This morning at 7-Imp, I welcome illustrator Antoine Revoy. Antoine was born in France and grew up in Tokyo, Japan, as well as Mexico City, Mexico, and Barcelona, Spain. He received a B.F.A. in Film/Animation/Video from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1999, and after that, moved to China, followed by some time in Dublin, Ireland (as well as Paris again), working as a visual and interaction designer. All the while, he worked as a freelance illustrator as well. He now works full-time as an illustrator, including editorial work.
And, as you can read below, he also now teaches art and illustration. (Fun fact: He is married to illustrator Kelly Murphy.)
As you’ll see below, Antoine has a very stripped-down style in his pen-and-ink drawings, often with a compelling use of line and occasional bursts of color. Surreal and mind-bending, his illustrations take us to new places.
Let’s get to it then so that we can see some art. As for breakfast, Antoine tells me, “I used to have a preference for the medically questionable combination of coffee and cigarettes (referred to by some as ‘French breakfast’). I no longer smoke nor drink coffee, and my current breakfast-of-choice would be bread and cheese (which sounds rather French as well).”
Oh, but you see, that’s very good with me. I think we’re set.
Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?
Antoine: Illustrator, as far as recent published work goes, but I write my own stories and comics as well.
Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?
Antoine: I co-illustrated the chapter book Haunted Houses, written by Robert D. San Souci, with my wife Kelly Murphy. I have also single-handedly illustrated the upcoming Anubis Speaks! by Vicky Alvear Shecter.
Anubis Speaks! (Boyds Mill Press, 2013)
Jules: What is your usual medium?
Antoine: I favor traditional media, drawing by hand with pencils and pen and ink on paper or illustration boards.
Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?
Antoine: I currently reside in Providence, Rhode Island, which has wonderful Federal/Colonial architecture and enjoyable New England seasonal weather.
Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?
Antoine: Kelly, who is a veteran illustrator compared with me, was one day contacted to illustrate a collection of horror short stories, and she identified this project and manuscript as an opportunity for she and I to work together as a duo for the sake of artistic experimentation. She generously suggested to the publisher that we collaborate on this book and, after careful consideration, the client agreed that a hybrid of our styles would be an interesting experiment and appropriate for these particular stories. Prior to this experience, I had primarily worked as an editorial illustrator, creating single illustrations for newspapers or magazines.
illustrated with Kelly Murphy (Henry Holt, 2010)
Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?
Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.
Antoine: To date, I have only visited colleges, which I hear is no different from visiting elementary schools, tattoos and piercings aside.
7-Imp: If you teach illustration, by chance, tell me how that influences your work as an illustrator.
Antoine: For the past three years, I have been teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design and Montserrat College of Art. While this occupation has had little influence on my art, it has done good things for my mental health by allowing me to leave my studio and lead a less solipsistic life as an artist.
Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?
Antoine: I have been working on various comics/manga personal projects, as well as picture book dummies, and my future works should be sequential.
Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm”
Coffee’s on (for me), and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Antoine again for visiting 7-Imp.
1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?
Antoine: I typically alternate pacing in my studio and going out for long walks to stimulate my imagination. I then make quick drawings for hours, during which other images come to mind. Anything and everything else about my production methods is unremarkable, I suppose.
2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.
Antoine: Messy, save for a flat surface to draw on. I tend to escape to other rooms and take over the dining room table or television room coffee table.
3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?
4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)
5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?
Antoine: The Beatles have been my work companions for the past twenty years. I also like drawing while listening to Tom Waits, Sigur Rós, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, the Pixies, The Clash, David Bowie, the Velvet Underground, Autechre, Plaid, Depeche Mode, or Aphex Twin. For some odd reason, the obscure album Zooropa by a maligned Irish band is a favorite work soundtrack.
6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
Antoine: I have hyperthymestic syndrome. (The existence of this condition is a matter of dispute, but I fit the general definition.)
7. 7-Imp: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.
Antoine: Q: “Can I buy you a drink?”
Jules: What is your favorite word?
Jules: What is your least favorite word?
Antoine: An expression rather than a single word: “fine art.”
Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Jules: What turns you off?
Antoine: Moral relativism.
7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)
Antoine: Too rude for publication on this tasteful blog, I fear!
Jules: What sound or noise do you love?
Antoine: The sound of Japanese cicadas (semi), rain, aluminum baseball bats making contact, the squeaking of shoes on a basketball court, and cats purring.
Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?
Antoine: The characteristic sounds of incivility and lack of manners (e.g., car horns as alternatives to walking up to doorbells).
Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Jules: What profession would you not like to do?
Antoine: Public servant. (Despite all of the risks and financial vulnerability of making a living as a visual artist, I enjoy being something of an outlier in an increasingly Kafkaesque corporate and consumer society.)
Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Antoine: “Pets allowed.”
All artwork and images are used with permission of Antoine Revoy.
The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.