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Pascal Campion Observing and illustrating life

August 7, 2013

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Pascal Campion is what I would call a keen observational illustrator.  He manages to not only capture an emotion so completely, but he also silently narrates the story behind the image to our subconscious at the same time.  Thus allowing us to bond with his images immediately and feel at one with what his characters are feeling. I contacted Pascal and asked a few searching questions, you can find his thoughtful and honest replies below.

What is your earliest memory, of an emotion ? 
That’s a good question… I remember a feeling of security as a young kid, I must’ve been about two or so… and everything felt warm and secure. I remember the night was starting to fall, it was warm inside, the TV was on, and I was having some cinammon cookies or some kind. More a feeling than an emotion I think, but that’s one of my earliest memories. Does that count?

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I feel your work is a celebration of life, there’s a definite energy running through it. Does the nature of working, help to lift your spirits if you’re having an ‘off day’, or are you generally an optimistic soul most of the time ?
I think I am mostly an optimistic soul… which is not to say that I am happy all the time. I get very upset , angry, sad, overly happy, bored, etc etc just as often,or even more often than anyone else. I get depressed and want to give up a lot as well, but the reason I say I am optimistic is that none of these states last very long. I tend to get back to being happy, at least on the inside. There have been periods of times when it wasn’t the case, mainly in my teen years, but it seems to always come back to this.
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How do you go about capturing the seasons and qualities of light with such dexterity ? Did it take you a long time to master these effects?
Ha.. that one made me smile because I feel like I’m trying to capture butterflies with a hammer in a way…. I don’t think I’ve gotten to a point where I feel.. That’s it.. I GOT IT. It’s more that I search for it , for the light and how we see it in every new piece I do. When I have a lot of energy and more time, I definitely “test” things a lot… for instance.. because I have been doing daily sketches for a while now, I tend to reuse some set ups for staging, lighting, storytelling that I know will work… and sometimes it’s just hard to get away from these.. but when I can, I’ll try something that I think can’t work and see if I can make it work. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.. but I like trying it. To answer the question about if it took me a long time.. well.. I think it’s been taking me my whole life, and I still think I have so much more to learn. That said.. It’s not because I don’t know everything that I don’t enjoy doing what I do. I have a lot of fun just exploring!
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What has been the worst thing you’ve been asked to illustrate and what has brought the most pleasure ?

The most pleasure are the pieces I don’t think I can do and manage to pull off. That’s when I’m feeling .. wow.. yeah.. I did that!! The worse things are when I just can’t pull it off..or worse.. when I don’t understand what I am being asked. I had this job not that long ago when I was asked to redesign the ad for a pharmaceutical product. The original ad was very graphic, with no illustration part to it. When I pointed that out to the client, they said they wanted me to give it my “touch” but I just couldn’t figure out what they actually wanted. Even if I was asking them, they couldn’t give me a clear answer.. so I did some sketches, and got pretty much fired after the first round because I was so far off. It was very frustrating.

The funny thing is that I’ve had jobs like this before when the clients finds my work, likes it and wants me to do something for them..only to realize that I don’t fit what they are looking for at all. I always tell myself that I won’t do these jobs anymore, but it’s not always easy to tell BEFORE you start the job if it’s going to be one of these or not. Inversely.. I had this one big job for which I thought I was not a good fit at all…and it turned out to be one of the best, if not the best job I ever worked on..and when they came to me, they were asking for some very painterly work, which I wasn’t doing all that much at the time.  They just thought I could do it, and they were right!

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Do you ever work with live models or photographs of buildings, nature etc or do the illustrations usually just derive from your imagination ?

I usually work out of my imagination..or memory.. I practice my memory a lot.. I will be walking down the street and see something I like, and I will describe that thing, that color, event , whatever it is with words, so I can remember it and recreate something like it when I get back to the studio.

That said.. more and more, the projects I have become specialized and I need reference for specific things, time periods, different parts of the world, cultural things, etc etc. I don’t use reference when I do my daily sketches though.

You talk about your illustrations being like stories, do you have longer stories to tell which may well become films or books one day ?

Yes and no. I am always creating little stories, and, before I started doing illustrations the way I do these days, I would do animations. I did tons of shorts and loved doing that.. I love telling stories. I would like to eventually tell longer stories, but I don’t want it to take over my personal life( life with my kids and my wife). Maybe when  the kids are a little older. Right now, I am pretty happy with what I do.

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How much do the seasons and weather affect your mood ?

A lot. As a matter of fact.. a lot of things affect my mood.. it always has. With time and age though, I’ve been able to control how much it affects me. I do use the different feelings I have in my images though.

You are a great observational illustrator. Do you see things in your daily travels and think ‘I wish I had my camera with me’ or can you retain the feelings, emotions and colours that go with that scene and somehow ‘reply’ them when you get back to your cad ?

