I have always been drawing. As far as I can remember, I’ve always had a pen or brush in my hand. I can still see myself, at the age of two, in the kitchen hesitating between two shades of blue. I soon became obsessed with René Gruau’s work when I saw a retrospective of his most famous illustrations in an early issue of Madame Figaro magazine. I can remember women with blue hair, men in the shadow of a huge “C”, fluid yet strong lines… Later on, I was also influenced by Andy Warhol’s early work, the magic of Antonio Lopez, the hard shapes of Constance Wibaut, the windy portraits by Just Jaeckin, and the great Mauro Balletti.
I’ve worked a lot with my brother for French singers, and have done some film posters, too. I’ve had a lot of fun and I realized my childhood dream. But I want to tell more.
To me creating means bringing your own inner vision to the world – that is making your most private fantasies go public. It’s always disturbing, moving, painful yet magical. Thus, it tells a lot about who you are.
The process inevitably leads to fashion. You may be defined by your choices, the colors or shapes you choose to wear, and the way you wear them. There’s a lot more to fashion illustration than mere reproduction of fabrics and precious clothes. I think attitude is key. You choose clothes, which allow you to adopt an attitude; they make you fit in an atmosphere of some kind.
Therefore, I always try to focus not only on the geometrical shape of the gown and the lines on which I’d like to draw the watcher’s attention, but also on the dream it suggests. It first requires a lot of pre-work, research, sketches, and attempts to get the essence, the strong lines of the garment and to understand the designer’s intention. That’s also when I try to stage them.
I’m not comfortable with faceless models. I need to create something that’s alive, dancing… I need to hear music. I believe that’s the way my Italian roots show. I want my illustrations to tell a story, but without words. I want the watchers to get the personality of my models. It’s part of this whole imagery; I consider clothes as pearls – they die if no one wears them. I try to make it witty and desirable at the same time.
I always follow the same ritual – I use soft rigid white paper, ink or water paint. I like when it’s fluid and when it seems effortless – though it’s not. I always try to get rid of useless lines. My sketches are first complicated, and then I try to simplify them as much as I can. Less is more. I try to give the most graphic rendition of the clothes I choose to illustrate. I can draw anywhere… as long as the light is good. | Marc-Antoine Coulon