This is artist Raphael Lacoste. For more about this artist visit their CTN Profile: CLICK HERE
How did you start as an artist, when a child? or later in your path?
As a kid, I was always "in the moon", I was not very happy at school! I spend most of my time drawing actually, and looking through the windows .my notes where not very High and the teachers didn't like me very much for that, I was this kind of not successful student...
I was also lucky to have parents quite open to my artistic side, and they helped me a lot for school orientation, and for my path after the Fine Arts.
They didn't "force" me to become an engineer or a doctor like my Father, brother and sister (successful in their respective paths), I owe them one for this. I also traveled quite a lot very young and got very inspired by the people I met and the landscapes I saw. I Met a lot of artists in my greater family so I think I became quite "demanding" to myself for my work and my art, I wanted to go somewhere with this.
What are your inspirations in the industry? Inspirations of fine artists that you admire?
Of course, creators like the missed Moebius, but also Miyazaki, Francois Schuiten... are a huge inspiration since my childhood. I was also lucky enough to have Rene Laloux (Time Masters, Fantastic Planet, Gandahar) as teacher at my animation School in 1997. closer to now, I am a huge fan of Paul Lasaine for sure ! I also admire the work of very good friends like Ian Mcque and Nicolas SparthBouvier. I am very lucky to have them willing to write a few words for my upcoming Art-book.
What would you recommend artists that want to create complex illustrations and worlds such as your work do to develop their skills? What should they study and start doing to develop that level of mastery?
I think that before reaching complexity, there is a need to nail down a simple idea, a concept that is memorable or moving. It is important to have a picture in your mind and first, sketch it with simple mediums like a pen on paper.
I realized often that simpler versions of my images can have more impact when the concept it clear, readable with a strong image composition,than more complex images that can interact too much with the initial composition. Details are coming after!
Also, I would say travelling is key to get your own photos, references, and get inspired by the world, but also by the people you meet. You can't renew your Art if you stay home all your life ;)
Can you talk about your process for your illustrations?
Usually, I start with a simple sketch, often on paper with a black ink pen, because I think it is more connected to my ideas, and I focus more on the gesture and less on the technical execution.
When I can figure the elements needed for this image, I create a grey scale composition in photoshop, and separate all the layers from the foreground to the background, like in traditional animation, working at the same time atmospherics depth and light.
Technically, After, I sometimes use a 3D software to create some renders, and get shapes, camera angle and perspective elements that could match the illustration. I paint and look at many references from my personal trips to get the values right, but I never spend more than 2 days on a single image, because I don't think a very polished illustration is better than a more spontaneous one. :-)
What does you think about before starting from scratch, that blank canvas, to 'create these never before seen worlds'......?
I need to have a story, an image in my mind. Actually, for every pictures I made, I had first an image in my head for a moment, and wanted to "extract" it from myself :) sometimes, the image is inspired by a Book, this is also why I love to work on Books Cover Arts.
Who are you inspired by from the past and present?
Vermeer, Friedrich, Gerome, Bierstadt, Myiazaki, Lasaine... ? ;)
What was or is your favorite project that you developed and why?
Hard to name only one, but I can say that "Assassin's Creed Black Flag" is one of the project I am the most proud of. It was a very challenging one, but the team was on board, inspired, and we shipped a fantastic and beautiful Game! Regarding the Book covers Project, "the Windup Girl" is my favourite, Jeremy Lassen gave me inspiring notes and I am really proud of the final Artwork.
Interview by Heather M. Shepherd
Heather is an experienced artist, modeler, and CG designer. She has worked at Disney,Dreamworks, Jim Henson and Warner Bros. Recently shehas been writing, directing,and producing her own award winning films.