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Nicolas Ridou

Work / Illustration

French illustrator Nicolas Ridou makes “the atmosphere the story” in his hypnotic works

It’s often boredom that produces the best ideas for illustrator and web designer Nicolas Ridou. It’s in this state, one we can all relate to in some capacity, that everyday objects transform into something weird and wonderful, lending themselves to the surreal stories which unfold through Nicolas’ digital illustrations. Playing with the notion of consumerism, the repetitive production line regularly features in the French illustrator’s work, poking fun at the society we’re born into. Nicolas aptly describes his work as “pessimistic, but optimistically pessimistic.”

They are by no means typical production lines, however, as Nicolas reimagines the repetitive process to “provide a different role than the one we expect,” he explains. Whether it’s a ruby stiletto, recurrently stomping down on a coconut which is then obliterated into pieces by blue lightning, or a dreamy take on burger production surrounding a burning car on water, Nicolas’ hypnotic animations lull absurd dialogues into existence.

Having studied at Strasbourg’s Hautes Ecoles des Arts du Rain for five years, he importantly learned that “artistic reflection is just as important as drawing.” Upon graduating, he tells us, “I always wanted to avoid working in a ‘company’ because I’ve always needed multiple experiences.” Consequently venturing into the industry as a freelancer, it was here that he started drawing more and more inspiration from TV shows in-between stints of boredom.

“Much of my inspiration comes from programmes where form is often more important than substance,” Nicolas continues. Saccharine commercials, hysterical reality shows, investigations on serial killers, for instance, all make their way into the drama of Nicolas’ work. Coupled with an aesthetic derived from traditional Japanese printmaking, he tries “to make the atmosphere the story.” With experimentation at the core of his practice, he views his chosen medium of illustration as not only an outlet for expression, but also “a playground where the nostalgic child can explore everything. And more than anything, I play,” he says of his job.

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Nicolas Ridou