Interview

characters

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

When talking about music with Fred, it becomes obvious that performers and their artistic vision fascinate him. It's not surprising that the most of his body of work from the last decade (and what is ultimately his name on the map) were illustrations of musicians that inspired him. We can sense there's an attitude and life in his portraits. When discussing with Fred the reasons behind his choice of subjects, one thing is certain: what speaks to him are characters.

Fred, how do you define a "character"?

Well, take Jimi Hendrix for example. He was an exceptional guitarist with a unique look. But what does it say to me is his personality: he was irreverent. He came to the scene and imposed HIS vision of what music was. It's his attitude that I like. For others like Leloup, Dylan and Miles, it's the same thing. I believe their personality defines their art and their words. That's what makes them interesting and relevant. I do not want to do back to back portraits and tell me, "Ok, I've done Hendrix, who's next?" I have to feel it, and that depends on my mood at the moment. I do not do any special orders and I do not work in "repeat" mode. I need to feel and connect with the character, otherwise the results will not be there.

interview

characters

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

When talking about music with Fred, it becomes obvious that performers and their artistic vision fascinate him. It's not surprising that the most of his body of work from the last decade (and what is ultimately his name on the map) were illustrations of musicians that inspired him. We can sense there's an attitude and life in his portraits. When discussing with Fred the reasons behind his choice of subjects, one thing is certain: what speaks to him are characters.

Fred, how do you define a "character"?

Well, take Jimi Hendrix for example. He was an exceptional guitarist with a unique look. But what does it say to me is his personality: he was irreverent. He came to the scene and imposed HIS vision of what music was. It's his attitude that I like. For others like The wolf, Dylan and Milesit's the same thing. I believe their personality defines their art and their words. That's what makes them interesting and relevant. I do not want to do back to back portraits and tell me, "Ok, I've done Hendrix, who's next?" I have to feel it, and that depends on my mood at the moment. I do not do any special orders and I do not work in "repeat" mode. I need to feel and connect with the character, otherwise the results will not be there.

If I'm drawing Hendrix, there need to be a splash of ink all over my drafting table. In a way, I need to become Hendrix. The method and the results are totally different when I draw something else, like a scene filled with romance or melancholy. I adapt to what I'm illustrating. I work like a chameleon.

Do you have examples of how do you apply to your subject? Of working like a chameleon?

Yes. Bob Dylan. I drew a freehand sketch of him in one sitting with the intention of keeping a rough draft, with much looser lines. In the end, I kept going with the lines sometimes going through the illustration in a random way. I felt that made Dylan's poetry stick out. For me, this represents his character and personality.

What about Leloup?

I had a lot of difficulty doing The wolf. I did not want to be too realistic or have it too much. Jean is sensitive but he's also bubbling with ideas. His thoughts go in all directions at once and they are filled with the stories of the many different women he's met. He has two or three recurring subjects in his songs: girls, love and wandering - he's a traveler. That's who Leloup is. You know, I would not draw Gilles Vigneault. I did not have a good relationship but it would be missing something because I do not connect with his personality - we're too far apart.

I need to feel a connection with my subject so we can fuse together. The character that appears on paper. If not, I will not be satisfied with the result.

I 've done some drawings that are adequate, but I' m more difficult with my own work. I think it's a good thing but it can become more torturous!

You've done many portraits of musicians. There are a number of jazz players in the lot: Miles DavisBill Evans, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Jaco Pastorious, Thelonious Monk, etc. They all have their signature look but, they are all in black and white. What attracted you to them? Their aesthetics? Or their music?

Just like Hendrix and Dylan, the jazz players I have drawn characters. I love their music but they were also "rock stars" before rock music existed. And when you learn about these musicians, it's more intense than you ever imagined.

Chet Baker's soft voice and languid playing of his portraying his inner demons like his addiction to his or her problems with the mob. Chet Baker had all of his teeth broken into his own trumpet by a gang he owed money to. Miles Davis once again showed up to Columbia Records with a gun to claim royalties. That's just the tip of the iceberg. These artists were furiously alive.

As for jazz music, I've been an avid listener since I was 8 years old. It's the art form that's always there by my side, a sort of constant soundtrack that accompanies my current mood.

When I start drawing, jazz music allows me to become completely immersed in my work. Classical music works too, especially Mozart. It's easier for me to con-centrate on what I'm doing when there are no words and it becomes like a sort of meditation.

Whether it's old dixie, be-bop or completely unhinged acid-jazz-rock like what Miles did in the 1970, I like how all the music under the "jazz" label offers up a variety moods that allow me to have many different rhythms of creation.

I find that jazz is the perfect conduit for improvisation. It's a dose of chaos sup-ported by an organized framework. I use this approach for some of my drawings where I colour outside the lines and use more spontaneous brush strokes.

When I start drawing, jazz music gets me completely immersed in my work. Classical music works too, especially Mozart. It's easier for me to concentrate on what I'm doing.

Whether it's old dixie, be-bop or completely unhinged acid-jazz-rock like what Did you know that I did not have a lot of music? creation.

I find that jazz is the perfect conduct for improvisation. It's a dose of chaos supported by an organized framework. I use this approach for some of my drawings where I color outside the lines and use more spontaneous brush strokes.

When I start drawing, jazz music allows me to become completely immersed in my work. Classical music works too, especially Mozart. It's easier for me to con-centrate on what I'm doing when there are no words and it becomes like a sort of meditation.

