Antoine Eckart on his whimsical and zippy approach to illustration
The French illustrator's "unaccessible" style seems to draw in quite the clientele. Currently based in Lyon, he spends his time flitting between commissioned and self-published projects – leading to a vast portfolio that sees his humorous yet poetic sketches, drawings and scribbles take the stage at Arty Farty, DIY Art Market, Kiblind and others.
- Ayla Angelos
- 29 November 2019
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
When asked whether his illustrations hold any hidden messages or meaning, Antione Eckart responds with slight hesitation. “That’s a difficult question, as my work is not so accessible,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I guess if there’s an expectation (good or bad), I’m happy with it.”
Antoine’s ‘unaccessible’ style seems to draw in quite the clientele. The French illustrator, currently based in Lyon, spends his time flitting between commissioned and self-published projects – succeeding to a vast portfolio that sees his humorous yet poetic sketches, drawings and scribbles take the stage at Arty Farty, DIY Art Market, F.COM, Vuilding Paris, Kiblind and many others. Having first pursued his interest in illustration during his Graphic Design master’s degree, he notes how it all stems back to his past life as a graffiti writer. “When I started my course,” he says, “I was completely unable to draw in an academic way and this drove my teachers nuts.” They even went so far as saying that he should quit his course – but this didn’t stop Antoine in his path for a second. “At the same time, I also started to develop a special interest in drawing, a bit like a monomaniac – so for me, it was inconceivable to quit.”
Well, we’re most certainly thankful that he didn’t. Citing his love for the works of Claude Ponti – one of France’s most celebrated children’s writers and illustrators – and French illustrator, cartoons and comics artist Roland Topor, Antoine makes sure to clarify that neither have a direct influence on his drawings explicitly. “But, I’m feeling close to the way of using drawing to create a particular atmosphere and to tell unique stories,” – a trope used commonly throughout the work of his key inspirations. Elsewhere, he turns to the elements that surround him in order to stay curious and connected with his “everyday environment”. Because, let’s have it, the most useful and rousing ideas can form right under your nose. And last but most poignant is his longing for days bygone. “I can be quite a nostalgic person, so generally I’m more attracted to the things from the past,” he says. Fuelled by this selection of stimuli, Antoine collects “unusual” shapes, books, people and music in his mind, before utilising this material to make a series of offbeat drawings.
While in the studio, Antoine explains how his days are never quite the time. On top of being an illustrator, he’s also a graphic designer and a teacher. “I always switch between these three activities that are different but also complementary in a way,” he says. “My only routine is to literally show up at my desk everyday – although everyday is different.” His impromptu working method is mirrored within his illustrative work, a style that echoes with a rawness and spontaneity. Working this way means that he doesn’t adhere to any specific techniques or tools, and instead goes with what kind of mood he’s in that day. “In general, when I start a new piece, I prefer to work with cheap tools like a pencil or Bic pens – this way I can have a really spontaneous render,” he adds. “It doesn’t need a specific preparation or space, and I love to work with the imperfections of my lines and the frame.”
A recent project saw Antoine work with French pop band Kcidy, after being commissioned to produce a “playful and various universe”. Pauline, the composer and singer, first approached Antoine to design the cover of a concept album that they were recording. “This was really funny and specific because they invited 50 amateurs and novice musicians to play their song as a Simon Says game,” he says. For the illustrative component, Antoine produced a concept that was to transcribe the atmosphere of the recording studio in his own visual language – achieved by “representing Pauline in the centre as a bandmaster, surrounded by many little creatures that symbolised the people who participated in this project.”
This whimsical and zippy concept is truly indicative of his approach to illustration. “I just try my best to be as honest as possible within my work and my drawings, and I hope that people can feel it,” he admits. “I guess there is a message in my drawings – sometimes they are really clear and sometimes they are not. I prefer to let the people read between the lines and have their own interpretation.”