Jérémie Fleury

Where did you grow up? At what age did you start thinking about pursuing an artistic career?
I grew up in France, more precisely in Burgundy, a beautiful region surrounded by nature. Like most of my peers I have always been attracted by drawing, and I developed the desire to work in this field during my adolescence. I was around 15 when I began working on a project for an amateur video game, and this gave me the desire to make it a career. I’ve always had a fascination for characters and I never stop drawing them. I knew that the road was long and hard but I never imagined that making a living out of my passion would have been possible one day.

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
Having had a complicated childhood, drawing was for me a kind of refuge. My family had some misunderstanding with the fact that I isolated myself to draw. The person who always encouraged me on my artistic journey is my mother. She greatly influenced me through her particular taste for art and writing. With time, my family became accustomed to the idea that I would become an "artist" and now they are all very happy that I have been able to break into this profession.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Very early and still today, I had a deep admiration for animation movies. Disney films, Dreamworks, then Pixar have influenced me a lot. Not to mention the numerous comics I read. The one who gave me the click to draw female characters is the BD "Thorgal:  La gardienne des clés" by Grzegorz Rosinski. The illustrations and artists of the cards “Magic the Gathering” have also inspired me. Today, my influences are more diversified.

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? What helped you prepare to become the artist we know today?
I had training in a French private school of illustration, computer graphics and animation for 4 years. It is a renown school in my country, that teaches the fundamentals of illustration with many academic courses . As the years passed , we were given more freedom . Still today, when I draw, I remember some of my teachers’ anecdotes . Although I had reached a certain level as an autodidact before entering the school , it acted as an accelerator and a springboard to my career.

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?
When I was a teenager, I started drawing a lot of characters. In particular female characters, because I was in my Art Nouveau period with the paintings of Alphonse Mucha. I spent hours watching them. The female model is always one of my main interests in illustration. This is why one can discover many pin-ups in my galleries. I have a taste for very long hair!

From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you're designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
Working for a variety of projects, the process is always different. But generally speaking, I have the initial idea given by the client (the universe, history, the structure of the project), sometimes they give me a brief, then I start on sketches. I am someone who works a lot with a sort of inspired first draft. That is to say that I come up with an idea which is often the one I keep for the future. Then I send the pencil draft, the customer gives me a feedback and proposes corrections for the illustration to be better adapted to the project. Besides, when I get to the finalization of the work, I spend some time to adjust the first drawings.

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools or media do you use?
Even if I have used many traditional tools a lot before and during my studies, I mainly use digital color. My tool is a large tablet screen ( Cintiq 24HD ) and the software I use is Manga Studio for inking , and Photoshop CC for color. I use more or less textured brushes I’ve created myself. Even if it comes to digital painting, I proceed as I learned to do by hand.

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I love the stage of sketchy pencil drawing because we are freer and faster in the gesture. It's not the easiest step, however. The coloring stage on the other hand takes me a long time, but it is not the most difficult. Yes I know, I have some difficulty in answering this question. In all cases, it requires a lot of patience and elbow grease.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
The typical day? Well, I get out of bed, take care of my cat, sometimes forget to eat breakfast and go directly into the room which I use as a workshop to check my mails. I take my pen and here I go for a workday. I exaggerate a little but it's almost that! I work primarily on the internet by exchanging mails, through Skype or Facebook. I meet professionals on book fairs or game trade shows, also in shops, places where I travel to for signing sessions.

What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
For a period, I worked for a consulting company and I had to provide many realistic concept art every week. Watching the work of my colleagues allowed me to keep me up-to-date and learn some tricks to save time. There was some emulation but we all made images in a similar style to meet the graphic charter of the games on which we worked.I love to surround myself with illustrations, be it artbooks, sketchbooks, youth books, comic strips, or surf on networks such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook. I subscribe to the news of the artists I like. When you are a freelancer and alone in your workshop, it gives you the impression you are in a large room where you can talk with other people who share the same passion, share tips and get inspiration . All this is very instructive.

Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
It's hard to tell the project that I illustrated I am the most proud of. Today I would say that it is the board game "Histrio" which will be released late February because it is very comprehensive and is very different from my usual work . There is a game board, a theater to assemble, figurines, cards, tokens ... all in an inspiring Renaissance/Louis XIV universe with anthropomorphic characters. Something completely new to me and the result of a real challenge.

What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
In France I am best known for my illustrated books for young people, especially Azuro, le dragon bleu (Azuro, the Blue Dragon). This is a picture book that speaks of a dragon not like the others, which is blue and spits water. This series is dedicated to children with William's syndrome and will offer the opportunity of a sale of original drawings made by illustrators from around the world (JungGi Kim, Zep , Juanjo Guarnido Tony Diterlizzy , Manchu , Frederic Pillot , Paul Dainton and many others …). Profits from this sale will be donated to an association "Autour des Williams ". We  have signed for a minimum of 2 albums a year for 3 years. No translation for the moment but I will not hesitate to tell you about it if the opportunity arises. Currently I am working on two board games and on a graphic novel which is the seventh volume of a series called L’enfant dragon (The Dragon Child).

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I have no specific long-term career goal... I have not really had time to think about it. If I had to have a dream project, it would be to create an illustrated series for teens and see it produced in a cartoon film.

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I’ve had both experiences. There are advantages and disadvantages in both cases. But the freedom that freelancing provides is what suits me best. I miss the human contact a little but I catch up with this when I am invited to fairs!

What advice would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
At first it is important not to force oneself or panic. If you have a mental block it is because you think too much and get too much pressure. Going outside, doing sport is a first step ... it is often when you're relaxed that find the best ideas. Then flip through books in bookstores, go to museums, go to the cinema to have direct contact with images. You can also browse the internet (on the "Character Design References" page for example ), you make records of artists that you like. Practice by doing simple things at first and varying the tools you use. In this job you have to be like a sponge, a good idea may just pop up around the corner of your street!

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are so many options to choose and when you’re young, sometimes the only thing you know is just that you love to draw: what should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a cartoonist. Finally I did a bit of everything, 3D, concept art for video games, illustrations for the youth edition (albums and covers), images for board games and also for chocolates packaging! I do not think having a well-defined artistic path is a necessity. I find that being multi-skilled is a strength. It allows you to adapt to most projects and thus make a living out of your passion.

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?
Today there are an increasing number of people in the visual arts market. Even if there are more and more projects, the level is getting higher and higher. In order to live out of one’s passion, one must work nonstop, constantly challenge oneself. Staying in a style routine and technique where one is comfortable is good but try new things and take risks is even better.

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favorite designs?
I love Claire Wendling, Mingjue Helen Chen, Bruce Timm, Stan Vince, Juanjo Guarnido, Alessandro Barbucci, Cory Loftis, Kei Acedera.. the list would be too long if I were to list all the artists that inspire me.

We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
To my mind, the hand drawn animation has a bright future ahead. Facing a strong competition with 3D movies, these handmade movies will have the audacity to stand out. I am very nostalgic for the days of Disney with his vibrant line as in Merlin, Robin Hood, The Aristocats, 101 Dalmatians. Even today I find these films very modern on certain aspects and very enjoyable to watch. It is always nice to see some films come out from time to time. I loved "The Triplets of Belleville".

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 my FacebookInstagramTwitter pages, where I am very active. My Tumblr blog is mostly dedicated to my pin-ups work, and you can also visit my main website at ( www.trefle-rouge.fr )

My latest publication is called ‘‘Cool Girls’’, and it’s an artbook that features exclusively female characters from my personal work ( you can get yourself a copy right HERE ). Other books I have worked on, can be found in all the good bookshops in France or online with a quick google search (the board games that features my art can also be purchased online, you can find more info on my website).

Thank you Jérémie :)