Pascal Campion is a French-American illustrator and animator creating beautiful works of art. I chatted with him about his process, style and of course, bicycles!
Tell us about your art, where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from a little bit all over the place. Most of it comes from my family, but also , these days, from where I live. It’s winter here, but a mild one, and the lights in the evenings and mornings is just sumptuous and I’ve been trying to capture it a lot. I am pretty seasonal that way. My art tends to change with the seasons, or with the events that happen in my life. I use to worry a little about that, about the fact that I didn’t like “sticking” to one thing, but I realized that it was actually a good thing for me.
What is your creative process like?
I sit down and I draw and color and try to finish my image all at once. I am one of those people who doesn’t have a lot of patience. I like things to go fast. When I want to do something I usually just do it, which has it’s good and bad things. the good thing is that I get it done, the not so good thing is that I don’t plan ahead nearly as much as I could or should. I have tried that but it doesn’t work well for me. I can do it and do some planning when I am working for clients, but I always feel like my work comes out a little stilted.. which is probably why I’ve been naturally going toward clients that let me be fresh and spontaneous in my work.
I do a lot of preproduction work where this is the main type of images I do.. conceptual ones.I also work with Magazines with tight deadlines which lets me be loose too.
Why use flash and photoshop?
I’ve been using flash for the longest of time because that was the only software I knew how to use.
Recently, i switched from a PC to a MAC and my version of Flash doesn’t work on a Mac so I had to go to something else and Photoshop was the only other drawing software I was starting to get familiar with..so.. that’s that.
I’m pretty lazy when it comes to learning new tools. Once again, I am a little too impatient. I like to learn by doing things and when it comes to sitting down and hitting every button to figure out what it does, I get bored. I’d rather do a few images that mean something to me, even if they are not great, than practicing shapes and colors just for the sake of it.
How do you differentiate your art from others? What’ makes your pieces unique?
Hmmm… Interesting question. I don’t know that I ask myself that question. I feel my art is simple and my stories very common. I like that actually, i am not saying that as a bad thing but more because that is what I like to draw. That said, a lot of people draw the same types of themes and subject as me.
We all have different points of view though and each time I draw a scene I try and make it personal. What I mean by that is that I try to honestly ask myself what was I feeling, what was I thinking, what am I trying to capture in the image rather than do an image that I think people want to see. ( once again, I am not the only person doing this type of thing, but everybody perceives events and situations differently, so even if you get ten people to make an image on the same event, you’ll get ten different images) .
I suppose what makes my images different than others is that I am a different person than the next artist who will also be different than another artist.
By the way… being yourself as an artist, or as a person is easier to say than to do. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to draw about . When I was younger I was so influenced by what I was reading, by the people around me that it took me a long long time to figure out what I really wanted to do.
What is it about your chosen medium that calls to you?
I really like to draw.
Do you have plans to experiment with other forms of expression?
Maybe writing a little. Definitely not singing.. I can’t do it, nor acting, too self conscious, and I don’t think I’d be a good cliff diver..so.. far the moment I think I’ll stick to art.
Do you have any favourite pieces and why?
I do. I have a few actually. Some like Skipping stones, or more recently one called ” The Sunday trip comes to an end”, or something like the the Camper van.
I usually like a piece because of what it reminds me of. For the camper van one for instance, I did it with all my children sitting either on me, or my desk or on the back of my chair and asking me to draw an alligator, a bunk bed, etc etc.. all the stuff you see in the image. And My wife suggested making the camper van all black to make it stick out…so that image is a true combination of all our visions put together and I love it for that.
Others , like skipping stones for instance is one of the first images in which I thought i really captured an emotion that was dear to me. I use to spend my summers in Alaska as a kid, and it was the best time of my life. My dad would take me fishing and we’d skip stones sometimes. The image in itself never happened, but the emotion, the feel of it feels true to me. That was the first time I realized that the emotion and the feeling of truth is not necessarily attached to the exact rendition of the moment but of you perceived it and felt it. I know it sounds a little dramatic the way i said it, but in essence, that image was a breakthrough for me in regards to what art can do for me .
What artists do you admire?
All of them.
Art is not easy. Not only do you have to learn certain skills, but mainly, you put a lot of yourself into it.. I admire anybody who does that.
What was the last great book you read?
Le petit Garcon by Philippe Labro. I’ve read all of his books about his youth and love them all
Can you talk to us about your successful Kickstarter campaign?
Sure… We wanted to make a big book with most of my images but when we were looking at prices for it we realized that it was going to be pretty expensive, so we deceived we were going to do a kickstarter to help with the funding. Obviously, we didn’t really know what we were getting into. If you just look at our video, it’s just me talking in approximation about what we wanted to do, how big the book was going to be. In our backyard. In one of the takes you can see our dog running around.. I mean, we were really not sure at all of what we were doing and .. we got funded! So that was a huge surprise.
Then we got the book done and that was also a whole entire can of worms in itself because we couldn’t just treat it like the previous sketchbooks we were doing. Something that was that big needed more attention so we hired a friend of ours to help with the graphic design of the book and it was a process. She did a great job though.
My wife laid out most of it ..she lays out all of the books we put out, but, wow..what an amazing job she did on this.. the way she would pair images together or chose from the amount of images I have.. it’s a lot of work to go through 3000 images.
The next step though.. sending them out.. wow.. Our whole house transformed into a warehouse( and still is to some degree).
We never realized how much material we were going to need to ship out all the books, prints, calendars etc etc.. we literally have work stations.. the living room table, the garage, the play room.. we have boxes and boxes everywhere. Books, shipping packages, the printers are going full speed all the time.. it’s crazy. Fun but crazy. We thought it was going to take a few weeks, maybe a month but we’re still going at it.
Definitely an interesting experience.
Why do you ride ?
I ride a bicycle yes, as much as I can( meaning that it is harder these days to find time to go on long bike rides).
I’ve always ridden bicycles actually. growing up in the South of France that’s how I would go from place to place. Even in college, I had a car for a little while but eventually sold it because I would never use it.. I would just ride my bike everywhere. I just like it, it makes me feel alive .
What fun places have you travelled with your bike (local/international)…where are your favourite places to go by bicycle?
When I was a kid in France, we would bike all over the place.. my step dad would take us on those grand tours and it was fantastic. In the US, I biked a lot around California.. in Alaska as well.. but we had BMX’s that we used as mountain bikes ..not knowing that there was a difference.
What can we expect to see from you in the future? More books?