Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 27, 2018

Illustrator Saturday -Christopher Jacques

Christophe always wanted to be an artist, ever since he was a kid. He studied at the LUCA school of arts in Brussels, specializing in illustration. Christophe graduated in 2008 and since then he has been gradually making a living as an artist. He focuses on illustrations for children and he has worked with clients all over the world. He loves to create bright worlds with lots of colors and happy faces.

Although he mainly works digitally, Christophe always carries a sketchbook, making sketches all of the time. Christophe lives and works in Flanders, Belgium.

Here is Christophe discussing his process:

This is a doodle I made for #inktober. I always wanted to turn it into a digital drawing.

I load the drawing into Illustrator and I trace it with the brush tool. It changes a lot, it becomes almost a new drawing.

I turn the lines into shapes and add color to them. I also start texturing them. With the brush tool I add lines and create shadows.

Finally I put an image of cardboard on top, set it on color burn 10 percent and add some white scratch. This makes it almost look “painted”.

Interview with Christophe Jacques

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been drawing as long as I remember. When I was five years old, my teachers in kindergarten were already saying I had to go to art school. So from that time it became my goal in life to be an artist. After graduating I started doing some commissions. It was only in 2016 that I started to take it more seriously. And realized I can make a living as an illustrator, if I work hard enough. Well, I’m not a full-time illustrator yet, but I am on my way. Or at least I hope I am!

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

I was twelve years old and a local doctor needed a drawing of a lion. I think I got ten bucks for it… I don’t remember exactly why he needed it. It was more than twenty years ago.

What made you choose LUCA School of Arts in Brussels?

I love Brussels and they had a very free, but professional approach. And some great artists studied there, but don’t ask me names (haha) I had a great time studying there an I learned a lot.

Did the art school delve into children’s illustrating while you were there?

I followed a course called digital illustration. And we had all kind of assignments. Illustrations for kids were part of that. But back then I was focusing on comic art. I still want to make a comic or a graphic novel some day.

Did the school help you find illustration work?

Not really. But sometimes the teachers informed us of ongoing contests and the like. So in 2007 I submitted my design for a Trexi designer toy, which got into production.

Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

Yes, because they gave us freedom and really helped me to develop my own style. However, my style is very different now. But I always have their principles in my mind.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

I was unemployment for almost 2 years. After graduating I started looking for a job, but the economical crisis broke out and hit the creative market very hard. And also, I guess an artistic degree is the fastest way to unemployment (haha). After some time I got a job in the automotive industry. I’m still doing this today. Being an illustrator is my secondary activity. When I ‘m absolutely sure I can make a living as an full-time illustrator, I will resign. I have no problem writing this. They know! I told this to them on my first day (haha).

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I kept drawing after graduating, more for myself really. I didn’t take it very seriously. I did commissions however. Mostly portraits, with traditional techniques. In 2016 my sister was pushing me to start an Instagram page. She told me that there were many great artist on Instagram. I didn’t had a clue what Instagram was though. I didn’t even had a smartphone. But I started drawing and posting at a high rate, got inspired by other illustrators and slowly I got the feeling I lean the most towards illustrations for kids. I myself still feel like a kid, so that’s maybe another reason. And at one point in my life I even was a real kid (haha).

Have you illustrated a picture book or book dummy?

No, but it’s high on the list. Very high! So if any editors are reading this: please hire me! I’m available! (haha)

How many picture books have you illustrated?

None. But again: high on my list!

How did you find representation with the CAT Agency?

I was following them on Instagram. And they followed me back! I absolutely love the artists they represent. Later, I was thinking of seeking representation and I had send my work to another big agency. Coincidentally a few days later I got a mail from Christy Tugeau, asking me if she could represent me on the US market. I was so surprised. I always thought my art is okay maybe, but not good enough for their standard. Because they work and have worked with the big names. I’m so honored that they want to represent me. I still can’t believe it! But this was an offer I couldn’t refuse. They are a world class agency! And Christy is really “out there”, seeking the best of the best for her group of illustrators.

Are there publishers in Europe that you work with?

I made an illustration for a small Belgian publisher a few years ago. It was a drawing of a cat for a poetry book. But now my style has completely changed. I hope all copies are lost. I keep mine hidden deeply in my archives, and hopefully no one will ever see it.(haha)

Have you done any book covers?

No, but I would love to do that. I did the cover for the magazine of Demo 8, a comic magazine published by my school, with the work of the graduates. I also hope there aren’t much copies left.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

Yes, If I’m able to write a good story. I have ideas, but I find it hard to write. I’m never sure if the things I write are any good. I think I need good guidence if I ever going to do that.

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Yes, actually I’m currently in the process of doing so. I got contacted by a young writer a couple of months ago. He has send me an awesome script, and now I’m busy making illustrations for that. He’s going to distribute it on Amazon, once I’m ready with the art. We’ll see where it gets from there.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

No, I haven’t… yet.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

Again no, I didn’t. But it’s also high on my list. And I’m gonna send my portfolio to Storytime magazine for sure. Would love to be in there! Now that I think of it: Apparently I have a long list of things I still want and need to do. 

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

Yes, I have ideas for wordless comics. Funny shorts. Like Carl Anderson’s Henry or E. O. Plauen’s Father and Son comics.

What do you think is your biggest success?

