Thursday, December 01, 2011

Portland Questions 47: Nico Hitori De

Nicolas Hitori de has been a  freelance illustrator since 2002, trained in fine arts workshops in the city of Paris, following parallel courses in animation studios, he published his first drawings and cartoons in several fanzines and participated in numerous exhibitions and festivals since 1989.   

His recent work has illustrated websites, apparel, advertisements, flyers and newspapers for children. Participating in various animated shorts, he worked for several years with the magazine release from Disney-Hachette Witch.  He is done several illustrations for CD covers and posters for a band called Virgin Princesse.  He is currently working with Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones on Spell Checkers.

Currently he is over in Portland on an extend stay work on Spell Checkers.   He is teaching comics  in and was asked to be an artist-in-residence for years 2012-13.

Catch up with him on his blog  or on twitter

Doug Dorr:   What projects are you working on currently?
Right now, I'm working on the third volume of Spell Checkers, and sometimes I still draw commissioned artwork for Disney. I’m also involved in a musical stage project for a friend from France’s. They are called Virgin Princesse. We plan to project animation during the play, and I’m really excited about it.

DD:   What is your artistic Process?
Kind of unusual. My work is both traditional and digital. I do thumbnails from Jamie’s script and then pencils on paperm but I’m inking and toning on computer. I’m really interested in digital drawing and I’ll probably switch to it sooner or later.

DD:   Illustrating, it is said to be essentially storytelling. Have you thought of writing a story?
I started writing a semi-autobio comic before working with Jamie and Joëlle. It's a very personal project about when I came back from Paris to my hometown after a break-up. I hope to finish writing it and start drawing pages soon. Maybe after volume 3. 

DD:   How did you become involved with Witch magazine?
A friend saw my work at a comic convention and it happened that he sometimes wrote articles for Disney magazines in France. He recommended me to them, and when I g0t my first commission, I couldn't believed I was working for Disney. It’s been more than 10 years now that I’ve I worked for them, and it’s still great.

DD:   I understand you had an internship at Disney Accademia in Milan, how did you change after the experience?
I learned a lot of drawing techniques there and working every day with such talented comics artists was really inspiring. They asked me to stay after, but that would have meant changing my art style to the Disney house style. It was a real tough decision to make but I turned it down. I prefer being independent.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
I'm a big fan of Vanyda's The Building Opposite. She’s a friend and a great inspiration for me. In terms of Portland artists, I can’t wait for Emi Lenox’s Emitown 2 and Natalie Nourigat’s first graphic novel Between Gears. Image is publishing both of them in February, 2012.

DD:   What skill would you like to learn?
Painting, especially digitally. I'm so bad at it. I also wish I could draw faster. Drawing all of the clothes and background details takes me many, many hours…

DD:   What's the most important thing you've learned?
I think skill is not the most important in comics. I’m more impressed by storytelling and personal art styles that technical demonstration. I’m also amazed by the indie comics scene in the US. Publishers like Oni are way more curious and open minded than French ones.

DD:   Do you have a collection? If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
I'm not really into collecting, but my favorite items are probably Gorillaz's Rise of the Ogre, Atsushi Okubo’s Soul Eater Soul Art, and the Furi-Kuri concept design book. I’m also a proud owner of some Joëlle Jones original artwork.

DD:   What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
There are too many of them! I love all kind of movies, especially old musicals, ‘70s Italian horror, arthouse, animation... I'm also a huge fan of John Hughes but maybe my all time favorite is Wong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express. I’m not really into TV show but I can watch Twin Peaks, Spaced, and Freaks & Geeks anytime.

DD:   Has the Portland comics culture shaped your work?
Totally. First in the way I work : being here makes everything easier, especially in terms of working with Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones.  As I set the book in Portland, it really helps to feel the mood of the city. Meeting local artists is also a great inspiration.

DD:   What was your first comic convention?
I was at Stumptown in 2010. I met a lot of my favorite comics artists all on the same day and I have great memories about it. I also was in San Diego and New-York the same year and it was totally crazy. It was awesome to sign books and talk with readers.

DD:   If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
I'm really into photography. I actually took some classes about it when I was younger but I chose comics instead. I sometimes still hang out with my camera, but comics take up too much time. Same with music, my guitar is kinda dusty now…

DD:   Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
It's been only two months since I arrived here so I usually follow my friends. Maybe you can recommend me some?

DD:   What is your favorite part of Portland?
I actually love the city. I enjoyed being in NE and hanging out downtown and Old Town. It’s probably because it’s the first part of the city I saw, but I have a special affection for NW sights.

DD:   Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
I already visited Mount Hood this last Sunday, and it was gorgeous. I may sound a little geeky but I went to Astoria this week because I wanted see the Goonies sets. I’d love to see the coast now.

DD:   Would you like to write/Illustrate for another media that you haven't yet done? Is there a character from popular culture you would like illustrate, for example,
Dr. Who, James Bond? What would you explore?
I already did two drawings for Jim Henson's Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. I'd love to work on something with Jamie Hewlett. Right now, I'm trying to explore more sketchy inking like Jim Mahfood and experiencing things like speed painting. I'm also interested in the Superflat artistic movement.

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