Xavier Lalanne-Tauzia never studied illustration, but it hasn’t stopped him from excelling in the medium. Born and raised in Hong Kong, the illustrator, who currently works as a graphic designer at Vice, originally studied art direction. Now living and working in Brooklyn, Xavier, who also dabbles his hand at freelance every now and again, talks us through his recent work. He uses one word: humorous – an apt description of Xavier’s boldly colourful works.
He depicts characters full of fun-filled cheekiness. In one illustration from Bloomberg Businessweek, he illustrates a “drunk boi” accompanying an article about beer consumption in Japan during the rugby World Cup. With a trickle of sweat rolling down the rugby-shaped head of a character, the bold use of block colour combined with comical subjects is a signature token of Xavier’s work. “I love seeing this drunk rugby guy and the brick people beating up a computer!” he adds on the imaginative, anthropomorphic commission. “I got to lean into a more Japanese cartoon style for the rugby piece, and I got to draw bricks beating up a computer like the car smash bonus stage in street fighter. Win win!”
Despite the whacky content of his work, as the whole, Xavier’s work is very clean – an admission he makes openly to us but wishes that he could sometimes “break away” from. Even though it’s very popular with clients, his personal style preferences lay in the more “official-looking” realms, and with a hint of the utilitarian, akin to old textbook illustrations or lottery cards for example, he takes cues from what is around him and adds a fun twist as a cherry on top.
“I’ve always been doodling,” he tells It’s Nice That of his long-term relationship with making images. “I think it was my interest in cartoons, along with skateboard graphics and French comics in my early teens,” the illustrator continues. He remembers drawing the Blind Reaper, World Industries characters and, like many of us, watching The Simpsons every day after school. As he got older, his dad introduced the budding creative to the French comics magazine Fluide Glacial, bringing the young Xavier’s attention to more “adult” comics, as well as more mature humour.
Now, he cites the indie comics of Michael Deforge, Johnny Ryan and Simon Hanselmann as his influences. A recent interest into Japanese horror comics such as the works of Kazuo Umezu and Junji Ito have also provided inspiration of late. Their work is an example of things that make him want to draw more, and coupled with a myriad of daily observations from his day-to-day life, psychic pamphlets, bodegas, spiritual oils, van decal designs and food brand mascots for example, Xavier’s imagination is left to go wild with creative interpretation.
In a personal project, documenting his travels in Hong Kong (where his mother is from) and Taiwan, Xavier created a series of works based on the extensive trips from the past year. The project was meaningful for its fun creative approach, drawings things based on the pictures he’d taken or found interesting, or that he’d eaten. Then, he collated various aspects of the images together, creating a buzzing amalgamation of personality with refined artworks. “I found it to be a really fun way to sort of scrapbook memories into an illustration,” says Xavier on the process. And fortuitously, he’s recently been contacted by Culture Trip to do a similar thing for one of their articles, “so it was nice to have a personal project turn into an opportunity,” he concludes.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.