Everyday! Literally..everyday..even If I just go out to get a coffee. As I am writing this, my son Colin is playing next to me with his little school bus toy and the way he is sitting will definitely pop up in some image at some point.

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Is there anywhere else you would like your work to be included that it isn’t already ? Plans or ambitions for the future ?

Ha.. you know.. this is a great question. A few years ago, I would probably been able to name every place I would have loved to see my work in, at.. people or companies I would have liked to work with.. but in the past two years, I’ve discovered so  that I had such a limited vision of the artworld, the industry that I feel a little foolish. I work with clients now that I never knew existed before, and I am loving this. I am working with different countries, and every one of them does things a little differently and it’s amazing. Sometimes easy, sometimes not, but always rewarding. It just makes me realize that there is so much more out there that I don’t know about and can’t wait to discover more.

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How exhilarating (or frightening) was it working for Dreamworks and Disney ?

I am always surprised when I work with them.. mainly because they keep coming back. I never feel like I do a good job with them and I think that comes from the fact that I get intimidated by all the phenomenal artists they have in all these companies.  I remember the first time I was at Dreamworks, walking through the corridors, I would read the names of people on the doors I was passing and seriously asked myself…what am I doing here? It was just so impressive. Then when I see the work they do on the same projects I am working on, I just scratch my head and on earth did they do this?

Now.. I try not to think too much about it and just do what I can, what I think is the best I can offer them. It’s very humbling to work with people like this.

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There’s also a whole lot of child centered illustrations that bubble out from time to time.

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Again I can really feel for this little duckling, caught in the downpour. A lot of Pascal’s Illustration works best on a BIG scale, it’s worth a trip over to his site to see it larger than I’ve been able to show it here.  There’s also more illustration popping up almost daily on his blog.

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We could do worse than listen to the message from his 2008 video for the alternative rock duo know as They Might Be Giants. Kids Go !

If you’re still hungry for more information, there are also a few question and answer sessions on Pascal’s site here  and on Hulu blog.

And to delve into Pascal’s world a little more watch this.

Beautiful emotive illustration Pascal. Many thanks again, for taking the time to so honestly answer the myriad of questions for the Fishink Blog readers and for showing us the light … well specifically your light !  Much appreciated : )

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the work of Tadahiro Uesugi.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2013 12:57 am

    Reblogged this on Vikings, Books, etc. and commented:
    Can’t help reblogging this interview w/ one of my favorite artists (of the last couple years), Pascal Campion. I also recommend Fishinkblog’s Blog, which features various interesting artists from around the web. I’ve enjoyed checking out The Art of Animation tumblr for a year or two now for inspiration and pleasure, and am glad to have found another art blog to keep up with in Fish Ink. I’ve been collecting a few “favorite artists” to inspire me as I attempt (occasionally) to get my own artwork out there a bit more often. Eunjung June Kim is another artist I’ve discovered (much more recently) who, like Pascal Campion, seems to have a knack for capturing everyday moments, domestic bliss, cozy romantic scenes, etc–all things a sap like me can really enjoy. Anyway, enjoy, and fingers crossed that I’ll get around to more of my own artwork sometime soon (or barring that, maybe Pascal or Eunjung can start doing Viking pictures as well…).

    • August 8, 2013 9:08 am

      Hi Carl, Great to have you with us (so to speak). Many thanks for re-blogging the post and for your thoughts and comments too. I will check out Eunjung June Kim’s work. Viking pictures eh… where did that love originate ? I remember seeing warriors of all kinds when I was younger on book covers for sci fantasy novels and in the detailed work of the likes of Ian Miller and those artists that Athena postcards featured back in the 70’s and 80’s. Hope to catch some of your work one day too. Thanks for reading.

      • August 8, 2013 7:03 pm

        Well, the Viking pics are just a consequence of being a Norse mythologist who likes to draw on the side. The material on my blog isn’t typically all that consistent topic-wise, but I try to keep the Viking/Scandinavian theme going every now and then…

  2. August 8, 2013 4:36 am

    really loved it. I congratulate to the interviewer for asking really good and perfect questions!

    And of course, Pascal Campion is an inspiration, that man is beyond amazing. We all know that he is an extraordinary talented artist. but what makes him really great person is that i think, he is still so down to earth!

    • August 8, 2013 8:57 am

      Thanks Sahil, I completely agree. Pascal is a grounded individual who just also happens to make fantastic illustration 🙂 a great combination.

  3. August 8, 2013 4:58 pm

    Thank you so much for this post–such wonderful and touching work!

  4. October 18, 2013 7:43 am

    so soooo Beautifull……

    • October 18, 2013 8:36 am

      Pascal’s work is amazing isn’t it. Thanks for the comments.

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