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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with McBess about Big Mother

French illustrator Mcbess has a unique style that has earned him widespread attention. Having worked with Nobrow for several years he has now produced Big Mother, a beautiful A3 book that showcases his work to its very best.

Written by Amelia Gregory

bigmother mcbess

He’s just held an exhibition titled The Folding Knife at The Book Club and he’s produced a fabulous A3 sized monograph with Nobrow. Let’s find out more about the bendy monochrome force of illustration that is McBess.

Where did the name McBess come from?
?It came at school, approved there were too many Matthieus in my class and a mate contracted my last name and first name to make it more memorable… it went from matbess to mcbess quite quickly.??

McBess Big Mother
How did your recent exhibition at the The Book Club come about, order and how did you choose what to display??
Well I was invited by Liat Chen, pill the curator of The Book Club, but because the place is so big I decided to invite some fellow illustrators. Everything there was made for the show, so I didn’t pick and choose from previous work.??

mcbess big mother
How long have you been working with Nobrow and how did the relationship start??
I’ve been working with Nobrow for 3 years I think, they invited me to be in the first Nobrow magazine God & Monsters. We became friends and kept on working together.

McBess Big Mother
??What is the defining characteristic of Big Mother, your A3 monograph with Nobrow??
Well it’s a A3 book for a start which is very cool since my work is about tiny details, most of the work in there is real size. Also it’s like a sum up of everything I’ve done for the last 3 years, I guess it’s a chance to see an evolution or a recurrence in the themes.??

mcbess big mother
What is the process of creating your illustrations?
How do they begin, and what kind of working environment do you like? ?Well it depends but I tend to look at a lot of different things: movies, music, book, the Internet. Then I focus on a mood and try to find what it’s made out of, for instance if I was to do something about bikers, I’ll try to find all the iconography and play with them, the beards, the bikes, but also the pattern in the clothing, the types on the oil tanks and some not as obvious details that would set a dense mood. Then I’ll first flesh out a rough drawing either on paper or straight on photoshop, and I’ll refine it several time until I can start shading. I usually watch TV series when I work, music makes me too exited.

McBess Big Mother
??You are also a musician – what kind of music do you like and what kind do you make?
?I like a lot different types of music: rock, hip hop, electro, jazz… but I write rock tunes for the band. I try to keep it simple and catchy, I find it very hard to step back and listen to a track like you would do with a drawing, but that also why it’s a thrilling experience.??

mcbess big mother
How does music influence your art?
?Well I’ve always used music themes in my work, I’ve always been playing music and so it’s always been one of the most important things for me. I try to talk a bit about what I like in my illustration, so naturally music has a huge place in it. Now it’s funny because the illustrations are also influencing the music, and we try to make sounds that fit the mood of some illustrations. I think it will give more depth to everything.??

McBess Big Mother
You grew up in the South of France… what do people think of art like yours in your home town?
?I don’t know really, I started drawing when I was in London, there’s not that many young people from where I live and the rest tend to look at my illustrations as funny doodles, which might be why I sometimes make them quite violent. Anyway I don’t think the south of France is the best place to develop a style and be supported for it, but if you want to open a hot dog stand or a swingers night club then you might think otherwise.??

mcbess big mother
You mention that you can’t draw arms and knees, hence your bendy limbs – anything else you can’t draw or hate drawing??
Aha, well it started like that indeed, I was very bad at junctions, drawing good angles while keeping a harmony in the curves. Now I think I can draw knees and elbows but it doesn’t mean I like to. I also don’t like drawing buildings, sports, veggie food, cars, phones, penises, clean shaved men, planes…??

McBess Big Mother
Why do you only work in black and white, and can you foresee a time in the future when you might be tempted by colour??
I work in colour for my commercial work and I find pleasure in it but I love black and white. It started like that because I used to only do pencil drawings and when I started to rework them on the computer I would ink them black and then add the colour, but that colour stage always made the drawing less emblematic, less iconic, so I never though I’d use it for my work, and I’ll keep it consistent. If I ever want to do colour I’ll start something else with another name.??

McBess Big Mother
What’s next in the pipeline with Nobrow?
?Well we’ve been working on a possible toy, and for the rest I’m not too sure for now, I need to go back to the drawing board to make some more stuff and then they might be interested in putting it on paper.??

Any other exciting collaborations that you can tell us about??
I’m working on a bike with the Dudes Factory in Berlin which should come out with a range of biker themed tee shirts. For now that’s all I’ve got in the pipeline.?

The new McBess book Big Mother can be bought from Nobrow here.

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  1. [...] Magazine | An interview with McBess about Big Mother October 6th, 2011 Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with McBess about Big Mother. Share on bebo Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share [...]

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