Multimedia Wizard: Interview with McBess
“Mickey and his Band” by McBess
To what extent do you see your illustrations influenced by alternative comics during the 60’s and 70’s such as the zines made by R. Crumb? And do you create comics?
Not much actually. I discovered those comics quite late. I love them but I don’t consider them one of my influences. I’m more influenced by current artists and very old cartoons. I discovered Crumb because I’m really into the work of Dave Cooper.
Mark Ryden, Chris Ware, Kid Acne … and obviously most of the Fleischer’s work, like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. There’s just something subtle and scary that we’ve lost in most of the productions for children today. It’s actually why I’ll never do children’s productions.
Your work is like a highly-imaginative self-contained world with recurring characters and new situations or panels. Is there a story or a mythology behind your illustrations like “Mickey and his Band”? Can you tell us what that story/myth is?
The story is more or less what happens to me–I guess in a very extrapolated way. So there isn’t a story, per say. It’s more about living with those characters which are a representation of me or people that I know . “Mickey and his Band” was just an experiment. I named him “Mickey” for obvious reasons. It’s a small version of what I plan to do with Mcbess & the Dead Pirates.
Do you identify with “Mickey”? Is Mickey your double?
The main character of my illustrations is me. When I cut my hair I draw him with short hair, and when I want to grow my hair out, I draw him with long hair–it’s a lot quicker then waiting for me to get longer hair. It’s myself in my imaginary world–much like when you think about something and you see yourself doing it, well I do that on paper so I can keep the ideas for later.
Music seems to play a predominant theme in your work. The scenes reflect a sort of rock-n-roll inferno . . . And you’ve created animated music videos and feature mp3s on your site. What exactly is the connection between your work and music?
I started playing music before drawing so it’s very important for me, along with food and girls. I keep drawing about those things. Now I’m ready to start linking my music with my images. The music video is a beginning, but I already got a few other things cooking . My goal is to be able to travel with a band and draw about the action on tour.
By the way, I really dig the music you’re involved with.
Thanks ! I’m doing the music actually, the Dead Pirate is me. I recorded the songs on my own. I’m not in any hurry so I’m taking the opportunity to write a good album and see how for it’s can go.
You call yourself an “illustrator/director”. What kind of professional services do you do for clients other than illustration?
I direct commercials for a living. For now, it’s not that interesting. Most of the commercials we do are very boring. With the launch of our new music video, we’re hoping to get nicer projects. I rarely do paid illustration work because most of the time you have to follow directions and do changes and I can’t stand it. So I keep most of my illustration time focused on making illustrations that are true to me.
Well, animation is a great tool. I learned a lot about it working with Asterokid and Motraboy on our short movie, Sigg Jones. I’m not crazy about animation but sometimes you want to see your doodles move and it’s fantastic when that happens. I’m still doing a lot of animation for different projects but I don’t specialize myself. As soon as you’re specialized, people want you to work hard and I hate that. So I make sure to be very vague about my potential.
I don’t know much about animation. Can you tell me what you do as an animator?
We’re called “animators”, but really we’re 3D generalists. It means we do a bit of everything (animation, modeling, texturing, render, setup, compositing), which is handy for a project like Wood because there were only two people to do the project.
I’ve heard that you’re 23. How have you cultivated such a self-assured and distinctive style at such a young age?
I just turned 25. I need to update my website. I don’t know if my style is as good as you say it is, but I’ve been surrounded by a lot of colorful friends who taught me many things. I’ve had an easy life so it’s easy to focus on the good side of things and to build the confidence to put your work out there.
Can you talk about your training/education?
I went to a 3D college in the south of France, in a boring city called Arles. The school has a really good name but the teachers were rubbish. That’s where I met most of my friends. We all moved to London after school so I guess we were a pretty strong group. I learned about 2d and 3d from storyboarding to compositing. You don’t really master any of those fields but you get to do a bit of everything. I also grew up with open-minded parents. Even though my school work was rubbish, they continued to push me to do what I dreamed of instead of more serious things.
How did you “become” an artist? Was illustration always something you’ve wanted to do?
I don’t know how people think of “artist”. I’m not serious enough to be a professional artist. But at the same time, I believe so much in what I do that I might give the work some credibility. I don’t really like being called an artist because it sounds pretentious to me. My grandma calls me an artist but that’s different. Illustration wasn’t what I originally wanted to do. But I’ve always wanted to create something, some world of my own, and illustration is a good and quick start for it.
Are you well known in Germany? What is the illustration scene in Germany like? What are people doing? Do you consider yourself a part of a movement?
Germany is big into illustration. They have a lot of skilled illustrators in Germany, plus they’re the nicest people. I’m friends with Rotopol; they’re a small publishing group. Rotopol publishes illustrations and sets up exhibitions. It’s a friendly and easy-going environment, with people always ready to try new project. I don’t really consider myself part of a movement, but I’m trying to create something like that with my friends. To create a group of people who do stuff toguether, not just sexual, some musical, graphical, and motion-picture projects.
I just want to say that your illustrations are incredibly rich and imaginative and I’m glad I had this opportunity to speak to you personally.
Thanks a lot, it’s been a pleasure talking with you too.