Artist of the Week – Francois Schuiten

Time was coming to a close on Monday and as Peter was wrapping up the lesson I knew the artist of the week was coming, I zoned out temporarily while packing up, heard the name and then heard Peter comment he thought he was similar to the great Jean Giraud. I leapt up and cheered. After taking a look at his work I do see some similarities to Giraud, especially in his use of colour.

So this week I introduce you all to Francois Schuiten.

Francois (born 1956) is a Belgian comic book artist, born to parents who were both architects and this will factor into part of my quick bio shortly. He studied at the Saint-Luc Institute in Brussels (75′-77′ and while here struck up a great partnership with Claude Renard who ran the comics divison at the school. Together they created several of their first works. In 75′ he was published in (wait for the grin from me)  Métal Hurlant (Heavy Metal) the famous French comic magazine.

For part of the lesson Peter was trying to get across the point that environments are just as much of a character as your walking & talking variety and tell just as much story. After seeing this while researching Francois, it all clicked:

“His love of architecture became apparent in the series Cities of the Fantastic, an evocation of fantastic, partly imaginary cities that he created with his friend Benoît Peeters from 1983 for the Belgian monthly comics magazine (À Suivre). Every story focuses on one city or building, and further explores a world where architects, urbanists, and ultimately “urbatects”, are the leading powers and architecture is the driving force behind society.”

Along with his architectural influence, Francois cites influences from artists and scientists alike but the major names in the list are the likes of Jules Verne and M.C Escher. He was even asked to design and illustrate the cover jacket for Verne’s rediscovered book ‘Paris in the Twentieth Century’.

Before I wrap up there a few other note worthy mentions. He was working in 3D computer graphics back in 1991 with Maurice Benayoun with the series Quarxs (so a great early adopter of upcoming technology) and has worked as a production designer on several movies.  Gwendoline by Just Jaeckin, Mr. Nobody and Toto le héros by Jaco Van Dormael, Taxandria by Raoul Servais, The Golden Compass by Chris Weitz and Mars et Avril by Martin Villeneuve.

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