1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
I’m born in Montreal (Canada) and always lived here. I always loved art but didn’t really started before I was in my twenties. I did a few clumsy oil paintings then but soon discovered the technique of photo-collages. I was amazed by the surreal imagery that could be created using a few “cutouts” from photos in magazines; I had found my medium. At the beginning my collages were very simple. I used a pair of scissors and glue for many years. Later on my photo-collages became more “sophisticated” and I started to exhibit in cafés, cultural centers and galleries. Not much after I decided to build a portfolio and go see art directors of publications around town. I received an immediate positive answer, it was the beginning of my career as an illustrator and it goes on since. I, of course, use a computer now, since many years.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
People usually associate my work with Pop art, Pop Surrealism. This is because of the colors and compositions you find in most of my images.
At least I can say that I never intended to be Pop but always (almost) was surreal.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
Collage and computer, they go hand in hand for me.
4. What is your artistic process like?
I’ll describe step-by-step, as clearly as possible, how I do a picture. For example let’s talk about the creation of a picture for a magazine article.
I start by reading, a few times, the article and letting it warm up in my mind for some hours, then I gather all kinds of cutouts that are related to the subject. I have many bo- xes full of these cutouts in my studio, more or less classified by categories. I also look in magazines and other sources to find more elements if needed. Looking for these I keep my mind open in case I find something interesting that is not necessarily related to the subject but can nevertheless be useful. It is important to surprise myself, not to arrive absolutely at the end with the picture I had in my mind when I started. Many times (but not always), at the end, the best pictures are the ones that were imagined all along the process, not having in mind a clear idea at the beginning.
After I have gathered more or less what I need to start I scan each cutouts and apply, in Photoshop, a high contrast of black and white to them (which take away their colors). To achieve the perfect contrast, I sometimes have to do it in parts on the same piece. Then I make each item transparent. It is on a similar shape, underneath, that I put the color. I repeat this for all the scanned elements. I compose the picture like this, piece by piece. Of course I often go back to search for the best cutouts needed to complete the image and take out those I don’t think really fit. It is to find the good vibration, to understand how everything fits the best together, like the director on a movie or a play.
The colors can be added also by placing a hand-made layer of watercolor, acrylic paint, color pencil, etc, under the black and white layer that is now transparent. These colors can be used independently also, without a top layer. Lines done with pencils can be added, and so on. I use my pen tablet from time to time. I intend to add more of these hand-made textures in my work in the future. Sometimes I displace the colored layer so it is not exactly under the transparent one. Of course there can be other features I use in Photoshop depending on the need, but basically this is how I work. When I think the picture is done I “let it sleep” a bit and come back later on (after a good walk outside for example) looking at it with a fresher mind. I can then make a last minute change if necessary.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
My big influence at the beginning was the surrealist artists like Dali, Magritte, and others. Everything that was surrealist, in painting but also in literature, in poetry and in movies. Photomontage pioneers also like John Heartfield, Max Ernst, Jacques Prévert. Rapidly although I became inspired by a lot of things coming my way, in my surroundings, to a point that it is difficult to name anything in particular. I always carry on me a notebook in which I can write (mainly) and draw ideas for new images, for titles of work, etc…
I can also write down notes not necessarily related to my inspiration of the moment but about music I would like to listen to, exhibitions I would like to see, websites I should visit. I write down interesting parts of books I’m currently reading, etc. These notes also feed, indirectly, my inspiration sometimes. I have written a large quantity of these notebooks, sometimes I browse into them to look for an idea, but most of the time I concentrate on what I have written recently.
So everything can inspire me, I listen, observe, look; I am interested in cultural and social lives. This enrich my visual vocabulary and allows me to better translate my ideas and emotions.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
“Art is what makes life more important than art”. (R. Filloux)
7. Where did you study?
I’m self-taught. I have the deepest gratitude to the art directors that have so generously helped me all along my path as a self-taught illustrator, especially in the early days. They provided, in part, the education I didn’t get officially.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?
I see myself pursuing my career as an illustrator. I will put more times doing short animations from my illustrations, and also doing more exhibitions.
9. What about in ten?
Ask me the question in five years.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I wish that my illustrations can question, amuse, create a smile, puzzle and, of course, stimulate the imagination. In the case of an illustration done for a magazine I wish it stimulate the reader to read the article.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Love all king of food but particularly found of Italian cuisine.
12. Favourite book?
I constantly read, more than one book at the time often. I recently enjoyed very much “Sapiens : a brief history of humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari which explains our history from the beginning in an audacious, provocative way. I also have read recently the 2 latest issues of illustration magazine Mincho (from Spain) which is a constant delight, I learn always about illustration in its pages. I also have read Varoom, the unique magazine from the Association of Illustrator from the U.K.
13. Favourite genre of music?
All kind of music but especially pop, rock, electronica, classical and jazz. I listen to a lot of music working, but also information of all kinds on radio and podcasts.
14. What are your hobbies?
Reading, going to movies, biking, taking long walks, travelling, visiting museums and galleries.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
A musician, although I do not play any instrument. Perhaps a writer.