Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in the countryside near Nantes, France. There was a forest behind my parents house, and a garage filled with tools to build rather unstable huts! I spent a lot of time outdoors, and would only draw on rainy days or during the winter. I've always enjoyed drawing though. I knew I wanted to do something art-related, but I was a bit unsure for a while. Eventually, the fog lifted and my focus became clear: animation. I had considered being a 2D animator, but during my time at Gobelins, I realized visual development suited me best. Ha, and visual development was "pretty easy" compared to animation. Lazy me!
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I actually went to three art schools. First, I stopped my regular courses to enroll in a school focused mainly on the arts. Basically, half the hours were focused on the regular school curriculum, and the second half involved painting, drawing, and marketing (in order to prepare us for advertising jobs, which I eventually realized wasn't my cup of tea). The school was extraordinary nonetheless. This was when I learned about the existence of Gobelins. It was a revelation. I desperately wanted to go there, but I needed an undergraduate degree to apply. So, I went to 'Les Beaux Arts' of Poitiers. I didn't really care about this school. It was les beaux arts (fine arts), so I was free to do what I wanted. You only chose the options you want (painting, sculpting, Linoleum carving, etc). This 'beau art' was unique because the school focused more on new technologies like videography, compositing, and to my surprise, animation! I mainly focused on photography, Linoleum carving, and 2d animation, but I soon realized that the program of the school wasn’t very challenging. In the end, I didn’t learn the animation foundation I was hoping for, but at least it helped me decide to fully pursue animation. Three years later, I finally received an official degree in art. At last, I could apply for the school that I’d been dreaming of, Gobelins l'école de l'image. After a stressful application process, I was accepted in the animation department. This is where all the hard work began! It took many years to get there, but it finally paid off. Being surrounded by so many talented artists was amazing. They've inspired me so much, and I'm still trying to keep up! Sure, the countless hours of work wasn’t always fun, but seeing myself improve every day was worth it in the end.
Looking back, I'm glad everything worked out the way it did, because my only back-up plan was to enrol in the army. I was never really into late-night workouts in the rain. Ha, that's probably why I didn't quit!
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
Maybe both? Neither? I'm constantly struggling with myself about that I want to do, what I want to draw, and where I want to work. Since the beginning, I've always been employed by big studios for long period of time. I've always had the structure and benefits of a big company. Although I'm happy with that, sometimes I want to exchange it all for more artistic freedom. However, if I become a freelancer, I know I’ll miss the structure of the big studios and joy of having other artists and friends around me. I don't know if I’ll ever be able to chose!
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I usually start directly in color with color blocking. I gravitate towards flat colours and tend to avoid the use of linework from the beginning. It's always easier to get rid of something that’s barely there. Working in color keeps the painting alive. Without linework, it’s easier to make changes, and the shapes and poses formulate as I go. I’m always thinking in color. It's almost like a compulsive behavior, and sometimes my color choices or the color combination I want to try, are there before the rough sketch. I struggle with linework, something about it feels too defined and restricting, but for some things it can't be avoided. If I get an assignment with a complex composition and a lot of architectural detail, then I’ll need a pencil and some paper.
Depending on the subject of the painting, I’ll decide whether to work out my compositions on paper or in photoshop. While I enjoy painting digitally, I’m not a fan of drawing in Photoshop. Something about it feels limiting. I don't use complex brushes, or fancy tools in Photoshop. I've collected a few here and there, but I think the only ones I have are the “Kyle Brushes”. For the most part, I just use the basic brush set.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The most fun part for me, is coming up with ideas. It's always have been my favorite part of the process. Often, my mind is already thinking about the next painting before finishing the first one. It’s a bit annoying because many of my paintings end up in a "to finish" folder, and stay there forever. But at some point you have to focus on one image and render it out, especially in the animation industry. The "super detailed illustration" stage. I have a lot of respect for artists who enjoy rendering out the details, the perfect little rim here, the reflection in the windows there, etc. I just don’t have the patience for it, and often have to force myself to finish a painting. I'm a bit too spontaneous for my own good. Where some artists see perfection and pleasure in the details, I just see boredom. It's my everyday challenge!
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
Sure! It comes in the form of a little girl with a cute nose and two giant eyes...it's a long-term project that is going to keep me busy for a while! Cheesy, but definitely true!
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
My typical work day revolves around drinking coffee, working, going to meetings, and trying to pick up my daughter on time from daycare. Once or twice a week, there’s usually an art review with the directors and producers to share ideas and receive feedback on prop, environment, and character design. Sometimes, I won’t have a meeting for days. And other times, it's hard to find an hour or two to work because of all the meetings. It doesn’t really sound that interesting, but it's a perfect balance for me between working time, spending time with friends, and having a healthy family life.
Occasionally, I’ll work on freelance or personal projects during lunch. It helps to break up the monotony of the current project I’m on, and also to keep me feeling fresh and inspired. But at the same time, it can be hard to find the motivation to do it! I'm also not the kind of person who can sit at my desk and work for the entire day. I need a few breaks to clear my head and stay efficient. Super-focus mode, ON. For me, all that matters at the end of the day, is that the job is done . I don't like going home with something bothering me from work.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I started in the video game industry, on a platform game for UBISOFT called Rayman Origins. The project and the work environment were incredible, and I enjoyed every part of the production. But, when I was contacted by DreamWorks, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I saw a chance to reconnect with the film industry and move to the US to start a new chapter. I couldn't resist the opportunity!! So far I’ve worked on few feature animated movies: Penguins of Madagascar, The Croods 2, and How to train your Dragon 3. I’ve also worked on a project that was shelved, but who knows, maybe it’ll come back one day. I’m currently working on the Captain Underpants movie (which will be released in 2017).
What is your long term career goal and what would your dream project be?
I would love to illustrate children's books while living in my future, preferably secluded, home in France. I‘ve always been fond of children's books. I'm constantly adding to my own collection. They’re my main inspiration and I personally see my style evolving in this direction. Also, now that I have a daughter who enjoys hearing stories and reading books, I would love to make one just for her. Hopefully she’d like it! Ultimately, I would love to have the freedom of choosing what to work on, whether it's books, video games, feature film or TV shows.
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?
That’s a tough one. It’s impossible to name one, so I’ll recommend three. "750 years in Paris" by Vincent Mahe - for its beauty, perfect lines, and style. "Junky " by Guillaume Singelin - for the dynamic drawing style and the spectacular amount of sketches. "CR fashion book" by Carine Roitfeld - for every issue is always filled with gorgeous pictures, great sense of composition, and graphic angle in each piece. Maybe it’s because of their color choices, stylization, compositions, and boldness. They all have something in common, a Graphic style … with a big G.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I will always love hand drawn animation. But, there a problem with it now. The 2d animation industry is in trouble, and there is less demand for it nowadays. Luckily, there will always be incredible artists out there trying their best to keep it alive. Whether it’s incorporating it more in feature films, or tv shows, etc. The sense of acting and timing, the readability of the animation, those incredibles skills flowing through the veins of 2d animators ...it's never lost. Or at least not yet. We should just cultivate the art of hand drawn animation a bit more, so that’s not lost definitively. I just wish people could remember how beautiful 2D animation can be. And let’s not forget how much cheaper they are than 3D!
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 find some older work on my Blogspot ( floony.blogspot.com ). I also have a Tumblr ( florianemarchix.tumblr.com ) with more recent work. Unfortunately, I haven’t updated in a long time. That’s the problem with long productions, nothing can be shown until the film is released. But stay connected... It's coming soon! ;)
Thank you Floriane :)