Where did you grow up and when did you say to yourself: ‘’I wanna be an Artist’’?
I grew up in a town called Saint-cloud near Paris.
I had this extreme luck to be supported since my childhood, encouraged to draw so like a lot of artists I drew a lot when was a young so there isn’t really a moment when I said to myself ''i’m gonna be an artist''; I always had this option of doing some drawing-related job later in my mind.
But honestly, I had no idea of how to apply art and what are the jobs or simply how to draw, I mean I always drew but before going to an art school it was horrible. By learning what you can concretely do as an ''artist'', and by concretely I mean not just drawing fan arts in a corner of paper during class, I finally said to myself ''yeah maybe I could do that'' . So it came late I guess
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Disney of course, I must have seen Robin Hood at least 32 times and Sleeping beauty 58 times, all the 90’s cartoons like Samurai Jack, power puff girls, and anime. I also read a lot of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck cartoons, Carl Bark’s and especially Don Rosa’s, it was a big influence of drawing and i term of humor, but maybe what helped me developing the desire to create stories, characters and their environment is video games, some had such an immersive and unique mood that it influence all that I wanted to draw. The kind of games that makes you draw a ridiculous amount of fan art, searching for all the illustrations and character/creatures concepts, when you start to develop your own video game concept which is mostly a bad mash-up of all your favorite games. To make a quick list, being a 90’s kid: Zelda Ocarina of time and Majora’s mask, Rayman 2, Final fantasy crystal chronicles & especially 9 (Toshiyuki Itahana, you damn genius) … In a video game you spend a lot of time exploring a universe by yourself, you can focus on any detail you like, so maybe that’s why it inspires me even more than animated movies, series or such.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? What helped you prepare to become the artist we know today?
I did an art school in paris where I have learned the basics of drawing, using software and meet a lot of awesome people. That where I had the occasion of testing things, making a tons of mistake and learning to deal with it. I consider that I really started to understand things in a lot more just after school, I began to teach myself mostly thanks to the huge amount of things you can find on the internet. I started to feel that there was no more excuses to not be able to learn something. I always try to mix ''learning new things'' and ''doing things that I love'' .
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 child I loved to imitate drawings from my favorite animation movies, video games etc so I don’t know, maybe fantasy universes, fantasy character and magic related- things. I think I still like all that wizard-witch-magic love. And I think what I like to draw more is people and everything that comes with it : attitude, expressions, costumes … In illustrations, I’d say that linking fantastic worlds and background with everyday and relatable situations is one of the things that particularly floats my boat. Of course I’m constantly learning so if I one day I get comfortable with animals, I’d probably draw only animals-related illustrations for a while, etc …
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?
I’ll talk about my process of designing in general, it’s the same when I work for a client of for a project of even for my self. The only thing that changes is time and deadlines
The first thing I do is to understand the story, read it and extract some keywords and ideas without restricting myself. I often have an image in my head and some directions,. So the second step is : references. I pick those that are close to the image I have in a corner of my head, and I chose inspirations. It’s one of favorite parts, because I immediately start to have an angle and some different propositions. It can be anything: a reference for a design style, costume and clothes references, other artists sketches to remind me to get loose and not searching for the ideal design at first try.
Then when I start to actually draw, I always keep in mind: what does the character want ? It’s a question that includes the role the character has in the story, his/her personality, where did he come from and a lot of other details like that.
I start with very thick lines, and draw rough simple shapes. I know a lot of art its works directly with full shapes but I still got the need to use lines, I’m too attached with it. I do 2 or 3 shapes at the same tie, and add a little details to see if it can be used. I love to work on 2 or 3 designs and switch between them, because I’m starting to warm up as I work.
Then I add more details and precise my lines. Look at references, sometimes starts working on another pager to get a step back, then go back to the first ones. I need to get that ''appealing'' feel, and you can feel it at the beginning, just with shapes. And that’s why I love photoshop, you can cheat test things, easily distort, resize elements and push things further. And flip images! I always flip, to me it has to work on both way, an not become suddenly ugly when flipped.
