Discover his ballpen adventures and his favorite comics.
Kévin LucbertILLUSTRATION . September 4th, 2018
Hi Kévin, could you please introduce yourself?
I am a french artist and illustrator. I graduated from the School of Decorative Arts in Paris in 2008, and I am now living in Berlin for 6 years.
Why did you choose to draw with a ballpoint pen (bic)?
I always used these pens, as I like to sketch outside, that’s what I always had on me. That’s as simple as this. Also, I like to draw with what I have nearby, I don’t like to have many tools, I rarely go to art supplies shops. And I was also curious to see how, with such a simple tool, I could express something different, how I could create a word where it’s unexpected.
Would you shortly explain us what “Au coeur des ténèbres”, from Josheph Conrad, is about?
It is a novel that I really liked… It is about a captain that goes on a mission, on a boat, looking for someone that got lost in the forest. He goes down a river, through the jungle, and the deeper he goes, the more things turn crazy…
Your illustrations book “La Traversée” is slighlty connected to this short story…
It is a variation, I did not want to illustrate the book, I just wanted to keep the main situation and make my own story out of it. At the beginning it was just a few drawings, I did not know it would become a proper story.
The “Blue Lines” and “La Traversée” series both look a lot like some slightly dark children’s adventure book. There also many doors and stairs, but no character. Did you want to create a similar feeling like these Gamebooks (Livres dont vous êtes le héros)?
I was not thinking about that type of book but I certainly do like them. It’s also a bit comparable to a video game. La Traversé is more in this direction, as it’s more like a long clip, because the point of view is passing threw this universe. But for Blue Lines, it is different, it’s a bit more about cityscapes, with sometimes a broader point of view, but still a first person point of view.
Do you still play video games?
I love it but I don’t have time anymore, that’s so sad.
But yes, maybe this first person point of view comes from that. That idea of immersion, I like the idea of being succed into a universe. There are also many movies, where someone open a book and gets succed it, to another world. I really like that idea of being transported some place else, but just reading a book or seing a picture. I might also be inspired by dreams, where you travel to strange places, and you always have that first person view.
Which books did you like as a kid ? and as an adult?
As a kid I was a lot into comics, like really a lot. I had all the basics, like Tintin, Astérix, Franquin. I also really like black and white comics, a little more for grown-ups, like the ones that were in this magazine À suivre. I think it was in the 80s, with Hugo Pratt, Moebius, Manara, it was really arty, but really for adults, and very creative. It was the same with Métal Hurlant. I was really fascinated by these illustrations. So as a kid, yes, I was mostly into comics. Also Les Cités Obscures, like La Tour and that kind of thing. I was really into the architectural aspect and that very dark atmosphere…
It’s funny because I thought about comparing your last series, That’s All Folks, with the psychedelic aspect of some of Moebius’s works. It’s surely not the same style, but it’s trippy, colorful…
Haha yes, these series are more psychedelic. The tittle, That’s All Folks, comes from the Looney Tunes cartoons, that’s what they say at the end. I wanted to create a different universe from the Blue Lines. This one is more cartoony, psychedelic. The tittle is ambigious, because that refers to kid’s cartoons, but it’s also like saying “nothing to see there, go away!”. I like this idea of something mysterious, like it’s cartoon but a bit more strange, more akward.
About the “That’s all folks” series : Is there some on going theme, a link between all these illustrations?
It’s completly open…. There is a story, but it’s more like one story per image. They are linked, as when I finish one, I have the idea of the next one usually. I also want to try stuff, experiment
There are themes that come regularly, like cities, architecture… I like also the idea of drawing a serie and afterwards, putting them all together.
What inspired you? In which environment do you like to work?
I always listen to music of all kinds when I draw. At the moment, a lot of rock’n’roll and electronic music. When I like a track, I just play it over and over… I listen a lot to Strangerhold from Ted Nuggent and to one from the movie The Neon Demon, the main one, The Demon Dance. I think it’s very suited to draw, it brings something, it’s very repetetive.
It can also be books, comics, novels, graphic novels… I try to grab ideas from everywhere. A lot of them are in this fantastique genre. So… there is The House on the Borderland (La Maison au bord du monde), by William Hope Hodgson, which is really one of my favorites. Also Edgar Allan Poe, I love The Extraordinary Stories…. And again from William Hope Hodgson, the Nightland.
And comics ! There’s this great comic shop in Berlin, Modern Graphics, which has a very good English selection. So, there I recently got Hellblazer, from the Constantine series, who’s a character from Marvel or DC Comics… Then the last one from Alan Moore, Providence, a great one. And oh ! Sandman, by Neil Gaiman. I actually discovered american graphic novels recently, this super hero universe, but a bit twisted, like Watchmen etc.
What’s next ? Any dream project?
I’d be happy to make another graphic novel, like La Traversée. I am working on it, but I don’t know what it’s gonna be.
The dream project to me would be the one where I would have the most freedom.
How about collaboration work?
I did it in the past with Edouard Baridbeau, with whom I studied at Les Arts Décoratifs, and who also lives in Berlin. Plus I work within an artist collective, Ensaders. We also met during our studies in Paris, we are 3 and we draw together on the same piece of paper. We mix our lines, and it’s great ! We do illustrations too, as we are represented by an agency, we get commissions.
Are there some artist you’d dream to work with?
I am usually really open… Maybe Alan More, if he would provide me a scenario, I would be happy to draw it. I recently collaborated with a fashion business and enjoyed it a lot and would love to do it more in the future. That company is called Ollow and I made an all-over patent for a shirt. I really like it, and at the end you can wear it haha. I am wearing one today, that’s not a purpose for the interview, it’s just that I wear what I receive. That one is from a japanese company, and I really like it, this result of our collaboration.
Thanks a lot for your time and for this interview in person in your Berlin studio :)
Kévin Lucbert, french illustrator, whom we met in person in his Berlin studio for this interview !