ARTIST INTERVIEWS MAGAZINE. June 2004 Collector's Edition. 1). ARTIST INTERVIEWS: What has been your inspiration for your paintings? Did you have the ideas in your mind when you were painting, or were they a product of the moment?
CHRISTOPHE VACHER: Inspiration for a subject comes very often with music. While listening, there is some kind of "click" at some point, an idea or vision that develops, and I have to draw a quick sketch not to lose it. Later, I will refine this sketch and make it a finished painting. Sometimes, inspiration comes just by noticing an interesting combination of shapes or colors, most of the times in a context that will have nothing to do with the future painting. Travel is also a rich source of inspiration.
2). A.I.: Your paintings have an incredible architectural mastery. I wanted to ask you, how do you begin one of your paintings, or digital images?
CV: As I mentioned before, I generally draw a quick sketch first, to be able to remember the concept later when I need to paint the full image. From there, either the image is very clear in my mind and I don't need any other elements, or I try to find visual references: pictures for similar landscapes, color inspiration or models. Then, I conceive the sketch, carefully paying attention to composition, shapes and scale. I don't always paint on the same support, because I like variety, but most of the time, I paint on canvas. I cover it with 2 or 3 coats of Gesso and draw my sketch over when it' s dry. After that, sometimes, I paint an undercoat of Burnt Umber, defining the light and shadow. I will use this undercoat later when I paint colors over it, keeping colors more transparent in some areas to keep the warm tones showing through. Most of the time, I will paint an overall rough painting with all the colors, before I work in it again refining only the places that need to be refined. The final painting is varnished (glossy).
For a digital painting, I use Photoshop, and the process is simpler, as you can control all your parameters (Values, color saturation, object placements, etc…) so much better.
The difference is that the process and final product with real paint is a much a stronger textural and tactile experience, it offers a journey for the senses that no computer will ever be able to offer -at least, not in a natural manner.
3). A.I.: You master so many techniques. You work with oil, acrylic painting, and create digital art. Which technique makes you feel more free when you are creating?
CV: Every technique is different and has its own "personality." I enjoy all of them pretty much the same way, but what makes me like working with oils or acrylics the most is the final result, this almost three dimensional feeling of a flat image that you get when you look at a painting, especially in a gallery environment, where the light has been worked to enhance this illusion.
4). A.I.: With so many outstanding art works that you have done, which is one is the one that you feel closest to?
I don't think there is one specifically, since each has a different purpose. But pieces like "Spirit Rising", "Endless Dream", "Mistress of the Winds" or "The Giants" are probably more representative of what I feel satisfied with -although an artist is never completely satisfied of his work.
5). A.I.: Christophe, you have worked for Walt Disney Studios for almost 9 years, creating art and working with celebrities. Which one of them impressed you the most?
CV: Well, concept artists never really work directly with the celebrities; we sometimes see some of them. But to tell you the truth, after living for that long in the Hollywood crowd, the people who impress me the most here are not the Stars, but rather the ones who are struggling to survive and reach out for their dreams, while keeping integrity and real values.
6). A.I.: When did you begin to work as an illustrator for publishing houses and to do book covers?
CV: I was an illustrator before I started animation, 14 years ago. Then I stopped when I entered my first animation studio, and I started painting for galleries on the side. That's what I've been focusing on. Then I left animation for a while in February 2002 and pushed my gallery work. At that time, some publishers and videogame companies contacted me to freelance for them. So I did. Now, I'm trying to work on all this at the same time I'm doing some concept artwork for Dreamworks studios. That's a lot of work, but I like it. Hopefully, next year will be a little quieter.
7). A.I.: Since your work is surreal and futuristic, do you enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy? Which authors do you enjoy reading and which books have your read lately?
CV: I've read some classics like The Lord of the Rings (and love the movies) and some other fantasy/ sci-fi books when I was a teenager, and I like to get a good book once in a while. But when I read, it's more often self-improvement stuff, or things about Spirituality. In any case, I'm so busy these days that I don't have too much time to read anyway.
8). A.I.: Do you listen to music while you are working?
CV: Yes. It depends on the mood of the moment. It can go from Dead can Dance to Loreena Mc Kennitt, going through Enya or Metallica (!), and a lot of movie soundtracks.
9). A.I.: You have achieved all your past goals, and now you have began as an independent artist. What are Christophe's dreams for the future?
CV: Well, keep developing the artistic career I started, and on a more intimate level, find the right girl and maybe later buy a nice house in a quiet area and have a family. One thing for sure, though: LA is not the right place for neither of those, so I know I will probably have to move away soon.
And I terribly miss the four seasons and really green springs and summers (LA is just a burnt toast after April).
10). A.I.: Finally, what's a day in the life of Christophe Vacher?
CV: It depends on what I'm working on, but I try to maintain regular work hours for the freelance stuff (or when I work for a studio, which is the case now), and reserve the evening for my personal work. And I keep a workout time of 1 1/2 hour at the gym or the dojo (I've been doing martial arts for 20 years now) every other day around 6:30 PM. It can happen I also work on the weekends, but I never replace friends' time by work time.
11). A.I.: Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
CV: Mmh, actually yes…It's dinner time, and my cooking is waiting on the stove. I'll have a glass of wine for you guys. Thanks again for the interview.
A.I.: Thank you Christophe!