One of the things I really try to improve is to test more variation of proportions, try to give a character a little ''something'' that makes him relatable especially on the face. When you can say ''oh he reminds me of someone'' or ''Aaah, I have a friend exactly like that''.
What is your process in coloring your art and what type of tools or media do you use?
I’m in a stable and fulfilling relationship with photoshop, and I use A4 tablet. When I work on productions with a sustained pace, I tend to use only photoshop, from the rough to the final render because it’s really quick.
For the process it depends in if I’m searching colors for characters or if i want a full render, but it kinda follows the same steps as designing.
But for both: references! Same process for designing: I often have an idea in my head, I search for images that match with that idea and I ALWAYS come across totally different things, sometime far more effective, so I save and open everything (my screen is a mess full of images everywhere) and just try roughly. Very quickly, I chose one or two and add some details on the colors, usually the face and the important areas.
Then my process got a messy, if I have some other characters I start to work on those to get a step back and later go back on the first one. When I open the first one, if my reaction is like ''yep that could work'' or more rarely ''oh cool'', I push it a little and validate as quick as I can with the rest of the team. If my reaction is ''meh'' I try other things. And that’s the part where photoshop is the most useful, you can try a lot of things on colors with contrasts, hue and saturations etc … When it appears insipid to me, I often try the opposite hue, saturate it a lot, basically i’m being not subtle at all. It helps finding bold propositions, and you an always get subtitle with it later. It’s easier to try an extreme way and go back a little bit to more reasonable things than in the opposite way.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The rough part! Just after the brainstorming, this is the part when you have found an idea you think it’s good, the development of it and the moment where 15 others idea comes to you mind (and when my screen is absurdly top-full of references images with no room left) . When I’m starting to have my design and try poses, different haircuts and clothes, expressions. What helps me to validate/select things and not lost my self in a procrastination of I’ve-got-too-much-ideas-I-want-to-try-everything is to make final ''boards'' with poses, expressions.
The hardest one is the clean part, finding the final rendering. This is the part when I’m afraid of losing « something », when I look at the roughs and find them better without always knowing exactly what has been lost.
But hard and fun aren’t opposite, even if I’m sometimes lazy I still enjoy struggling if I feel that i’m improving. It’s not like struggling on complicated softwares without understanding anything and even learning. I hate complicated softwares.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
I work at an audiovisual production an animation studio (called ''Monkey Eggs'') that I started with friends from school. We develop our TV series project but also work with other studio, and work basically on whatever needs animations so it’s hard to describe a typical day!
We’re regularly have new things to work on, things that accumulate with other things etc. So, without any particular order: brainstorming on freshly born project, designing cartoon character for another project, emails, reworking on a logo after client’s feedback, second brainstorming on the now-growing-up-project because there is some flaws in the story that we try to solve, reworking on a logo after client’s feedback, working on a realistic-comic stylised video clip for a band, more emails, finally starting designs on that project…
Boredom is rare, and even if every co-founders have there specialities we all work on very different things and help each others if someone feels stuck.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
As a designer: focus on narration, keeping in mind that the story is mostly what influence the design.
As a member of a team : never persist on your idea, always accept that your work needs changes, ask for more work, try not to be a bad person, communicate on what you’re doing and be aware of what the other are doing, VALIDATE THINGS and don’t go back.
And also, for any kind of project: there is no room for ego , animation is about a lot of things but not having the last word. Synergy and brainstorming is the best way to creativity and to solve problems. It can still take time, it’s still a lot of work sometimes but it’s so much easy than when you work on a project alone.
In any case you’ll have to draw a lot and it doesn’t matter if you had the idea of the design first or if it’s your co-worker.
