Pictoplasma focus – Interview with Geneviève Gauckler

genevievrrre-gauckler.jpgGeneviève Gauckler, Food Chain


Last week, i talked with Joshua Ben Longo about his work as a character artist and designer. It was my first post in a series that brings the spotlight on Pictoplasma, an international platform that showcases the work of illustrators, animation makers, graphic designers, street artists, fine artists, fashion designers who explore ‘character-driven aesthetics.’

This week i’m interviewing French artist, illustrator and art director Geneviève Gauckler. My first encounter with her work was quite a shock. All over French magazines and on billboards in the streets of Paris were these ads staring black little characters sitting on eye shadows, inspecting nail colours, gushing over the beauty of the model’s complexion or, as in the image below, campaigning for the right to have clump-free lashes. It was a shock because i had no idea you could use humour to sell beauty products.

bourjois2.jpgAd for Bourjois

But the work that completely sold me to her talent was Food Chain, an exhibition at MU in Eindhoven in which she explored the ambiguity of food.

Geneviève Gauckler has been working with and for people or companies as different from each other as the record label F Communications (Laurent Garnier, St Germain), French/German cultural TV-channel Arte, the collective Pleix, Vogue UK , PlayStation, cult Paris boutique Colette, etc. She also created books, objects, toys & Tshirts.

Back to my roots2_905.jpgIllustration for the French magazine for children Bonbek

BonbekCover.jpgIllustration for the French magazine for children Bonbek

Bonjour Geneviève! I went through a few interviews with you and you are often asked about the graphic designers and illustrators who inspire you. How about artists who work in other fields? Do you get to look at their work a lot and draw inspiration from them? Whose work do you admire?

I used to work as a graphic designer so many of these influences are in the graphic design, advertising and art direction field. I’m quite impressed by their sense of harmony and the strength of the images they’re working on: Paul Rand, Robert Brownjohn, George Lois, Alexis Brodovitch, I spent a lot of time in bookshops and libraries to find rare books about graphic design in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Recently I’ve discovered the fantastic work of Corita Kent, I’m amazed by her creativity and freedom. Also, I was fascinated by British graphic designers like Malcom Garrett, Neville Brody, Me Company, Peter Saville, Designers Republic, during the 80’s and early 90’s. I liked their way of dealing with typography, the way they were mixing photography and graphics, very efficient, very spectacular artworks.

And I’m still a fan, I keep admiring many graphic designers and illustrators, the list would be very long! In other fields, I used to be into pop art, conceptual art and contemporary art, now I keep loving Ed Rusha and Robert Rauschenberg’s art.

GGPostcard01_905.jpgParis postcards

0aalikethisplac.jpgI like this place

WithYou_905.jpgDesigners for Japan

HollandaisePartyCloseUp2_905.jpgHollandaise Party

How would you feel if you were not allowed to draw and create characters? Never ever again! Could you still imagine working as a graphic designer?

That would definitely be a big issue ha ha! I think I would do something totally different like being a gardener or a farmer. Seriously, I could become a graphic designer again, no problem!

0adigestionprocesse.jpg4ahateating976735_b.jpgAltar1_905.jpg45copse14c1e3d_b.jpg4morefoodz975b95_b.jpgFoodChain07_905.jpgFood Chain in Eindhoven

I completely fell in love with your work when Angelique Spaninks from MU in Eindhoven gave me the catalogue of Food Chain. How did the project develop? Was it a commission with a clear definition of what MU wanted you to make or did they give you carte blanche?

Thanks a lot. Actually, I met Angelique a few months before, for the opening of Geoff McFetridge show at Mu, and then I proposed the idea about creating a show around the food theme. I love this theme because it’s wide, it includes everything, it’s both about everyday life and philosophy. It’s actually my favorite show so far, I’m very proud of it. The Mu gallery in Eindhoven is a fantastic place to hold a show.

VeggieMan_905.jpgFood Characters

There is something truly magical and charming about your sense of humour. Would you say it is very French?

Thank you for your nice words. Well, I guess the best side of French sense of humour looks like British sense of humour! Which is a kind of self-deprecation (but in a good way), to make fun of one’s own weaknesses, trying not to take oneself seriously and also irony. I’ve noticed that I like having the APV, “the Alien Point of View”, which means looking at daily things as if you were an ET coming from another planet. It can explain this “magical” touch.

RiotMarsatac_905.jpgMarsatac Riot tshirt

ThermokukusArgent _905.jpgJewellery for Le Buisson. Photography © Pierre Mendelssohn

Any advice you could give to graphic artists who would like to be as successful as you are?

It’s important to remain curious all the time, trying to learn new ways of thinking, of making things, to work a lot (!) but also not to spend too much time on the web looking at things, it’s really a challenge because there are so many great things happening all the time.

KingsTarot03_905.jpgKings cards for Pictarot, a tarot published by Pictoplasma

What are you going to show at Pictoplasma?

My latest works and also some case studies, showing the creative process, whether I’m working on a commercial job or on some personal work.

Merci Geneviève!

megrrafun.jpgDigitally Isolated

Previously: Pictoplasma focus – Interview with Joshua Ben Longo.

Geneviève Gauckler will be speaking at the Pictoplasma NYC conference which takes place on 4 + 5 November 2011 at Parsons The New School for Design. The exhibition will be open on 3 – 6 November 2011.