Welcome to the twisted world of Bordeaux-based designer Thibaut Gleize, a hilariously absurd alternate universe where dogs can be sleazy flashers in plastic rain macs, mobility scooter joyriders or living, breathing Sylvester Stallone-esque toupees. In Gleize’s weird world, sloths wear acrylic nails, gingerbread men bathe in cups of hot chocolate and sausages are everywhere.
Thibaut’s vision brings together his impressive technical ability as a graphic designer and illustrator with the artist’s surreal humour derived from influences as diverse as anthropomorphisation and food, Americana and internet culture. And with dolphins swimming in charcoal BBQs, who wouldn’t want to live in Gleize-world? We caught up with Thibault to hear a little more.
You previously trained in cabinet making, marquetry and infographics, so what led you to illustration and graphic design?
Drawing and my creative side as a child… My interest for illustration, graphic design, has grown thanks to my infographics experience, and the combination of all this led me to drawing the way I do today.
Tell me a little about your process — how do you go about producing your illustrations?
I keep a notebook with all kind of ideas, objects from everyday life mostly, and I wonder how I could turn them into something funny. I always try to produce an offbeat, unconventional drawing — the final idea will only catch my attention if it is funny and absurd. My girlfriend calls it “LOL-realism”. I place a lot of importance on the composition and impact of my drawings. The french gallery Sergeant Paper wrote [about my work] “Beasts look like men, whilst men look like beasts”. It sounds better in french — we use the same word to say beast and stupid — but I think it sums up my process pretty well.
Why do your illustrations focus so heavily on these part-animal, part-human monsters?
Humour is very central in my work, the more absurd the better. First, I think it is funny to give human postures to animals. But it is also a way of making fun of humans. At the end of the day, the animals look more intelligent than the human characters. I try to create an impression of a situation caught by mistake, as if the characters were saying “What am I doing here?” At the same time, I want them to look happy and amused by the situation.
What inspires your work?
I grew up in the ‘90s and I take my inspiration from the pop culture of the time — ads, cartoons, and mostly movies — the kind that could not be directed nowadays because it glorified a sort of flashy capitalism. It was aesthetically interesting because of its opulence: too much, glitter, gold, colours… It made me dream at the time. Today, I draw in that fake happiness an ironic vision of the world.
Finally (we had to ask…): If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A sloth! They do nothing all day and smile all the time!