Nicolas Weis – Artist Interview

  1. Briefly describe your creative background. Do you have any previous applications?

I grew up in the south Parisian suburb in an average French neurotic family. When I was a kid I wanted to be a stuntsman, then a cop, an explorer, or at least an astronaut. To avoid frustration and be able to be all of that and more, I decided that I would be a “dessinateur”, which in French means more or less “someone who draws” (I prefer not to use “drawer” as a translation, it makes me feel I am part of a piece of furniture). But I quickly understood that it was not a reasonable thought and I put this grotesque idea in a dark part of my mind (some kind of drawer probably). I then grew a mustache and at 18 majored in Economy. The problem was that at this point I had no idea whatsoever what my near and distant future would look like. At last, I decided that I was done with Economy, let my hair grow and entered the Ecole du Louvre to study history of art and archaeology for three years. But Indiana Jones probably stole the only cool job in the field; hence I had to make yet another crucial decision. I then decided that I was old enough to seriously consider such a silly option and decided to become a dessinateur (the guy in the drawer, remember ?). I cut my hair, studied very hard in the studio of my mentor Yannick Francois and graduated a few years later from the ESAG Penninghen in Paris. I then became a freelance illustrator, a graphic designer, and a drawing instructor.  I exhibited in a few galleries and in the Cherbourg fine art museum for a solo exhibition in 2005.

I was then abducted by aliens and sent in Ohio to study American people for 18 months.  Even though I really enjoyed snow, I decided to work on a portfolio that would permit me to live with the other aliens, in California. A few sweated bullets later, I was hired by Imagi to work as a visual development artist on Astroboy and six months later was hired by Dreamworks, where I worked on “How to train your Dragon” and on “The Croods”.

2.  Where do you find inspiration for your work? Who are your 5 favorite artists?

    I mostly find inspiration in nature and abstract random designs such as dubious scribblings, cloud patterns or ink stains. I pick a lot of branches, shells, old tires that I store everywhere around me.

    My favorite artists are Rembrandt, Giovanni Tiepolo, Sergio Toppi, Carlos Nine and Franquin.

    3.  What inspiration would you give to aspiring artists?

      Follow every advice from you teachers when you are at school. When you graduate, seriously reconsider everything.

      Be as curious as possible, in every possible way (as long as it is morally ok).

      4.  What current project(s) are you working on at DreamWorks? Elsewhere?

        I am currently working on “The Croods”. I am also trying to put a blog together, but since I have been talking about that for several years, I would not count on it too much.

        5. Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years?

          I don’t do that, it’s silly.

          -Nicolas

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