Questions of Social Media
Interview with Pierre Carles
Interview with Pierre CarlesArtist Spotlight
by Constanza Ehrenhaus
Pierre, tell us a little about you. What do you do for a living?
Well... I always was under the impression that having just one life was a bit too little and too boring. So I tried very early to combine several activities, as different and unrelated as possible. Right now I combine two artistic activities as an independent worker: illustration and music. And I have a third activity where creativity is also an important factor, but that one I will keep secret here. What's the point of having several lives if everyone knows it ? ;-)
As for my illustration work, I have mostly been focused on fantasy illustration in recent years, both because I have been a long-time fantasy lover, and because it is a genre where you can really find a regular flow of fun paid commissions. But recently, I started a secondary artistic activity as a make-up artist, in the field of body painting and stage SFX make-up. I hope that this second part will grow in importance too, it is quite fun and I get to meet a lot of very diverse people.
How do you manage to lead such a busy life and still have time for art?
The answer is: I don't. Well, not anymore so as I used to do when I was younger, at least. I used to run on 4-hours sleep a day, which left me a lot of time for my three main activities (and for family life as well). But, as Bilbo Baggins once said, "Age, it seems, has finally caught up with me" :-). So I had to slow down the pace a bit (which still means something between 50-60 hours of work a week). But I am realizing now that those more frequent "idle" times that I get are a real source of creativity too. Straining yourself too much is the shortest way to "dry yourself out", artistically speaking. This was a mistake I made for too long, and I will try not to make it again.
Do you find that living in Europe makes being a fantasy artists more challenging?
It definitely does, mostly because the market is much smaller here, and also because there is a much more pronounced frontier between so-called "fine art" and illustration. For instance, access to galleries is nearly impossible except for the biggest names: In Paris, you can find more than 1000 art galleries, yet less than 10 are fully dedicated to illustration. Similarly, conventions are much scarcer in Europe than in the US, so showcasing your work is harder.
But luckily, the internet has made this difference between the US and Europe much less of a limitation to business. As a matter of fact, a good 80% of my clients are from the US, where the market for fantasy illustration is really big. And it does not matter to professional clients where the printable pdf files come from!
On the good side, though, living in Europe is certainly a marvelous richness when it comes to inspiration. You cannot have a 15-minutes walk through Paris without bumping into a XIIth century church, a Xth century fortification wall, or even roman arenas from the first century. Not to mention the tremendous number of museums you find in most European capitals. All this make wonderful sources of genuine inspiration.
Maybe this is precisely the reason why the market for fantasy is so big in the US compared to here: there may be less demand here for this kind of imagery, because just strolling in most big cities already confronts you with a constant opportunity for day-dreaming about a distant and often fantasized past.
What about Japanese art? How did your love for it emerge?
I used to be fascinated by the "otherworldly" character of East-Asian art, and particularly for Chinese classical pre-Ming painting. What was impressive to me was the scarcity of means used to represent universal impressions that anyone could relate to, even thousands of miles and centuries apart. But when I discovered Japanese culture, the shock was even stronger, mostly for one reason: Throughout its history, Japan has shown an extraordinary ability to integrate foreign influences of all kinds (artistic, religious, scientific, literary, etc.), while at the same time always remaining true to its core culture. I have no other example in mind of such an amazing cultural "plasticity", for lack of a better word. Maybe it is due to that very peculiar mixture of animistic traditions (the Shinto religion and its intimate relation to nature and territory) and Buddhism ("Reality is Change", a view of the world in which nothing is meant to be static or long-lasting _ let alone eternal). But it would take an anthropologist's or historicist's view to really explain the reasons of this peculiarity, which I, for one, perceive and analyze just as the average lay-person.
What is with the panda? And with the zombies?
Well... I always felt some close connection to panda bears since I grew a beard and put on more weight than I would have liked to ;-) But also, sleep deprivation has long given me these characteristic "black-circled eyes" which, in a way, are reminiscent of panda bears. And of zombies too.
I guess you never thought about that connection between pandas and zombies, did you ? ;-)
Where can our readers find your art?
My official website is accessible at www.pierrecarles.com.
For the Facebook-inclined, Fantasy.Art.of.Pierre.Carles is the place to "Like".
And I also maintain a Deviant Art gallery at carles.deviantart.com. I recently spent an evening with two of the original founders of DeviantArt (including DA's CEO, Angelo), and I can tell you that these people have amazing development projects in store. If they succeed (and they sure have the skills to), DA is going to be very big in future years.
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