INTERVIEW

Method

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

Fred's method often resembles a collage of ideas, themes and Scenes. Much like a song, some of his illustrations and their relationship to a first glance. While walking with Fred in a park, I tried to learn more about his creative process and the different steps.

How do you go from an idea to a final image? What's your approach from one project to another?

Usually, I start with some skits and try and create a particular mood. These lead to rough drawings and I usually make several small thumbnails on one or more pages. Those thumbnails serve as composition tests.

I'm trying to get along with someone I'm trying to get across. That's when the real work begins: I make the image larger and I clean up the blurred lines by adding details. And this is where the research work kicks in. It's going out of the art direction for a movie.


Everything that's not happening in the drawing, or the backstory or what could be place after the scene I'm portraying, could be suggested by certain elements in the image.

It's one of the aspects of my work I'm most passionate about. If I do not know what it's going to be, what's happening or what's the illustration's about. They can easily fill the gaps on their own.

What sources do you use when you're researching for an illustration?

It involves a lot of reading. For example, if I draw a particular article of clothing, I'll start with a few sketches, but then I'll be able to look at the history of that piece, its different styles, and the story behind it. It's often fascinating. When I'm doing this, I use peer reviewed sources, photographs, art history books, even fashion magazines.


They allow me to document the whole process and give me ideas. My work on The Blue Dragon pushed me to approach projects in this manner and develop this method. For that project, I had to draw modern China really well. But I did not know anything about China and I'd never be there. So I spent a lot of time researching everything down to the last detail. I really appreciated that part of the workload and nowadays, I use this method for all of my projects.

You mentioned fashion magazines. How do they come in handy?

Photographers and Illustrators Vogue, for example Horst, David Bailey and Rene Gruau, inspire me. Their job is to give a personality to the attitude they are portraying in their work speaks to me.

Some of my recent illustrations are using their approach, like my series on Horai, which is my take on the four seasons, gold Aneris, which is inspired by mythology. With these drawings, I was able to experiment with a different type of illustration.

For me, it's foray into expressionism. And much like the work of some fashion designers and photographers that I like, like Irving Penn, Helmut Newton or Alexander McQueen, these illustrations are much darker and yet classy at the same time, which speaks to me a lot. They're bold, defined, cold and revolve around the character's inner strength.

Speaking of archetypes, I've recently started researching the commedia dell'arte and its characters, Scaramouche, Pierrot and the others, and I find it really interesting! I like how the story unfolds and how it's transformed into a movie. I love using stories like these as inspiration for subtext in my drawings, without making it obvious. For me, adding details that contribute to the illustration in a larger sense and are never insignificant.

You've mentioned names of photographers and talked about music, movies and fashion ... but we talked about the illustrators that inspire you. Who are they?

These days, I'm really into painting and there's one painter in particular. I really like: Caspar David Friedrich. His name is often mentioned to me in relation to one of my illustrations - Rooftop Inspiration. - goal I've only recently discovered him.

After hearing his name so often, I will be able to do this. - Wanderer Above the Sea Fog. I bought a book of his paintings and it spoke to me a lot. The composition in his work is similar to mine and so are his themes. Perhaps we're from different eras but have the same fetishes.



I do not have any formal art or art history training, so it's really through research that I've come to discover so many great artists. As I've become more interested in art history, I've started to get the feeling that there's a certain coherence to what I'm doing. That's allowed me to look back and reflect on how I go about creating my art.

There are so many illustrators that inspire me: Norman Rockwell, Bernie Fuchs, Edward Hopper, Moebius, Bilal, Ottomo, Fred (Philemon), Hugo Pratt, Jamie Hewlett ... there are so many good artists!

We touched on archetypes earlier. Are there eras and / or characters that often come up in your work?

Yes, they are often pensive observers or travelers. in Rooftop, The character is standing on a snowy rooftop in New York, surrounded by the city's buildings. in Beyond the Boundaries, A woman is standing in the desert and looking towards the horizon, as if she's getting ready to face a storm or to reach a point of no return. There are a lot of these kinds of characters in my illustrations for The Blue Dragon, especially in the transition scenes, which are not in the original play. I added them to the graphic novel to give depth to the characters outside dialogue scenes.

These pauses isolate them and bring back some of the dramatic tension to the story.



You've probably been asked this before: do you think you'll do comics again someday?

What I do not like about comics is how long they take to research, scriptwriting and storyboarding is done. In fact, I feel like I have to play the role of some sort of scribe. Maybe I'm not patient enough, maybe I'm just giving myself the liberty to move on from one style to the next. Right now, what I prefer to do is to draw series of images that tell the fundamental part of a story while leaving the rest to people's imaginations.

The Blue Dragon represented 200 pages of drawings. I saw what it takes to do that kind of work and I do not think I have the right temperament to do that my whole life. Drawing takes patience and concentration, I hate it! But you know, never say never!

