Olivier Kugler: illustrator (english version)

Olivier Kugler have a passion for drawing which started from a young age, encouraged by his father influenced. He chose to do Graphic Design at college, before to go in New York and began to seek freelance illustration work with little success. In his illustration Olivier brings to life the people he meets and the places he goes, and creates an alternative to reality. His sensitive drawings convey emotions and atmospheres beautifully. Olivier has become an extremely successful illustrator, and he proved that when he received the 2011 V&A Illustration Awards. Thanks for is quick contribution.

. How did you get started as an illustrator? 
I studied graphic-design in Pforzheim, Germany. Used to work as a graphic designer for about two years and got a scholarship to do a MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York (Illustration as a Visual Essay Programme). Since I've been a child I loved to draw. Kind of always wanted to become a comic book/graphic novel illustrator. After I graduated from Pforzheim I worked as a graphic designer for two and a half years as I couldn't get any illustration work… wasn't good enough i guess… also there was no market in Germany for the kind of work I wanted to do… so I was a bit frustrated and hardly drew after graduating until a friend of mine who started to do a masters degree in visual communication at the school of visual arts in new york. He told me about the school's "illustration as visual essay" program led by marshall arisman and their approach to drawing on location. I started to draw again and a year later I received a scholarship from the german academic exchange service and got a place in the program. The next two years I spent drawing on location all over New York.
. Can you said some thing about your XXI V&A Illustration Awards
It was self initiated. I wanted to go traveling in iran and do a story about a person i meet there whilst traveling… before I went to iran I thought it would be nice to meet a local truck driver and join him on a longer journey through the country. I told the editor of XXI about my idea and he said. "Great! Let's do it."

. What artist or artists inspired you? 
I fell in love with Tintin when I was about seven or eight. Hergé's work is probably the reason why I became an illustrator.

. What are you biggest influences?
Franco Belgian comic book artists like for example Hergé, Jean GiraudJaques Tardi or Francois Bourgeon... the maltese/american comic book artist/reporter Joe Sacco... artists like David Hockney or Otto Dix… and Life… what is around me… city Life… reportage photography... and traveling of course... I love discovering new different places and meeting different people.

. What's your typical workday like? 
I hardly draw whilst I am traveling anymore. I take photos that i use as reference when I am back in my studio. I also made many notes and very rough sketches in my sketch/note book. When I am traveling I don't want to spend a lot of time sitting on my bum or standing around sketching… I want to get out there. Explore! And see as much as I can. When I am back in the studio I draw from my reference photos. I love this process as the drawing at my desk looking at my photos takes me back to the places I visited and the people I met.
. Can you tell use your creative process during and after your travel, how long did the process take?
Whilst traveling I took tons of reference photos with my small digital camera. When I was back in London I was looking through all my reference material and started to do sketches/ a layout of the double page spreads. Next step was to do the pencil line drawings. As I said I do them quite large… the original drawings are around 4/5 times the size they are getting printed in the magazine later. Then I scan in the drawings and import them into "freehand" where I arrange the pages and do the colouring. The last step then is to hand write the text and place it in the layout. I worked for about a year on the whole 30 pages.

. What advice would you give?
Work hard! Draw every day… invest as much time into your as you can afford to, especially when you are a beginner and you want to make a living as an artist or an illustrator… you need to be very good if you want to compete with the big beasts. Don't only do short sketches! It is very important, that you also work on longer studies/larger, more detailed drawings where you look exactly at the subject you are drawing. Have fun!

. What rules do you have about your book? 
Some people must fill every part of a page, other must make captions or headlines, some use particular media in particular books or have different books for different subjects? What are your rules? No rules.
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