Interview to Sebastian Cabrol
Today we have an impressive illustrator and comic artist, his talent is huge, his name: Sebastian Cabrol. His speciality is comic although he is an accomplished illustrator, and it is a pleasure to have him here today.
Let's begin with the interview.
How were your beginnings in the art world?
Like everything, it started when I was little, drawing with my brothers or in school; naturally, we knew the comic books that were in our country, as well as the superhero comic, a publishing house called Columba, that would publish a huge amount of books for mass consumption in all kinds of genre; they were very popular and I grew up reading authors like Robin Wood, Lucho Olivera and loads more that were actually great artists involved with "romantic", and plainly, adventure stories. Of course I also read Skorpio and sometimes Fierro, addressed to an older audience. That world (and the animation one, amongst which Robotech was renowed) ended up making me interested in depicting that which impressed me in those drawings, be it copying straight from the pages or trying to represent what I had just seen in the cinema a while back.
Name your favourite amongst your works.
That's hard to say. It happens that I have a favourite within that line of my, personal, and another one that I like the same for technical reasons, or because it came out the way I intended it to. But joining both views, I would say it is "Mascarada" a drawing made with ink wash, colored digitally.
How do you see the work situation for illustrators in your country?
If I say just from my own experience, I would say it's a hard one, strenuous. You have to insist all the time and not expect work offers to rain every day. It is common to see very talented illustrators complain of the lack of "constant" work in their facebook profiles, or any other social network. On the other hand, I see a lot of artists that are starting out, and also a wide range of publishing opportunities for the growing amount of Argentinean artists. The key is to enter the publishing circuit.
As an illustrator tell us what you are looking for in your art.
Basically, I try to satisfy a personal wish, to depict freely and without censorship that which sthetically attracts me. That elusive feeling when we were children looking at something that impressed us, that showed us something different (maybe the artists view). We are all exposed to the dangers of reproducing certain kind of look in series, generic, that comes by default in mass products, the challenge to go further, and see what is your view, which is what we have to offer different, even if that difference is subtle. Seeing my drawings retrospectively, I would say there is a balance between two forces: classical representation, based on illustration and comics, and some tendency to surrealism or irrationality as a source for disturbing situations. Lately I am paying a attention to the narrative mechanisms of classic horror, but always passing it through my own sieve.
How long could it take you to make one of your best works?
It depends of how complex it is. In general, a simple illustration, even if I work on A3 size or bigger, it's always easier that a comic page, at least in the level of complexity that I manage. I have made drawings in an evening, and others have taken me weeks. Also I noticed that each time I am less patient to get a drawing finished (patience that was in a way insecurity and fear of ruining the drawing with a bad mark) and in some cases, as with digital drawing, i try to finish in the moment, even if it takes me two or three hours non-stop.
Tell us a bit about your work, what progranms you use and why, which ones are more convenient in each moment to produce your pieces.
In the beginning i used Photoshop, but only to color drawings previously inked. I used to do it with the mouse, taking an effort that i wouldn’t do today, but then seemed like an exciting opportunity, you could color without a tablet! In the sense, Photoshop is strong and some people have made incredible works with the mouse (see Scuzzo, for example). At the same time (2009) more or less I learn about Corel painter and it seemed very interesting. Since I started using a graphics tablet i investigated the numerous amount of software for artists and image editors, trying many and seeing which ones were more aproppiate from my way of work. Nowadays i use a series of programs in tandem (sacrilege!) as i am not so expert as to do everything just in one. For inking, when I decide to do it digitally, i use mostly AzDrawing 2.02, a free japanese program focused on sketching and inking. This program takes great advantage of the tablets sensibility, moulding the line just as if we were using pens or brushes, something that Photoshop doesn’t do. Try and compare. Thus way I can emulate traditional inking and achieve results identical to my usual way of inking that is sometimes problematic.
For coloring, my personal option is Paint tool SAI, which is although quite limited, and very few brushes, it’s very modifiable and gives an appearance that has nothing to envy of Painter, and above all it doesn’t freeze or delays when working on big canvases. This program shares with Azdrawing a very dificult parametre of estabilisation that interprets you marks and stylize them, in case your your hand is not too firm. I use these programs, but Photoshop is always there.
We would like you to tell us some trick or advice for those starting out.
This is general, and should not be taken as an expert’s word: ALWAYS make sketches, layouts, however you call it. When facing a drawing, it is essential to know what is it what we want to draw, size and proportion, how it will be placed in the page, the lighting, etc. For this you have to draw a thumbnail, a rough shape of the great drawing we want to make, as we would see in the opposite path, beyond our window. Above all it is not alowed to think “ah, samll and blurry is easy. Now, how do I draw it?” that’s another story, what matters it that IDEA you had; don’t bury it with your limitations; there is always time to study perspective and anatomy. The idea comes first, and if you drew it, half your work is already done.
