I was a teenager. Because my parents saw me drawing every day they decided to bring me to visit the Gobelins School in Paris. From that moment I knew that I will make animation movies.

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
Currently, I am last-year student at the Georges Méliès School in Paris. This school taught me everything: the academic drawing, the traditional animation, the 3D software, and the team work. But the most important thing that they taught me is that the more you draw the more you improve, learning by doing. I was far from being a good drawer, but after working day and night I became better and better. At that time, I understood that the talent is only the result of hard work. I learn a lot copying and being inspired by some character designers, painters, sculptors, photographers but also asking my classmates and teachers for advice. Every night I chose a theme for exercises, and I drew characters testing different proportions, shapes, and posing. I think that my will to work one day in a great studio pushes me to do my best every day.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
All the Disney movies, the Ghilbli one, the comic strip (Asterix et Obelix, Tintin, or Lucky Luc), and some manga like One Piece, Shaman King, Naruto. And obviously Pokemon too.

From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
In my opinion, when you start a work, the first thing to do is to look for real and graphic references. It can be pictures, paintings, sculptures, drawings, movies, music or even street people. Then I ask myself the following questions: What is the personality of my character? What I want to talk about (story telling)? These two questions help me to choose the graphic style, the character clothes, if he has a beard, his hair cut, his posing, etc. I try to use all the components of the character to describe his personality. Then I test various shapes, proportions, silhouette, posing, expressions, look. When I am happy with a character, I try to put him in various poses in order to make him ''attractive''. I think there are few rules you need for a good character design in animation (I have learn it in Jim Kim conference at Paris!) :) 

  • Storytelling
  • Clear and simplicity of shape(s)
  • Good proportions
  • Rythm (Straight vs curves)
  • Right amount of caricature
  • Make it real, believable of the character

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I only use Photoshop. Usually, I try to use the color to enhance my line. I don't want that the color exceeds my design. My rendition is quite simple with flat colors and a shadow. I choose my color depending on the personality of my character, and I choose consistency tones too. Nevertheless, I use 1 or 2 saturated colors in order to lead spectator eyes.

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
For me, the most fun for me is the search phase. I can try different shapes, proportions, and I look for the details that will make the character nicer, meaner, slacker, livelier. The most difficult area personally is to see my character in volume, to imagine it turn around.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
Currently, I am working on my graduate movie with 3 classmates:

We are not far the end of the process, so we are working hard, day and night, in order to be ready for the presentation ceremony.

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I would love to become character designer in one of the best studios in order to work with my favourite artists and learn every time more. In long term, I don't know yet, I have so many wishes and dreams. I would like to do visual development, do story boards, realize animation movies, comic strips, and why not build my own studio, rework on the 2D design in order to put it fashionable again. If I could choose a career, I would like to be Miyazaki!

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?
I think that the inspiration is fed when you do not draw. The inspiration is fed when you read, observe people, watch movies, see painting or sculpture, travel, listen music, rest, talk, walk, wait. Giving you themes helps a lot. There are so many Facebook groups which give you themes every month like the ''Character Design Challenge'', every week like ''4ForFan'', or every day like ''Daily Speedpaint''.

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?
You should ask to yourself a question: What can I do 7x 24? Even if you are not the best in that area, it is not very important because you can improve if you works hard.  Meeting people and other life opportunities will give a direction to your career and your life too.

What is your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
Actually, I love 2D and I really believe that the 2D is not old fashion. I think that the 3D is not good for most of the animation movies. The 3D still narrows too much the artistic part of the movies. As a result, we watch many movies with the ''Pixar style''. People will probably get boring of this kind of movies. Obviously, there are very good 3D movies, like ''UP'', ''Monster Inc.'', ''The Unbreakable'', ''Inside out'', ''Zootopia'', but unfortunately these movies are still too rare. In our time, making profit is the most important thing in the animation movie industry, as in the majority of the industries. In this context, the quality is sometimes not as much important as the potential business success, it is unfortunate.

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
Milt Kalh, Al Hirschfeld, Ronald Searl, Dev'on Stubblefield, Nicolas Marlet, James Woods, Chris Sasaki, Carter Goodrich, Peter de seve, Shiyoon Kim, Jim Kim, Nadya Mira, Jeff Turley, Taylor Krahenbult, Glenn Keane, Miyazaki, Cory Loftis, Portlynn, Nikolas Illic, Yon Hui lee, Brandon Wu, Heidi Smith, Griz and Norm, Matisse, Picasso, Gustave Klimt, Edward Hopper, Egon Shiele, Oswaldo Guayasamin

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
I have a Tumblr ( ), an Instagram ( ) and a Facebook page ( ). If you are interesting you can follow me =D Thanks to my dad and brother for translate my interview!

Thank you Benjamin :)