For this edition of our international artist feature, we turn to France and feature a handful of illustrators and designers who create fantastic graphic design work and illustrative media. I asked each artist how their country and culture inspired their work, and they delivered fantastic answers. Enjoy!
Olivier is an artist from Paris, France, whose illustrative work is wonderfully expressive, having been inspired by comics and animation. You can check out his portfolio for more of his marvelous work, including a few pieces below.
Pirates on a Tree
"Art in France is at the crossroads of a lot of different art types. The tradition of Franco-Belgian comics is obviously very strong, but the manga culture is also very much present, as well as US comics, which is beginning to have more and more success with regular releases of the Marvel and Batman movies.
Meeting the Tiger-Wolf
"In the middle of that, you can add that France was a pioneer regarding animated movies and animation which still has a great impact in this country. Globalization works pretty well here as well, so Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks movies have huge success everywhere in the country.
Some Kind of Magic
"This melting pot helps people have lots of different influences and it is really enriching. When I was in art school, I saw many people as influences and it really opened the boundaries for me. I discovered the poetry of Japanese animation and expanded into other animation references.
Several Character Designs
"Without really realizing it, I included every one of these in my drawing and coloring style. Animation concept art found a special place in my reference portfolio and I try to adapt my work towards this kind of art.
"More and more, I try to make my drawing simpler but more efficient, I try to seek simple curves rather than vibrant and detailed lines. I also work more with solid colors rather than detailed volumes. I also try to fit this simple graphic style to the themes of children's books, as I am very interested in them."
Sylvain is a concept artist from Toulouse, France, whose illustrative work transports you to other worlds in glorious Technicolor. You can check out more of his work at his portfolio as well as some select pieces seen below.
Mars Pop Downtown
"I live in the south of France; it is a very sunny place and I think it shows in my illustrations. The vegetation and warm colors of my environment come from my memory of the city of my childhood. If I had the choice, I would never want winter!
World of Nyms Concept Art
"My generation has been fueled by Japanese animation in the late eighties; these cartoons often indulged peaceful morality. This pacifism was mixed with my French humanist culture, and I hope it can be felt in my work!"
Violaine & Jérémy
Violaine & Jérémy are a design duo from Paris, France, that specialize in art direction, illustration, and graphic design. Their work is incredibly elegant and interesting—you can see a handful of selected pieces below, and check out more in their portfolio.
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
"In our case, it’s quite obvious because we were born in France which has a very strong identity and a very rich past. Our country and our culture are quite the same for us. We can’t really dissociate one from the other.
"Jeremy is passionate about history and philosophy. These 2 subjects are very strong in our culture because we are a people (the French in general) of ideas, of intellect.
"It can be a good thing because only ideas can build a better world; only education and thinking can raise a people’s mind. It can be a bad thing because we are less in action than people in the US. It takes longer for us to transform our ideas into something real.
National Orchestra of Lorraine
"Anyway, it influences our work a lot because we always try to have this timeless aesthetic. We have many historical references that traveled through time and haven't aged. Our inspiration mostly comes from parts of history or from philosophical concepts.
"We like describing our work as timeless with a modern twist. This twist comes mostly from the irony, the off-beat humour we put in our work. It’s our way of adding perspective."
Zim & Zou
Zim & Zou, Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann, are a design duo based in Nancy, France. Their graphic work is primarily comprised of paper sculpture, though may also be a variety of materials like textiles and clay. You can check out their portfolio for more of their work as well as a small selection of images below.
The Art of Saving a Life
"I think that France influenced us to use paper as a main material. In fact, Lucie’s grandparents were working in a paper factory in the Vosges mountains. This is a well known place for its forest and quality paper production.
"Lucie kind of grew up in paper, so it was quite logical that it would help her to see this material in a different way when getting older.
Back to Basics
"As our culture is a composite of different cultures, it pushed us to stay open minded and curious about new materials, shapes or colors. But this point is more difficult because, to my mind, a country is a geographic space while culture tends to become ‘borderless'. It depends more on what you’re interested in. For instance, papercraft was more present in Asia (with origami, kirigami, etc…).
Vitamins & Placebo
"We were interested in discovering a lot of different cultures very early, picking up the things we liked the most in each and every culture. So of course we’ve been influenced by France, but not only France. We can see bits of Asian, African, or South American culture in our work (just to name a few).
The Answers Issue
"I think the internet is allowing people to share a lot more things than in the past, and we feel really excited by this culture blending. 'Citizens of the world', that’s an expression we like."
Zuco is an illustrator from Paris, France, whose vibrant vector artwork is brilliant and other-worldly. You can check out more of their work in their portfolio as well as a few pieces below.
"When was little boy I read French-Belgian comics such as Asterix and Gaston Lagaffe. These were possibly a starting point for artistic influence. Growing up in Paris, French media (poster/television) is another possible influence.
"Other influences were French graffiti from crew like PCP, artists like Mcbess, and Niark.
"Culture is more of an influence on my work than my country because today with the internet and social networks, we see more visuals from around the world.
"I can be inspired by the work of muxxi on Instagram, and a minute after by the work of Jared Nickerson on Behance, and the minute after another artist on Facebook. Another big influence has been by the old vinyl records from my dad (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc)."
Many thanks to the wonderful artists featured above. You can follow them further around the web at the links below: