Where did you grow up? At what age did you start thinking about pursuing an artistic career?
I grew up in a small village in Brittany, north west of France. Both my parents are illustrators for children so I basically spent my entire childhood immersed in an artistic atmosphere. I know I'm very lucky! They never pushed me into an artistic career, but I guess that choice became obvious for me when I was about 16 or 17.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
Right after my high school diploma I moved to Brussels at the Saint Luc institut, where I studied fine art and more specifically "bande dessinée"(comics). I then had a 2 years break, one that I spent in Greece giving drawing lessons for an association, for both adults and children. I then came back to Brussels, and at that time grew the idea of getting into the world of animation that I didn't know at all. I had the chance to succeed entering into Gobelins in Paris. I learned a lot there, I had to face the kind of stuff I would alway avoid to draw, I've been struggling a lot during the first year. Being surrounded there by motivated and talented people brought me a lot, somehow even more than the studies itself. A whole new world of possibilities was suddenly there to explore.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
So hard to answer that question! First of all I would say my parents, seeing them drawing and painting all my childhood of course influenced me a lot. As a child and a teenager, french and belgian comics had a very strong influence on me (Franquin, Moebius, Loisel, De Crécy, Larcenet...) The art of Gorillaz, Mike Mignola... Video games as well, among which I would pick Zelda, which universe really had a great impact on me. Painters like Howard Pyle, Brueghel, N. C. Wyeth, Repine, I remember also The Raft of the Medusa by Géricault that impressed me a lot as a child. Cinema, the Disneys of the Milt Kahl period, Terry Gilliam, Ridley Scott, Burton, Jeunet, Herzog, Coppola, Spielberg, Wes Anderson, Gondry, Miyazaki, Jarmush..
The fact of growing up in the countryside and close to the sea, also the trips I've been doing when I was older, I would say it had a great influence on my work today and the atmosphere I like to put in my images.
What is your process in creating your art and what are your favourite tools?
For personal work on photoshop I often start with a vague picture in mind, a feeling, a general mood. I would make a quick sketch, or go straight to color. Also an idea can come up or evolve from some random brush strokes. That is the part that I enjoy the most. Then I try to focus on fixing the composition, having good shapes and a focal point. During that step I use the lasso tool a lot with strong textured brushes, and I have fun with colors. Then I get into polishing the image but always having in mind to keep the "loose" aspect of the very first brush strokes. Then I will add all the details that will give life and authenticity to the scene, and finally if I feel it needs to I add some details or atmospheric/lights effects.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
Definitely the most fun part of the creation process is making the first explorations from an initial idea. Rough sketches, loose style, going crazy with colors and shapes, keeping as less layers as possible on photoshop. The hardest, or maybe just the part that I'm less interested in, is working on making an image full rendered and 100% consistent, making it clean and well organised for post-production.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
Since I graduated 2 years ago, I had a short experience at Golden Wolf in London, and I have been working at Cartoon Saloon in Ireland on the key backgrounds on their next feature film, The Breadwinner. I had a great time on that beautiful project, and I really enjoyed the process for the final backgrounds: it involved a first pass of gouache to get the texture and the mixing of colors that only traditional painting can give. The last 2 years I also worked on several short commands as a freelance. I'm currently part of the concept art team on Klaus, at the SPA studio in Madrid. I'm very exited to be part of that amazing and promising project.
Do you have a longterm career goal? What would your dream project be?
During my studies at Gobelins me and a group of friends from my class found out that we had a lot in common in terms of taste and creative desires, and we very soon started to enjoy working together. During the summer between our first and second year we worked on two independent shorts, and from that moment grew the idea of creating a collective. After that we almost all the time worked together at Gobelins and at the same time we kept developing our personal ideas and projects. We named our collective STZ (Souviens Ten-Zan, that means "Remember it" in some weird french ). It is now composed of 12 members, and the majority of us are now in Paris. We started with a first command right after we graduated and since then we worked on several different projects for different countries, as well as developing our personal projects. In my case I haven't been much involved in the collective lately, but definitely my goal and dream project is to come back to work with my friends and develop our own projects.
Working in-house for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
Since my graduation I mainly worked in studios. In general I would say that I don't really like to have fixed hours, fixed working days, few days off. l love to be independent. But at the same time I enjoy to work in team, to be part of ambitious projects, and I learn a lot while working with other people. In the future I guess I will try to find the good balance between freelancing and working team.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, you name it. There are so many careers and when you are very young, sometimes you know only one thing: you simply love to draw. In your opinion, what should a young person take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
I don't think there are right decisions for a young person when choosing an artistic path, the most important is the love of creating, telling stories, exploring different graphic styles... Also there are many bridges between all those disciplines. A lot of artists work in animation and do comic or illustration at the same time. Then if you choose to learn animation, you will need a strong drawing, a strong sense of observation. You will need to be eager to understand everything about movement, spacing, timing.. I have such a great respect for the people that do animation, for me it has been the most difficult thing I tried. I almost didn't do animation since I graduated, and I have to say that it is somehow a relief. I feel better doing concept art or backgrounds, animation is too difficult and time consuming for me! With hindsight, the main difference for me is choosing if you prefer working alone or being part of a team. With comics or illustration you will have much more control on your work and the final look. On the other hand in the animation industry you will be part of something that can involve hundreds of people. At the end I would say a young artist should just follow what attracts him the most, and not be scared of exploring as much disciplines as he feels he needs to.
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?
In my case, starting to work in the animation industry has been an open world full of possibilities. Before my studies I didn't know that there were so many studios, such a great variety of projects. It is more difficult to start in the comics or illustration industry. It represents a lot of work, there is a lot of competition with so many great artists. It's hard, but there is still room for talented and motivated people of course!
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
I'm in awe for many great concept/color board artists for their loose/painterly style, their sense for colors and lights: Remy Salmon, Alexandre Diboine, Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi, Alexis Liddell, Juliaon Roels, Aurelien Predal... In terms of innovating designs and colors, graphic creativity, I love artists like Eusong Lee, Djob Nkondo, Pierre Pinon, Elle Michalka, Nicolas Menard, Yoann Hervo.. All the stuff of the CRCR collective, The Line studio, there opening film for the Ciclope Festival is wonderful. Also Mikael Gustafson, Simon Stalenhag, Alberto Mielgo.. Now in SPA I have the chance to work with Szymon Biernacki and Marcin Jakubowski. I'm learning a lot from their sens of shapes and composition, their precision in choosing a color palette, their capacity of keeping just what is essential in an image. This is of course a non exhaustive list, there are so many artists that inspire me, in my case tumblr is the best and easiest way to see great and inspiring stuff every day.
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 see my work online here on my Tumblr ( arthuspilorget.tumblr.com ). And here is the website and the Tumblr of my collective, STZ - Souviens Ten-Zan ( souvienstenzan.com ), ( souvienstenzan.tumblr.com ).
Thank you Arthus :)