My use of hastags on Instagram (haha). No seriously, I don’t know. Getting representation by The Cat Agency sure is a highlight for me. And people following me on Instagram. I still can’t believe it! Why would they do that? Don’t get me wrong, it’s sweet and I feel very honoured. Or maybe they just feel sorry for my bad drawings (haha). Am I good? I don’t know. I don’t like my own work so much. But I think it’s getting better. I can live with some of my recent drawings. But when I look at older work I always want to make changes. I realise that I’m only getting started and I still have to learn a lot. I try to be very self-aware of all my artistic shortcomings. I can’t draw very well, but I can hide that with my use of color. I think the colors and the happy faces are what people find the most attractive in my art. And I try to be funny now and then when it comes to the subjects.

What type of things do you do to find illustration work?

Well, there’s Instagram of course. That has been a powerful tool in spreading my drawings. I also want to build my website, I need to update my Behance, I need to make a Tumblr for sure. I still have a blog somewhere (oops, totally forgot the name!). I love drawing, but being an illustrator is so much more than drawing. It’s almost 50/50 for me. Fifty percent is drawing, the rest is networking. I try to balance it. Some illustrators spend more time on networking than on drawing. That’s cool, but I can’t do that. I just want to draw. Maybe that why having a agent is great. They do the stuff I don’t like doing. And they know exactly which project is perfect for you.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love both traditional and digital. But for commissions I always draw digitally nowadays. It’s faster, and I’m more in control. It’s easier to change things. Because clients always need changes. Arrggghhhh….Has that changed over time? Yes, when I did portrait commissions in the beginning, I used to draw and paint with pencils and acrylics. I would love to pick that up again one day, when I have more time. Maybe even make a book in a more “sketchy” style.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

I’m currently in the process of doing so. My father was in construction and I picked up a thing or two. Actually it’s fun, because it’s very similar to creating art. I discovered I love working with wood. I would love to do a woodworking course one day.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

As much as I can really. I have my normal day job of course which take a lot of time, but when I come home I just start drawing. And after the bulk of work is finished I spent time with my girlfriend, family and friends. Nowadays I spend most of my time working on my art career. But once I’m a full-time freelancer I will give them more time. Promised!

Do you take pictures or do any type of research before you start a project?

Yes! Google is very handy tool. I like to use documentation. Everything needs to be credible. I don’t take pictures though. Still have to figure out the camera on my smartphone.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. Without the internet it would more difficult to have my work out there. How did people do that back in the day? It took way more effort to spread your art. All the commissions I got in the past year were only possible because of the Internet.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Adobe Illustrator. I love drawing with vectors. It’s almost like how a sculptor works. I really model the shapes into illustrations.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

I bought a Cintiq a couple of months ago. I use it for making sketches in Photoshop. And sometimes I use it for drawing in Adobe Illustrator. That last might not be very logical, but I enjoy it very much, drawing lines with the brushes and improve them later with a regular computer mouse.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

Yes! Let me see: of course, doing picture book is my absolutely number one priority. And I also would love to make a graphic novel some day. And work with a good writer. Hello Mac Barnett? (haha)

What are you working on now?

Several things. An illustration for Focus on the Family magazine (my first commission through my agent). I’m making some drawings for an old teacher of mine. He writes bittersweet stories, and I provide the art. And, as I said before, I’m working on a book.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

People ask me a lot about my textures. How I make my art give “that look”. A tip for people who work digitally: Find, or take a picture of cardboard and put it on top of your artwork. Put it on multiply, color burn or overlay. Or whatever looks right. It makes your drawing look more pixelated. But in a good way. It’s great if you work with vectors, like I do. Makes it look more “natural”.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

I think the key is just to work hard. Work, work and work. Build up a diverse portfolio and be aware of your own strenghts and weaknesses. And have your work out there. Use all the tools there are. If you want to be an illustrator, the social media especially is a big weapon in archieving your life goal.

Thank you Christophe for sharing your talent, process, and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Christophe’s work, you can visit him at his website: Christophe Jacques

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Christophe. I am sure he’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Responses

  1. Every Saturday I look forward to this post. It’s so enjoyable to see an art collection from the comfort of my couch. Thank you for sharing. One piece of constructive feedback if you’re creating work for children, I would not include smoking. Otherwise, I love your work.

    Like

  2. yes C…… you CAN draw!! hahahaha welcome….

    Like

  3. Christophe has fast become one of my favorite illustrators! I love the retro look of his work and those elephants are so much fun! Thank you for a great interview!!!

    Like

  4. Amazing! My favorite illustrator! I love that your style is suitable for all ages! You could work on any kind of project! I can see a great future ahead for you! 🙌

    Like

  5. I just found his work on instagram. I assumed he was huge success already. I’m sure he will be soon. Thank you for the tip about the cardboard. I’m going to try that since my vector illustrations always look flat and boring compared to my sketch.

    Like

  6. Christophe, this was so much fun learning about you, your process and your journey, and I love your sincere humble take on your work 🙂 Your style is VERY distinctive and your characters are totally jam-packed with…well—CHARACTER! 😀

    Like

  7. Congratulations Christophe😀, very exciting article, reading about you is so inspiring.

    Like

  8. Christopher is one of my favorite illustrators! His retro style is SO FUN! Love following him on IG.

    Like

  9. Amazing interview!! Christophe is very talented and a very good person. I’m happy to see my friend’s work getting better and better and making so many fans worldwide! Well done Chris! Your art is super!!!!

    Like


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