BUT developing you own projects is still very relaxing, there is a lot of freedom and spontaneity so it can creat a balance between work and personal creativity.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
Almost always the latest stuffs that I did because I consider them having less flaws that the older ones, and because there generally work on which I can apply what I have learned most recently. I can’t really choose one, but it’s generally the designs I do spontaneously, without too much thinking and struggling. Too hard to properly answer, I abdicate, sorry!
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I can’t really tell because I haven’t worked in many places and not really as a freelance because I work at my own studio. But even if I haven’t a lot of comparison, I can tell that it suits me well :) . Honestly, I feel like it’s a little bit of both : freelance-type of works (logos, print, designs etc), and little bit of animation production on our tv project.
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 there’s many different ways of blocking:
- Tiredness, mental fatigue or even bad mood
- working on things you’re not comfortable with and struggling, like when you draw a character but can’t figure out the hand, and try 32 390 different versions of that hand without make it work.
- period of lack of inspiration, lack of motivation
-Try working on other things if possible, for example if you are stuck on the color process of a character, switch do design
- Reference yourself ! Two benefits: you’ll may find the reference you need for a pose, color mood, clothes etc, and you’ll feel a lot more inspired by looking to other people’s work and fill your head with images.
- If possible, try another angle if the subject isn’t stimulating your imagination
If not working: Do something else, relaxing but but mostly constructive like running (or any sport you like, if you’re more into water polo then go for it) , cleaning, doing things left on to-do list for too long; give yourself the sensation of having accomplished at least tiny things for the day. I know it’s not always possible because we don’t always have time to do something else but it’s better to « lose » time and get things done later than forcing and do everything bad (= do almost nothing) And for the long slack periods of art-blocking, it can be more than just lack of motivation and it maybe needs exterior help.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there’s 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?
I’m going to give advises I didn’t know and/or didn’t apply because I was probably stubborn at the time. I give them not because I became suddenly wise (spoiler: I’m not) but because I did a lot of mistake and I feel that it can help avoiding them.
When starting : try a bit of everything, considering that everybody is capable of learning everything, so just try to get basics and be curious for each. And especially looking at artists’s work in each domain, references etc. That’s where you will starting to feel more attracted to one of this options in particular, being inspired by great artists and great works.
Immediately put those domains in perspective. For example illustrators: what do they do, on what kind of project do they work, is it better to be try different styles, or to concentrate on one kind of style (to me: always be flexible) . If you have a doubt, always search, besides there is almost all the answer on internet .
Then you can juxtapose the informations you found with your own personal goals. Then you can sharpen your search by learning about what’s going on in the industry lately, what is the best, do you want to adapt your career or do you want to stick to your goal? There no better answer for that, just motivation
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favorite designs?
My firsts influences are the artists that makes me want to be in the animation world, like Moebius, Disney of course, Miyazaki, Jamie Hewlett, Nicolas Marlet, Don Rosa, Toshiyuki Itahana … Those are the people that made me scribbles in corners of my school notes
And lately thanks to social media and internet in general I’ve discovered a whole new world of awesomeness and crazy inspirations, young artists, annoyingly younger artists than me and classic veterans of drawing. So here’s a name parade:
Alexandre Diboine, Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Anthony Holden, Annette Marnat, Robert Valley, Suheb Zako, Vaughn Pinpin, Ivan Freire, Uwe Heidschötter, Caio Martins, Angi Pauly Llobet, Jules Rigolle, Fabien Mense, Rickey Tickey, Dean heezen, Ahmad Beyrouthi, Brittany Myers, Wilhelm M. Busch, Guilherme Franco, Taylor Krahenbuhl
The list could be longer and I could write 1280 lines about why I love them but I think looking at their work is the best thing to do. So please go for it and google everything
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
All my works are on my tumblr: tristanbrard.tumblr.com, and you’re more than welcome to send me things at firstname.lastname@example.org
And I use Facebook mostly to procrastinate discover cool artists and talk with people, so you can say hi here too.