Interview with French Artist Jean-Baptiste Fraisse

Jean-Baptiste Fraisse is a young and talented French graphic designer from Paris. His illustrations have great personality and a unique french twist. He just finished Esat-Ecole Superieure des Arts et Techniques in Paris and he is very enthusiastic and ambitious when it comes to graphic design.

When did you start your career as a designer?

While I was still at school, I worked for different studios, especially the ones I’ve been learning  with during internships. It’s not always easy for a student without any background to find a job, so these kind of experiences are a good way to develop your network (the main part of the work I’m doing now comes from a non official “internship” I did during my holidays, just because I wanted to learn some in a studio I liked).

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What is your educational background?

When I graduated from junior High school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’ve always liked to write and I realized I had good communication skills so I decided to start a Marketing education in Paris. While it was pretty interesting as a part of the program was based on self development and learning human relation techniques, I found out that it was really not what I wanted to do; I wanted to be the one who creates the images much more than the one who imagine the strategies and campaigns. So I left that school to enter a year of art preparation in Esat, still in Paris. The basic purpose of it was to increase my level and let me pass the exams to enter the great animation schools. But I failed in the ones I tried so I remained in the same Esat, that turned out to be a really good graphic design school, with really skilled teachers and a complete program. I’ve just got graduated from that school. Interesting casualty then…

You’ve worked on several projects so far. What would be  the most relevant ones?

Well I don’t know if it’s the most relevant but it has surely been the most exciting as the client was quite a prestigious one for a young graphic designer; I would say my experience with Nike during my Internship in Mexico city.
We first designed a store showroom for a special event (el dia de los muertos – the day of the dead), but using the art of a local artist. Then we had the chance to make a second project proposing our own ideas. I was really motivated and I proposed a whole set up, based on personal illustrations. The idea has been accepted, and at the middle of a four month experience in a foreign country, at the end of my third year of school, I was handling the art direction of two store projects for Nike, with a (brilliant) team following my instruction. It was a dream, I was really proud of it.

Can you name 3 designs from your portfolio you like the most?

One of my favorite work is one of the last, it’s the one called “potatoe” that is a whole set of characters I designed for an iPhone application developed by MonAmour* ( I also really love the illustrations I imagined for the aborted project called “Pegamania”, I really enjoyed to limit myself to two or three colors and find a way to give volume to complex forms and scenes. For the third one I hesitate between my diploma project, as I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy on it, and obviously the project for Nike I’ve mentioned above.

Our readers would definitely love to know what hardware and software you use when you create your designs?

My art process is really common, I first draw a sketch on Photoshop with a Wacom tablet, then depending on the look I want to give, or I paint in Photoshop using a lot of gradient (I’m fan of it but it’s a dangerous tool as it can  give really fast a global smoothed aspect that makes the image looses its strength), or I directly use the vector layers of the same Photoshop. I rather use Photoshop than Illustrator when it’s about drawing characters in vectors because I find easier to mix them with the different gradient, mask, and brushes tools of it. For some projects I also use cinema 4d for 3d creations.
But really, the thing I still enjoy the most it’s a blank paper, a 2b pen and some good music!

What are the things that inspire you? Can you name a few websites you use for inspiration?

As it’s said in their own name, Fubiz is “a daily dose of inspiration”. I also check really frequently,,, graphic-exchange, and also a French web site I really like that is pure gold mine in terms of illustration: There is also computer love, I love typography, and this blog from an Australian girl that makes stunning type work that is called “for the love of type”.
Most generally, I really find my inspiration in classical painting, I love so much the way Rembrandt uses the light for example. I love sculptures that I can touch so I can really feel the forms not just with my eyes but with my own skin. And finally for my characters, I also really enjoy to watch people outside, from my girlfriend sleeping to an old lady in the subway.

When you began your journey as a designer you probably had a few role models, would you name two of your favorite artists?

Once again I won’t be original but I’m a real big fan of James Jean for the illustration. Thought I found out that it was pretty dangerous to be so mad about an artist as it tends to eat literally your own personality.

For graphic design, one of my main reference could be Joseph Muller-Brochman, even though I find plenty of other highly inspiring people, starting with unknown people who do awesome work you can find daily on the web. Everyday I realize how many people are more skilled, more creative and original than me thanks to the Internet.

Harshh, it’s a hard time we are living in for the ego! :)

Designing has its ups and downs, what is the most difficult problem you ever faced as a designer?

If we don’t include the hard time of learning how to handle the notion of concept, how to understand the rules of an image to finally play with them and turn commonly accepted mistakes into your own originality; I think the hardest thing I’ve had to face is to work for my own.
I hear that most of the designers find hard to work for the others as it implies a lot of constraints, but I found out lately that what costs me the most is to be in front of myself, without anyone telling me what to do, and create something that is at the same time a part of me, and an understandable image for the others. I discovered that being educated to be a good graphic designer (being able to answer well to clients) can be problematic when you want to do something more personal, that implies to find out what you want to talk about, find a personal way to express it, and imagine a narration that will be clear for the others. It’s hard for a single image and for an animation. It’s hard because it needs a lot of honesty to make it really personal.

Looking a bit into the future, how do you think people will look at your designs in four years from now?

I think that in the future, people won’t look at my designs because they won’t remember them. They will be a ridiculous part of a huge amount of creations that flows and never stops, and highlights just a few “stars”. Unfortunately or fortunately I’m not part of those, so I really thing that Graphic design’s History won’t remember me, or at least not yet.

What advice would you give to the newbie designers?

Everything can be learned, don’t listen to the people who talk about gifts, or natural talent. Talent is work, and will. Five years ago I didn’t know how to draw, my specialty was male heads I was drawing just half because I didn’t know the rest, and most of them looked like a potatoe with two wholes. So my advice (as long as my young age and experience allows me to advise anyone) is: go on, learn, spend hard times feeling like a shit to suck so much; the next days will be brighter, and the ecstasy to finally succeed will be delightful!

What do you think your greatest achievement is so far?

My two only achievements so far are that I’ve been chosen through thousands of projects by the behance website comitee to appear in the featured area, and that you proposed me this interview.

How much free time you have in a week and how do you usually spend that?

It obviously depends on the amount of work I have, and this can change a lot from a week to another one. Usually I have a few, but as I am an independent worker, I can organize my time almost as I want. I really love to go to the cinema (a source of inspiration I Forgot to mention, a highly important one), and I adore to read, because I think a graphic designer, as a message producer, has to be beyond everything a sensitive person with an active mind. I also spend as much time as I can with my girlfriend.

What is your favorite PC game and how many hours you spend playing it?

Well, I stopped playing video games a long while ago, but the very last game I got passionate with, spending more than 130 hours on it was final fantasy 7! Yes, you can mock me :)

I really liked this design: What was your drive to create it?

Well, this character was the first one of the Potatoe series, so my drive was not so personal :)  I was answering a brief, but quite a free one. The idea was to design a young girl, a bit Warner Bros inspired, who would be quite girly and cutie.  But some details (the wounded arm, the shoes…) would betray her savage and rebel real personality and make it a more ambiguous character. We did the classical huge eyes to give her this Shrek’s cat-like attitude, and we worked a lot on her position and proportions to the sensation we wanted when looking at her. Did we succeed?

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3 Comments Interview with French Artist Jean-Baptiste Fraisse

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