French illustrator George(s) on finding his feet
George(s) is a french illustrator and art director now based between London & Paris after three years living and working in Shanghai.
His work is a full organised mess inspired by thousand of things going from Raymond Savignac to Monty Pythons, from Douanier Rousseau to Matt Groening.
Hi George, tell us a little about you and your journey into illustration?
I’m a French illustrator from Nantes. I’ve always wanted to be illustrator or cartoonist. I was always annoying my family, drawing with markers on everything around me…phones, mirrors, sofas…perhaps as a kind of “in-house” subversive art movement. As I got older – and more responsible – I made the decision to study graphic design, going on to finish my Masters in Shanghai where I lived for three years. After working as an Art Director I came back to Europe and focus upon becoming an illustrator; when I realised that in every project I was working on as Art director, I was trying to implement some illustration in it. It’s been more than a year now and I’m loving it! I wake up almost every morning with a huge smile on my face and the drive to make great things.
London is a melting pot of creativity, but it can be challenging to make a living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. How are you finding life in London?
I currently live on the Regent canal, working in one of the Village Underground studios. It has an amazing rooftop with a gorgeous view of Shoreditch. Some cool creative fellas to do barbecues when it’s not raining! I was previously working from home, but I was finding it increasingly hard to motivate myself, tempted by my bed or the sofa! Village Underground is an amazing place to work and exchange ideas. There are people from every discipline: photographers, architects, animators, musicians, even a chef! Shoreditch itself is also such a great place to find inspiration; filled with weird trends, funny people, and an oddball nightlife. There is always something unexpected happening and that’s what inspires me the most.
How has your visual identity changed and developed?
I decided to focus on illustration at a time when I wasn’t confident about drawing. When you need to pay your London rent at the end of the month, you don’t have any other choice than to “push yourself to the limit”. I’ve grown so much in the last year and a half working as illustrator. Previously I was focused on character design, without thinking too much about layout and scenery. Now I try to think of every illustration as part of a whole, where every detail is linked to the other, using more varied techniques than I did before. Realistic drawing used to petrify me, yet I’m having so much fun with it now, combining it with more simple and black lined illustrations. This is a direction I find really interesting and one I want to explore further.
I decided to focus on illustration at a time when I wasn’t confident about drawing. When you need to pay your London rent at the end of the month, you don’t have any other choice than to “push yourself to the limit”.
I love to seek out all of the forgotten or hidden places in London, and embrace the funny twists that can be found in the routines of daily life.
How do you like to kick back when you’re not working?
Ahhhh, that’s the curriculum vitae question, where normally everyone answers “travel – music – sport”. My version would be more “brunch – Sunday roast – sushi”. I have to confess that I’m voracious and obsessed about food. Watching documentaries is an obsession; anything the supposedly boring subjects like history, science, and geopolitics; the more we learn about the world, the more we can be inspired by it. For the same reason, I love to seek out all of the forgotten or hidden places in London. I also try to find as much time as possible to do illustration workshops with migrant children in London and Paris. It’s something really close to my heart.
With an unlimited budget, and unlimited time, what would your dream project be?
Tough question! I don’t think it would be one huge project. More like plenty of small ones! I’ve alway wanted to do a series of sculptures in stone, create my own animated movie, as well as design a series of illustrated stamps. I would be thrilled to see people licking and sticking one of my illustrations to send love letters.
Do you collect any interesting ephemera?
Well my workspace is a representation of my work I think; a huge organised mess (which has been cleaned up for the picture below). I don’t collect anything specific, but I do have several gadgets, which can be found (again pictured); like the miniature hands or the mechanical dog.
I really believe that being open-minded as illustrator is really important.
List your most read and treasured books.
“Michael Strogoff: The Courier of the Czar” by Jules Verne, “Calvin & Hobbes” by the one and only Bill Watterson, “Tours de main”, an old illustrated French tutorial book with amazing tips, and “SSE Monograph” by Andy Rementer.
What are your preferred tools and materials?
I don’t have preferred tools. It really depends on my mood and needs! I love using poscas, markers, pentel sign pens, pencils, paint, indian ink… Every time I go to art shops I try and find new tools that I’ve never played with, to experiment and discover what can be created.
Can you tell us anything about what you’re currently working on? Any interesting collaborations on the horizon?
Plenty of good things…a set of animations for a museum,and another set for an organic snacks company. I also have some collaborations coming up soon with several brands and creative friends around the world, including Family Store UK and We are out of office.
Which recent creative project have you seen that you wish you’d done and why?
Well it’s not really recent anymore, but definitely Wednesday with Goddard by Manshen Lo & Nicolas Ménard. It’s far and away the best animated short film I’ve seen in a while. The way they’ve combined the mix of pencil drawings with more geometric ones (as I love to do it) is perfect! It’s a true masterpiece.