Whether it's old dixie, be-bop or completely unhinged acid-jazz-rock like what Miles did in the 1970, I like how all the music under the "jazz" label offers up a variety moods that allow me to have many different rhythms of creation.

I find that jazz is the perfect conduit for improvisation. It's a dose of chaos sup-ported by an organized framework. I use this approach for some of my drawings where I colour outside the lines and use more spontaneous brush strokes.

Visually, I see jazz as an abstraction that leans towards figurative art. For me, it's not only ambient music, it's a way to interact with my work.

As Miles Davis said, "There are no wrong notes in jazz!"

What about the fictional characters you draw? Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula? Why them?

Well, they fascinate and they have an aesthetic quality that I appreciate. Ever since I was a kid, I've been interested in Frankenstein. I had a teenager, I listened to old Universal Monsters horror movies that included The Invisible Man, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc.

I really like that type of aesthetic and I like the way it represents modern American culture. Ed Wood by Tim Burton.

What guides you in the way that you draw them?

As far as Frankenstein is concerned, he's not the monster - the real monster is his master. In reality, Frankenstein is a loving creature. We can see that in the movies when they really are: a kind, nonchalant soul. In my portrait of him, there's a flower missing some petals.

It'sa reference to a tragic scene in the classic Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. It's when he accidentally kills a young girl because he's nervous and scared. He ends up throwing a lake, much like you would a flower. I find it obvious how fragile and clumsy he is. He's unhappy with the world that surrounds him because it's out of reach and it fades and disappears at the slightest touch. Franky really is a beautiful character.

credits

Pictures: Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Translation from french: Peter Tardif

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© Affranchi - The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the author's consent

If I'm drawing Hendrix, there need to be a splash of ink all over my drafting table. In a way, I need to become Hendrix. The method and the results are totally different when I draw something else, like a scene filled with romance or melancholy. I adapt to what I'm illustrating. I work like a chameleon.

Do you have examples of how do you apply to your subject? Of working like a chameleon?

Yes. Bob Dylan. I drew a freehand sketch of him in one sitting with the intention of keeping a rough draft, with much looser lines. In the end, I kept going with the lines sometimes going through the illustration in a random way. I felt that made Dylan's poetry stick out. For me, this represents his character and personality.

What about Leloup?

I had a lot of difficulty doing Leloup. I did not want to be too realistic or have it too much. Jean is sensitive but he's also bubbling with ideas. His thoughts go in all directions at once and they are filled with the stories of the many different women he's met. He has two or three recurring subjects in his songs: girls, love and wandering - he's a traveler. That's who Leloup is. You know, I would not draw Gilles Vigneault. I did not have a good relationship but it would be missing something because I do not connect with his personality - we're too far apart.

I need to feel a connection with my subject so we can fuse together. The character that appears on paper. If not, I will not be satisfied with the result.

I 've done some drawings that are adequate, but I' m more difficult with my own work. I think it's a good thing but it can become more torturous!

You've done many portraits of musicians. There are Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Jaco Pastorious, Thelonious Monk, and so on. They all have their signature look but, they are all in black and white. What attracted you to them? Their aesthetics? Or their music?

Just like Hendrix and Dylan, the jazz players I have drawn characters. I love their music but they were also "rock stars" before rock music existed. And when you learn about these musicians, it's more intense than you ever imagined.

Chet Baker's soft voice and languid playing of his portraying his inner demons like his addiction to his or her problems with the mob. Chet Baker had all of his teeth broken into his own trumpet by a gang he owed money to. Miles Davis once again showed up to Columbia Records with a gun to claim royalties. That's just the tip of the iceberg. These artists were furiously alive.

As for jazz music, I've been an avid listener since I was 8 years old. It's the art form that's always there by my side, a sort of constant soundtrack that accompanies my current mood.

When I start drawing, jazz music gets me completely immersed in my work. Classical music works too, especially Mozart. It's easier for me to concentrate on what I'm doing.

Whether it's old dixie, be-bop or completely unhinged acid-jazz-rock like what Did you know that I did not have a lot of music? creation.

I find that jazz is the perfect conduct for improvisation. It's a dose of chaos supported by an organized framework. I use this approach for some of my drawings where I color outside the lines and use more spontaneous brush strokes.

Visually, I see jazz as an abstraction that leans towards figurative art. For me, it's not only ambient music, it's a way to interact with my work. As Miles Davis said, "There are no wrong notes in jazz!"

What about the fictional characters you draw? Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula? Why them?

Well, they fascinate and they have an aesthetic quality that I appreciate. Ever since I was a kid, I've been interested in Frankenstein. I had a teenager, I listened to old Universal Monsters horror movies that included The Invisible Man, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoonetc. I really like that type of aesthetic and I like the way it represents modern American culture. Ed Wood by Tim Burton.

What guides you in the way that you draw them?

As far as Frankenstein is concerned, he's not the monster - the real monster is his master. In reality, Frankenstein is a loving creature. We can see that in the movies when they really are: a kind, nonchalant soul. In my portrait of him, there's a flower missing some petals.

It'sa reference to a tragic scene in the classic Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. It's when he accidentally kills a young girl because he's nervous and scared. He ends up throwing a lake, much like you would a flower. I find it obvious how fragile and clumsy he is. He's unhappy with the world that surrounds him because it's out of reach and it fades and disappears at the slightest touch. Franky really is a beautiful character.

credits

Pictures: Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Translation from french: Peter Tardif

Share this

© Affranchi - The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the author's consent