Friday, January 21, 2011

Marc Boutavant

Hurrahhhh finally! This blog entry is so overdue and I've been putting it off consistently thinking that it had to be this really well thought out oeuvre of a blog entry, but you know what.... let's just wing it as it comes out and get it out into the world instead of spending so much time preparing what you're going to say that you end up not actually having the time to ... well, say it!

So here it goes, today's topic will be non other than one of my all time favorite if not favorite contemporary illustrator MARC BOUTAVANT! The man is a complete genius and I am pretty much totally in love with everything he does. He can do no wrong and he consistently gets better and better at what he does, which is something we should all strive to do when it comes to our expertise and passions, no?

I can't remember now how I first discovered Marc Boutavant, but it was quite some years ago now, when I still worked at a children's book shop. I think initially I had seen his images online and was immediately taken by them because of his amazing ability to create hundreds of fantastic and unique characters and his seemingly flawless technique when it comes to his creation process. I saw his images on the Heart Agency site and looked at them for a long time trying to figure out how he worked. Then I found an article on him where it mentioned that he strictly worked in photoshop. This blew my mind! My guess had been that he used acriliques, guache and ink, but no, it was all this thing called Photoshop. I had played around with Photoshop back then, but had always associated it with the very obvious photoshopped images featured in some books that lack a lot of personal touch and mistery, or... on the other hand I associated Photoshop with the likes of Dave Mc Kean where I couldn't even image where to start and still to this day it's hard to figure out how he creates certain effects. Either way, it was not something I had seen myself using to create the type of images I was interested in creating. Marc Boutavant changed this.

All of a sudden I realized that Photoshop can be used as a most effective tool to bring out your strengths and hide your weaknesses when it comes to creating an image. Boutavant had mentioned in an article that he only used the bare bones of photoshop, in other words, he created his own means around the program to do with it, exactly what he wanted to do. You don't have to learn everything about Photoshop in order to make fantastic use out of it, you just have to figure out what works for you and for your own images and go from there. One step at a time. Having followed Boutavant's work over the years I can see how he, over time, learned new Photoshop techniques and tricks and has so masterfully worked them into his images.
Marc Boutavant's work for the comic 'Ariol', written by Emmanuel Guibert is the reason I took a French Class in 2008. The comic is so beautifully illustrated and the narrative is so hilarious. Unfortunately, or... perhaps, fortunately the comic has not been translated yet and only exists in its original language. My french is still pretty much non-existent but I can make out most of what's going on in the comic now, (mostly due to Boutavant's ability to create such strong narrative through his characters). Some books you have to check out for sure, and that are also easily available here in North America are: 'Around the World with Mouk', 'For Just One Day'and 'All kinds of families'.

Anyhow, I could talk forever about Boutavant and his work, but the best thing will be for you to have a look at his images for yourself. You can check out this page on the Heart Agency site and of course I have posted a storm of them right here for you. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy....

These are probably my favorite end pages of .... EVER...yup. So beautiful, no?


  1. I work at the Children's Dept in the Oakland Public Library, and also fell in love with Marc Boutavant's work when I came across his book while cataloging some new picture books. He is amazingly talented and thank you for blogging about this and posting the beautiful prints! Oh...what I would give to meet him in person =D

  2. I was thinking, could this man ever be in a bad temper? Everything out of his hands is too cute, it's almost creepy, if it wasn't so brilliant... Yes indeed he is THE best, how I envy him!