And for the more advanced, do you have some tip?
Honestly, no. I’m not very methodical and probably I never face a drawing the same way i did with the last, so it varies. Also what is advanced for me can be amateur for others.
About the future, do you have anything planned?
To work from drawing. And that such work gives me the opportunity to explore the posiblities of a style. So it’s not merely work.
Tell us about comics, and why you chose that field.
As I said, comics have always been part of my life. I guess i’m interested in telling a story. Comis is funtamentally narrative. To draw perfectly goes to a second plane. I still have a lot to learn in that sense; and you only learn planning, sketching, seeing the finished sequences.
There is a negative side about comics, and that is repetition, i mena you usually draw the same character in different poses and situations, which can beacome tedious to it’s creator, beacuse, by nature, the artist needs to draw different things. In your case, what do you do to overcome this?
I still try not to let that matter, that it can be tedious and the reason why it’s hard to keep the same level in every panel. A comic page is not a drawing, it’s 4, 6 or 10. Every drawing has repetitions, but also different placements, their own perspective, lighting, etc. To use well the reduced space is also a challenge; by instinct we tend to fill the whole page, but if we think about it a bit more, it seems that giving it more air, the general composition looks more interesting.
Your illustrations are very dark, how do you move in that field? Why does it call you attention?
I would say that fundamentally what interests me is the fantastic. I think that the fantastic, if for a second we admit that the supernatural exists outside the imagination, it has its own laws and those are not comprehensible. I tend to think that the irreal and the strange comes out to get us lost; it’s an intense manifestation of fears that are harmful. How could it do us any good? So, to represent it is a way of taming something dark in essence. Then it’s the issue of obsessions; without being too seroius, sometimes images appear to haunt us, and even if we don’t understand them, it’s necesary to make them clear, sort them. The fact that they are not rational doesn’t make them less improtant.
And about darkness, I thing the fantastic genre has reached it’s highest peaks while fantasy is not benevolent, and complex human perversion finds its equivalent in a monstruosity that desecrates the matter and the spirit (what a sentence). Otherwise we are in front of a fairy tale, that if it lacks depth, it seems naive and uninteresting. That said, I don’t deny fantasy work that has no horror or evil as a main subject; certain fables and religious traditions in the world are most beautiful, and have nothing apparently sinister dominating the atmosphere.
How ling can it take you to make a comic page, or the whole comic?
Ideal for me would be to work a day for pencils and a day for inking. I have done it sometimes, usually when there was a deadline to meet. The whole comic can take more than that squence: pencil, ink. Often you have to make changes, corrections. Not to say if pages have to be lettered or coloured. In the american industry it’s known its method based in fordism, task division. As many people are assigned to do the work as tasks there are, and the mechanism starts rolling: one artist does pencil, and gives it to the inker, as he carries on with the next. The inker finishes his, and it’s time for the colorer to add his art. Then comes the lettering, and so on until the 22 or 24 pages are complete. The speed at wich they finish projects is impressive.
They say that in five million years there won’t be any of todays art left. What do you think of that? Your work, and that of the great masters, will be extinguished, forgotten and destroyed. Or you think not? What do you think of arts inmortality... Do you think it exists? Or everything has a expiry date?
Five million years is a huge amount of time, that in a human time scale has never been experienced since we are thinking beings. It’s probably there won’t be anything left, nor culture, nor humanity. I don’t think an artist creates to survive infinitely. Art is a way of communication in part (mainly) attached to the culture in which it is created. We only know and are identified with tragedies that are not older than 2500 years. I don’t know, I think at an experience level, artwork in general ages quickly; just a handful of the massive amount of artistic creations will be remembered in a near future. In the past there surely had been fewer artists; writers, musicians and actors. Nowdays we could think quantitatively (according to positivism) that there are more technical and educational means so more Leonardos and super genius appear. Today’s obsession with speed and the immediate new causes that, if there are geniuses, there may be diluted in the constant information tide.
If there would be a world cataclysm and you would have the posibity to start again in another planet, scaping in a mothership, tell us 3 artworks that you would put in the ship to save them?
Very hard question. First, I would have to be an art expert to answer, and not just that, I would need to know the 90% of art produced by humanity. But trimming ignorance, and from personal taste, i would take:
-Garden of earthly delights, Bosch
-The birth of Venus, Boticelli
It could have been others, but wurely others will save the Gioconda, David, etc.
Thank you, Maestro, for this fantastic interview. It’s been an honor to have you in Hysterical Minds. Would you like to tell us one last thing?
Just to thank you for this interview, David. And for introduving me to Hysterical Minds. King regards to everyone.