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Interview Dominic Philibert
Interview Dominic Philibert [中文]

Sometimes, we are just amazed by how talented our peers can be, even get frustrated because of it. I feel like to say that my friend Dom is among those amazing people. However, he can never make me upset or frustrated; I’m just so proud of him! Dominic is absolutely outstanding. From the exaggeration and transfiguration of his caricature, you can sense his sophisticated skills, how he masters the subtle balance between authentic factors and artistic shaping. Of course, that’s not all Dom’s talent can do, besides being a caricaturist, he’s also a musician! A terrific bass player! Oh my…
Dom now lives in Montreal, Canada. As a top caricaturist, he’s good at applying all traditional and digital way to portray character. His clients include the Major League Baseball (MLB) New York and numerous magazines in Europe. We will recognize many familiar faces while going through his portfolio, from politician to pop singer. Dom did a great job on capturing and exaggerating their characteristics. I specifically asked Dom to provide me as many pictures as possible for my interview. The dimension of some pieces is even larger than the thumbnail Dom has posted on his own blog. Our target is to give readers a chance to get a closer look of all these wonderful creations of Dom’s.

Question: Su Haitao
Answer: Dominic Philibert
Dominic: First of all I want to thank you and leewiART for giving me this great opportunity to give an interview on your website; it is an honor.
Q: We would like to know, how you started your career, and how to go success step by step.
When I was young my parents would let me draw on the walls in our home. At the age of six I started to get fascinated by the art of caricature. Every year, for my birthday, my parents would bring me on a day trip to Quebec city to watch caricature artist Pierre Viger (RIP) draw his amazing portraits. I had long admired his work and was honored to have my caricature made as a birthday gift. At the age of seventeen I began the Illustration and Design program at Dawson College in Montreal, Canada. During those studies, I discovered airbrush which I enjoyed immediately and was as a “second nature” to me. Because the gradations were easier to make, the airbrush allowed me to render a finished illustration in half the time. The practice of this technique has helped my gain further knowledge in color and its blending. At the age of twenty one, I started painting for magazine covers and commercial ads. The transition toward digital illustration came much later, when I realized that with tighter deadlines it became much more convenient to work digitally for commercial commissions.
Q: In your work, what is the greatest difficulty you encountered? How did you overcome it?
Each project carries its own share of difficulties but I would say that the major problem is the lack of time due to tight deadlines. Even if I always manage to carry out my projects on time, it doesn’t mean that it is easy to handle. Under such pressure you must focus on what is essential and carry out the fixed plan in the time allotted and with the best possible result. This can also be very stimulating as it pushes me to surpass myself over and over. Finding the proper reference materials can also be a major problem on a tight deadline.
Q: You’re known by us as a caricature artist, and you are also a great musician. How do you manage to balance these two very different aspects?
Well thank you! Normally I do not refer to my two passions in a single interview but I realize that some people are fascinated that I have developed both artistic and musical skills. I have learned music and drawing at approximately the same age. I began playing the trumpet when I was seven. At that time I used to give concerts on the balcony of my parent’s house. I would begin very early in the morning with some very loud off key notes, awaking the entire neighborhood (laughs). Later on I discovered the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was fascinated by their sound and especially by the unique technique and sound of their bassist, Flea. He gave me the desire to learn to play bass and to master its technique. I have always managed to pursue my two passions although it has been getting harder lately to find the time to play.
Dominic Philibert
Q: Do you think which commercial commissioned work is the most interesting (or the most satisfying) one?
I would say that my favorite commission is the illustrations that I created for the Major League Baseball (MLB) New York for their 2001 All-Star Game. The job consisted in completing five illustrations within three days. With such a short deadline I needed to develop shortcuts and I had to learn quickly how to be efficient in the process of creating commercial works. On another side, I was impressed by their professionalism. They offered me a great number of references and even took the time to write me two letters of appreciation which is rarely seen in the business. I really felt appreciated for my work as an artist.
Q: Will there be any difference between the final works submitted to the clients and the beginning ideas? Are there any examples of this?
Usually the clients already have an idea in mind. They send me a sketch or a photomontage to give me a basic idea of the direction of the work. Afterwards I send them a rough sketch for their approval. Once the sketch is accepted I begin to finalize the work by tightening the features and then I start to paint the final illustration. Occasionally there will be minor corrections, but normally there are no modifications to be made after the sketch approbation. Although, when a customer has no idea of what he wants it can be very difficult to guess what result he is really expecting. In these cases we might be caught in a long struggle of modifications and corrections. A situation you definitely want to avoid…
Q: Many readers wonder how your process of creating a caricature is.
First of all I study the face’s features and make many quick sketches where I compare and explore the different possibilities. From there I keep the most interesting ideas and create from these a last rough sketch. I then redraw this same sketch finalizing the details which bring the likeness of the subject. The final stage is the painting where I correct the last details in order to get the most interesting result while keeping the likeness.
Q: Could you show us some sketches in your creative process?
The creative process relies on the research of reference materials which give me information on the positioning, the lighting and the elements of the composition that I will then have to draw. Once the drawing is completed, I start painting which is basically a matter of thinking in terms of values and mastering the color application techniques.
Q: What is the key point to capture the characters’ characteristics do you think?
You have to observe and make a decision as to what is more obvious and predominant in the face or the body. Look for shapes, line of action, balance, and the weight of the different elements on a person’s anatomy. This process is hard to explain considering that if you had many caricaturists sketching the same subject the result would be very different from one to another. Sketching is the key.
Q: How do you handle the exaggeration extent of a character?
Everything comes from observation. When I begin a caricature I try to keep in mind the impression that I had the first time I saw the person. I also look at many photos and videos in order to capture the subject’s gesture. This gives me the information that I need to exaggerate the expression and the posture. This is how I create a character which is interesting and dynamic.
Q: What is your favorite subject matter of painting?
I would say people. I love playing with faces and hands. I like to give my characters funny expressions. I find it really pleasant to distort a face while keeping it very realistic. Most of the time, just a subtle change in the expression or hand’s positioning can make a drawing look way more appealing.
Q: Which artists have great impact on your creativity?
Definitely Mark Fredrickson. Because he managed to innovate in the 90' with a unique and particularly dynamic style based on fisheye distortions and a realistic airbrush rendering. His illustrations are astonishingly original, extremely well composed and are executed by hand in an incredibly short amount of time. He now works on computer, and his work continues to impress me.
※Mark Fredrickso
For more work:
Q: Compare the traditional painting tools, such as pencils, watercolor, with modern digital painting tools, such as Photoshop and other painting software, how do you think the difference between them? Which way do you prefer?
I think that computer is the ideal tool for commercial work. It gives you the possibility to execute the work more rapidly, makes the corrections easier and simplifies the sending. However, the computer generates only prints, contrary to traditional mediums which works shall always have a place in art galleries and exhibitions. I think mastering both is essential as both have their reason of being depending on their purpose.
Q: Your works are so excellent, and so many people like them. But we wonder whether you encountered people who don’t like them and how did you deal with it?
Thank you for your kind words. Of course it has happened to me, and I would say that it should happen even more often (laughs). Because criticism has positive effects on me, it pushes me to work harder which result in improving my skills and getting better at doing my craft. I believe that it is important to keep a critical eye upon our work, we do not have all the truth or answers. Everyone has the right to their own taste or opinions and it is important to not feel personally attacked when our work is questioned.
Q: In your country, what’s the status of caricature artists? Will it be limited in some ways?
In Canada we have the chance to have a great liberty of expression. Artists can express themselves quite freely in their creations, critiques and opinions. I would say that any measure of censure is from within themselves in their fears and limitations, avoiding negative repercussions. Here as anywhere else there are subjects that remain taboo and/or controversial. So it is also mainly simply a question of respecting others.
Q: Could you introduce your current new project?
One of the last projects that I did was a caricature of Susan Boyle. This commission was done for Le Samedi magazine. The concept was to mix the singer Susan Boyle with the Castafiore. I had fun painting the Castafiore (2d) then transformed it into a realistic Susan Boyle (3d effect).
Q: What’s your suggestion for those who want to engage in caricature? How to become a successful caricature artist?
There are no success stories without putting a lot of effort and working really really hard and having discipline. I believe in hard work and dedication. That is the “secret”. Also be yourself, don't be afraid of being different or being judged. And never forget: practice makes perfect. So load your brush and paint!
Q: Please write a sentence with your signature for China’s fans!
Picture Titles:
1. photo of Dominic Philibert; 2. Barack Obama; 3. Putin; 4. Woody Allen; 5. Woody Allen; 6. Saddam Hussein; 7. Thom York; 8. Susan Boyle; 9. Tiger Woods; 10. Queens of the Stone Age; 11.Babe Ruth; 12. Michael Jackson; 13. Harry-Josée Potter done for “Safarir”; 14. Cover for “Xfuns”magazine; 15. Brad Pitt; 16. Twilight; 17. Lady Gaga; 18. Ozzy Osborne; 19. work of Mark Fredickson; 20. Susan Boyle

