In the Studio: Antoine Corbineau

Nantes, France

Using a range of media and techniques, Antoine Corbineau creates colourful and often strikingly complex illustrations that have already proved hugely popular all over the world. His busy patchworks of texture, imagery and creative typography can instantly communicate a simple key-message or brand, but also effectively share a much larger amount of information hidden within the fun and energetic worlds of his illustrations.

Describe your working style in five words…

Colourful – Detailed – Energetic – Communicating – Evolutive

Who and what keeps you inspired?

I am not really sure, I think I find most of my energy and motivation / inspiration by running regularly in a nice park near my home. That is a great source of inspiration for my paintings especially.

I am enjoying this since I moved out of Paris to Nantes, as nature is far more a reality and part of the city and daily life here. Being able to go surfing on weekends is good for things as well. Then I am not looking at too much illustration books, websites or blogs. Almost never. I find it easier to find new ideas with a blank mind and not too many influences from others, especially from other illustrators. But that might be because I really don’t have many books on illustration; perhaps I should. I would rather look at art books on painters like David Hockney, Jerome Bosch or Peter Doig, some of my favorite ones.

Pick three things that are most valuable to you in your working studio and explain to us why you have chosen those and what story there is behind them.

I have recently moved studios and so haven’t had time to move most of my stuff here yet so there is not much interesting in part from a desk and a computer!

Half of the room will be my illustration zone; the other will be the painting zone. I was looking forward to having this kind of space, which wasn’t easy to find in Paris, so I would say this space really is the most valuable thing to me. Then a large folder, which is getting bigger everyday, where I keep all my commission roughs. I enjoy looking at these once in a while. I like to keep these roughs on paper, it makes the work more real, and they are like the precious skeleton of past projects. Third thing would be the really good-looking Bluetooth phone stand I am trying to use when it works. I am quite a good audience for this type of gadget… Again there is not much else around so that is all I can pick for now!

How do you feel you personal work feeds into and influences your commissioned work?

My personal work, which actually is painting, can feed my commissioned work from time to time, but probably less and less as these two activities are really getting more and more separated in my mind and visually. Sometimes the technical aspect can be influential, I use some painting technics within illustration regularly. But I appreciate to have those two activities and that they are not feeding each other too much. Otherwise, it might sound strange but I almost never do illustration as personal work, just for the pleasure of it or for fun, I can’t find inspiration for that so I use my commission free time only to paint.

When for you do illustrations hold more strength than words?

I can’t really be objective on this… I am pro-illustration use within communication. I am rather convinced that a good illustrated magazine cover has more impact that just words. It stimulates imagination and leaves more space to the real meaning of an idea, more than when this idea is locked and limited in just three words.

Working within illustration and creativity can have its highs and lows. What are your three constraints and three motives to work during the day?

The most common constraint or difficulties I am facing is short deadlines on most of the commissions, it seems like a tradition! That implying regular briefs on Friday afternoon requiring a hand-in on the following Monday morning and a nice weekend in perspective. Then trying to organise a schedule when it is never sure the commissions been discussed will happen or not. Third constraint would be the disappointment of not been selected on a commission because a younger illustrator has accepted to do the job for a far too low fee to compete with, that can be really frustrating and irritating and is really bad for everyone in general. Those are the three bad points I can think of.

My motives are the fact that, despite those constraints, this really is job I enjoy doing so it is a pleasure to wake up in the morning to go to my studio. I have a habit of starting my days early in the morning, which really is helping to keep an intense and regular working flow of my work. I try as much as possible to avoid late evening work of which I am not fond. Then the diversity of projects I work and will be working on. I am always happy to be commissioned on new subjects, new medias and be able to adapt my answers each time.

If you weren’t working as a freelance illustrator, what would you be doing?

Spontaneously I would say that I would try to build a painting career. But then I am not sure I would be strong enough to work alone all year and confront myself to the cruel and mysterious French contemporary art world. I enjoy cooking a lot as well and have a good list of restaurant ideas in mind, so I would maybe try that instead!