We’re always raving about the supremely-talented Pascal Campion here on TC – having previously interviewed him and posted up some of his rainy doodles. Well,...
Pascal Campion is a San Francisco based illustrator and animator who can knock out breath-taking work as fast as a speeding bullet. He very kindly contributed to last year’s Xmas Project that we ran so we decided it was high time we caught up with him for a chat.
Hello and a long-overdue welcome to Thunder Chunky! How are you today?
I am good thank you. And you?
We’re all good thanks! Tell us about yourself in 3 easy-to-follow steps.
I play a lot.
You’re known for your ability to fire out illustrations at really fast speeds. Is this something you’ve had to learn over the years or have you always been able to do it?
I’ve always been fairly fast, but I got much faster when I started working at Bent Image Labs, an animation studio in Portland Oregon. We were doing commercials, and since the company was a start-up at the time, we’d work all hours of the day, every day. We were so hungry for the jobs that we’d work harder than any other place I’d worked at before, or since actually.
The people I worked with, David Daniels, Chel White and Ray Dicarlo were all veterans of the commercial field and they taught me a lot about pacing myself, knowing how to complete a project, and how to deal with a heavy work load. They were true mentors to me.
You try to produce a new illustration every day. What’s the first thing you do when you sit down in front of a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen?
I do a mark on the page, whether it’s virtual or actual paper. Once there is a mark, there’s no fear of not drawing something. It’s a funny thing, but it works every single time!
You do a lot of animation work, what are the main challenges when putting together an animation?
Oh god… there are so many for me. I never thought of myself as a good animator, and, honestly, for a long time, I didn’t see myself as a real animator because I’d never been taught that in school. I didn’t know the basic rules for a long time, and I always had the impression I was cheating everybody by making them think that what I did was animation. Funny, no?
Hence, every piece I did was exhilarating at first, but I always felt that after the first pass, things just kept going downhill, and the end result was lousy.
It took me a lot of coaching from the guys at Bent to realize that animation is a much larger area than just Disney or Pixar.
Now, one of the main struggles I have is to simply find the time to do one!
When I do get the chance, I usually struggle a bit at the beginning because I want everything to flow effortlessly, and I work very hard on the timing. Much more than anything else actually. The drawings themselves always take a second place to the timing of the whole piece. Then I spend whatever time I have left trying to make it easy on the eyes.
Your illustrations have a real feel of traditional animation to them, what things do you think have influenced your style?
I was very influenced by graphic novels while I was growing up. That’s what I wanted to do. Not animation, but graphic novels.
I also had a very strict instructor in College who would make us draw 100 sketches per week as a prerequisite to be in his class. It wasn’t even considered homework, but just the bare minimum you had to do to stay in the class. Then came the homework, and that was also pretty intense.
This training helped me a lot with my figure drawing, especially for action, and quick sketching.
I think graphic novels and movies influenced me a lot as well.
You were born and studied in France but now live in California. What are your favorite things about France, and what are your favorite things about California?
Ah! That’s a mistake a lot of people make.
I was actually born in New Jersey! Yup! Not that I know what it looks like (I have heard very mixed things about it… good and not so good!), but we moved back to France a little before I turned two.
I grew up mainly in the south of France, and went to school in Strasbourg, which is almost on the border of Germany, but still in France. (Although a lot of people from that region would beg to differ that Strasbourg, being part of a region called Alsace Lorraine, is neither French nor German)
My favorite things about France? Hmmmm…
I remember, before coming to the states that I was afraid I wouldn’t have the same exposure to Graphic Novels, and sadly, that is true. The French arts are definitely very different than what you can find in the states.
Bread, of course, and ‘fromage blanc’¬ù which is a type of yogurt we have in France that I can’t seem to find here in the states!
As for California, I really only know San Francisco, since this is where I live. I’ve traveled here and there, but I just LOVE San Francisco. The people, the city, the weather, the culture and the food. Nothing wrong here, except maybe the earthquakes!
I know you have to stay tight-lipped about a lot of the projects you are currently working on but can you tell us anything about any of the projects you’ve been involved in this year?
That would be a long discussion considering the amount of projects I’ve worked on, and am still working on.
I can say I’ve dabbled in Games, Music Videos, TV series, print, commercials, books, cell phone animation and am just entering the field of Toys!
The year is not yet over though, and I do have one or two more exciting projects forming right now.
A lot of artists find music a great inspiration to them. Are you the same? If so, what music gets your creative juices flowing?
I get so much more inspired by music than by illustrators or animators. I really try and listen to a little bit of everything, from Pop to Rap, Hip Hop, Jazz, dance and country.
My iTunes lists Mozart, Gwen Stefanie, The Roots, Shania Twain, Beyonce, They Might Be Giants, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Charlie Brown’s Xmas, Shaft and more.
The beats are the basis of all my animations, even the ones that don’t have music in them. It’s all about the rhythm.
Finally, what’s the one thing everybody should do today?
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