About Column Author Su Haitao
Su Haitao entered Harbin Normal University's fine art department in 1986, majored in commercial art. After his graduation in 1990, his first job was product packaging designer. In 1994 his career turned into design layout for magazines and soon became art director for various magazines as Modern Music Field, Modern Sports and Cool Music Magazine. The mascot "Big Mouth Crocodile" he designed is a familiar character for all pop music fans in China. At the mean time he hand painted illustrations and cover arts for lots of children's books; and he also tried out to serialize caricature of popular singers to fill the windows in his magazines. In February of this year, his character Doudou became the official mascot of 1996 Asian Winter Games. In 1999 he founded the Movie Show magazine with his friends. Then two years later the remarkable magazine Fantasy came out in July, 2001. It's the first China's first illustrated Fantasy & Sci-Fi magazine at that time, unfortunately the publication stopped in August, 2005. His other publication called Comic Pie has published 3 issues during 2004. From March of 2007, Su became 2d Art Leader of the Dallas based firm Perpetual FX Creative. Now Haitao lives and works in Harbin, China. He leads his studio to be engaged in the in the field of illustration and packaging design, mainly handling products for children.

© 2010 Dominic Philibert.
I appreciate this portrait of mine that Dominic finished disregarding his tight schedule. This is the best present ever!

© Copyright 2010 Dominic Philibert
All art works © Copyright 2010 Dominic Philibert- All Rights Reserved
Interview composed and translated by Su Haitao. Powered by leewiart.com.
For quoting and re-posting permission please e-mail casper_163@163.com and reserve the original web links and all credits. Please respect Copyright law and what the author has achieved.

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