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


Interview

Method

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

Fred's method often resembles a collage of ideas, themes and Scenes. Much like a song, some of his illustrations and their relationship to a first glance. While walking with Fred in a park, I tried to learn more about his creative process and the different steps.

How do you go from an idea to a final image? What's your approach from one project to another?

Usually, I start with some skits and try and create a particular mood. These lead to rough drawings and I usually make several small thumbnails on one or more pages. Those thumbnails serve as composition tests.

I'm trying to get along with someone I'm trying to get across. That's when the real work begins: I make the image larger and I clean up the blurred lines by adding details. And this is where the research work kicks in. It's going out of the art direction for a movie.

Everything that's not happening in the drawing, or the backstory or what could be place after the scene I'm portraying, could be suggested by certain elements in the image.

It's one of the aspects of my work I'm most passionate about. If I do not know what it's going to be, what's happening or what's the illustration's about. They can easily fill the gaps on their own.

What sources do you use when you're researching for an illustration?

It involves a lot of reading. For example, if I draw a particular article of clothing, I'll start with a few sketches, but then I'll be able to look at the history of that piece, its different styles, and the story behind it. It's often fascinating. When I'm doing this, I use peer reviewed sources, photographs, art history books, even fashion magazines.

They allow me to document the whole process and give me ideas. My work on The Blue Dragon pushed me to approach projects in this manner and develop this method. For that project, I had to draw modern China really well. But I did not know anything about China and I'd never be there. So I spent a lot of time researching everything down to the last detail. I really appreciated that part of the workload and nowadays, I use this method for all of my projects.

You mentioned fashion magazines. How do they come in handy?

Photographers and Illustrators Vogue, for example Horst, David Bailey and Rene Gruau, inspire me. Their job is to give a personality to the attitude they are portraying in their work speaks to me.

Some of my recent illustrations are using their approach, like my series on Horai, which is my take on the four seasons, gold Aneris, which is inspired by mythology. With these drawings, I was able to experiment with a different type of illustration.

For me, it's foray into expressionism. And much like the work of some fashion designers and photographers that I like, like Irving Penn, Helmut Newton or Alexander McQueen, these illustrations are much darker and yet classy at the same time, which speaks to me a lot. They're bold, defined, cold and revolve around the character's inner strength.

Speaking of archetypes, I've recently started researching the commedia dell'arte and its characters, Scaramouche, Pierrot and the others, and I find it really interesting! I like how the story unfolds and how it's transformed into a movie. I love using stories like these as inspiration for subtext in my drawings, without making it obvious. For me, adding details that contribute to the illustration in a larger sense and are never insignificant.

You've mentioned names of photographers and talked about music, movies and fashion ... but we talked about the illustrators that inspire you. Who are they?

These days, I'm really into painting and there's one painter in particular. I really like: Caspar David Friedrich. His name is often mentioned to me in relation to one of my illustrations - Rooftop Inspiration - goal I've only recently discovered him.

After hearing his name so often, I will be able to do this. - Wanderer Above the Sea Fog. I bought a book of his paintings and it spoke to me a lot. The composition in his work is similar to mine and so are his themes. Perhaps we're from different eras but have the same fetishes.

I do not have any formal art or art history training, so it's really through research that I've come to discover so many great artists. As I've become more interested in art history, I've started to get the feeling that there's a certain coherence to what I'm doing. That's allowed me to look back and reflect on how I go about creating my art.

There are so many illustrators that inspire me: Norman Rockwell, Bernie Fuchs, Edward Hopper, Moebius, Bilal, Ottomo, Fred (Philemon), Hugo Pratt, Jamie Hewlett ... there are so many good artists!

We touched on archetypes earlier. Are there eras and / or characters that often come up in your work?

Yes, they are often pensive observers or travelers. in Rooftop, The character is standing on a snowy rooftop in New York, surrounded by the city's buildings. in Beyond the Boundaries, A woman is standing in the desert and looking towards the horizon, as if she's getting ready to face a storm or to reach a point of no return. There are a lot of these kinds of characters in my illustrations for The Blue Dragon, especially in the transition scenes, which are not in the original play. I added them to the graphic novel to give depth to the characters outside dialogue scenes.

These pauses isolate them and bring back some of the dramatic tension to the story.

You've probably been asked this before: do you think you'll do comics again someday?

What I do not like about comics is how long they take to research, scriptwriting and storyboarding is done. In fact, I feel like I have to play the role of some sort of scribe. Maybe I'm not patient enough, maybe I'm just giving myself the liberty to move on from one style to the next. Right now, what I prefer to do is to draw series of images that tell the fundamental part of a story while leaving the rest to people's imaginations.

The Blue Dragon represented 200 pages of drawings. I saw what it takes to do that kind of work and I do not think I have the right temperament to do that my whole life. Drawing takes patience and concentration, I hate it! But you know, never say never!

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

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