Simon – A French illustrator and animator, and former London-dweller – recently, understandably, given all the crazy Brexit bollocks, hopped back to his home city of Bayonne, in Basque France.
Simon’s illustration is bright, bold, and to the point; but his work is really well composed, containing lots of subtle details and humour. His recent work for Ace and Tate
really caught our eye, and he’s also worked for lots of other great clients, including Apple and the New Yorker.
We caught up with him in Bayonne as he settles into his new studio for a chat about working – and, of course, skateboarding – over there.
Hi Simon, how’s your day going?
Good thanks, I’m starting my day at noon today as the morning was dedicated to the famous French administration.
Actually, it’s so absurd it probably had an influence on my work after all. So thank you!
Tell us a bit about your studio.
A year ago I’ve moved back to France: to the city of Bayonne. Last September I found a nice studio that I share with two friends who’ve started a production company. We’ve been quite busy since then, so we didn’t take care of it that much but it’s better now. We have chairs…
I’m not sure about open space, but I like to share my space with people I know. I worked from home last year, and it feels good to have a couple of people around now. I thought I was a bit misanthropic , I guess I was wrong…
Your studio’s in Bayonne. Give us your top 5 tips any visitor should know when visiting!!
It’s a great place to visit in the French Basque country: it’s brillant as you have the Atlantic coast right there if you fancy waves and seafood, and you’re next to Pyrenees mountains – an hour or so from a ski resort.
It’s easy to get here from London or Paris as well. Spain is a 30 minutes drive too. That’s the Tripadvisor overview!
It’s a quite small city but the Summer can get busy with tourists – so you might want to visit off-season if you want to avoid the crowd – there’s still stuff to do and see.
Few places and things I like in Bayonne: Janine
restaurant is brilliant, frankly as great as your favourite London spot! There’s an erotic wine bar as well called La Coquiniere
, good wine and good pictures, ha. If you’re really into heavy drinking you have the well known Fetes de Bayonne: a huge fair in the middle of summer.
What are your favourite skatespots in Bayonne?
There are a lot of good spots around the city, mostly parks or bowl though. The street park of Bayonne is brillant if you’re into tech stuff: it’s 300 meters from the center. You have the famous Cité de L’Océan bowl
in Biarritz , built on a rooftop in front of the sea. There’s dozens of good concrete skateparks around the city, St Jean de Luz, Cambo, etc. If you want to go for proper street spots, people tend to go to Bordeaux or Bilbao, both cities are 2 hours away and are brilliant.
You’ve worked with some really cool clients; how do you go about getting work?
I’m lucky to be represented by Pocko
in Uk and Lezilus
in France, otherwise, clients contact me directly.
Lately I’ve felt that going to shows and exhibitions or being part of an illustration fair or festival was a good way to meet people with whom I might work.
I know it sounds cheesy, but I feel that meeting and chatting with clients in person is important. It’s a much better way to remember someone than emails! I’m say that as most of the time I can’t meet clients or people I’m in touch with.
Tell us your top 5 books and pieces within your studio for inspiration. And why?
I think they’re all comic books.
So the first one is The System by Peter Kuper, I really love the visual language he developed for this one. He shows that you can be subtle without any dialogue, it’s quite brillIant.
Then a classic, Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. It’s just insane. I love that comic, I’ve always had a copy or two in my room for the last 20 years. The movie is the craziest animation ever made, I enjoyed it so much at the cinema.
I’ve been catching up with a lot of French comics too, and I must say that The Arab of the Futur by Riad Sattouf is spot on. I usually stay away from autobiography but this one must be read: Sattouf has such a good sense of observation.
Another classic modern French comic author I often read is Bastien Vives and especially his comic Polina. Beside having an untouchable talent for drawing he shows his amazing skill for story telling too. That guy has it all really.
And for the fun, because he’s a friend and was my roomate in London, Philippe Valette for his comic Georges Clooney and Jean Doux. The first one for being the longest fart of the brain anybody had. And the second one for its cinematographic approach. I hope it’s translated to English though.