Friday, April 17, 2009

Fantasy Art - Marc Simonetti

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Marc Simonetti is a French artist, born in 1977 and currently living in Annecy, France. He graduated from the INSA Lyon School with an engineer diploma. After studying at the Emile Cohl School Marc Simonetti started to work in the artistic field as a background 3D artist for the video game industry. Then he began to work as a freelance artist, working with companies such as Fantasy Flight Games, Pocket SF, Bragelonne and Science et Vie Junior, and making the cover art for many Fantasy and SF novels. Marc won in 2006 a Blizzard art contest in Diablo category.

Interview - Marc Simonetti

Dark Wolf: Marc thank you for your amiability.
Marc Simonetti: Thanks for the interview, Mihai.

Dark Wolf: Do you remember when you started to draw for the first time? What attracted you toward art?
Marc Simonetti: In fact, I don't remember me not drawing. I've always been drawing when I was a child, and never stopped. But I must have to say, that I began getting really better when I made my job of it. Working 12 hours a day, every day, in a particular field, then you can truly learn something.
I've always been attracted toward arts, because my parents made me visiting quite a big number of museums, from the Office Museum of Florence to the Louvre in Paris.
Today, with Internet and media everybody has an approach on art, so the Stendhal syndrome doesn't exist anymore (you know, when someone is just struck by the beauty of an art piece), but discovering the Renaissance masters like Raphael or Caravaggio I had a chock of that kind. Then, many things caused my imagination to grow wildly like Star Wars, Willow, or John Howe and Frazetta's paintings on my fantasy books.

Dark Wolf: What are your sources of inspiration? Who do you consider to have been the most influential figure on your career so far?
Marc Simonetti: My sources of inspiration are endless indeed. It starts from movies, books, and music. But any real thing can be very inspiring such as the beauty of the sky or stuff like that. I also look a lot for other artists on Internet and in art books. I'm still fascinated by Georges Hull, Craig Mullins, John Wallin Liberto, Aleksi Briclot or Marko Djurdjevic's works. And I truly think that the artist who's been the most influential figure in my career is “Sparth“ Nicolas Bouvier. I was in awe looking at his art before getting in the field of art, and I had the chance to discuss it many times till this moment. He brought me a lot by his pictures and by the way he just considers art.

DW: You are specialized on 2D and 3D drawing, but do you prefer to work on one in particular?
MS: Well in fact, I've started with 3D as a video game 3D background modeler, but I don't do 3D anymore. It's far more time consuming to produce one single image, and it needs so much technical knowledge and huge computers too.
I do like 2D far more, because you can go faster to the essential. I use 3D from time to time to help me compose an image or to correct a tricky perspective, it's just a tool in my 2D process, now.

DW: What are the advantages and disadvantages offered by freelancing work?
MS: In the advantages I'd say:
- You can work on many various subjects, with very various publics. For example, you can do some dark fantasy or zombies cover art made for young adults in the morning and in the afternoon work for the concept arts for a long feature film for children. That somehow is really fun to do, impossible to get bored of a subject!
- Another advantage is that you can lead your own work in the direction you find the most interesting. By the choice of the commission and by the way you work on them.
- Last big advantage, you usually work from home, which means a place very quiet , perfect for focusing on the work.

In the disadvantages:
- You don't have real colleagues to create a synergy and learn new things. All you learn is by yourself.
- You're alone most of the time. I was a very social guy, talking far too much, and now I'm much more like a bear or something like that if you see what I mean.
- And you can't work on very confidential subjects, as most of them requires to be employed because of DNA's issues.

DW: Speaking of working at home may I ask if this is your favorite working place? Do you like to have other working conditions as well, I mean conditions of light, mood or quietness?
MS: Working at home is much more a question of circumstances, as I'm working for many different places, such as USA, France, Canada, or Italy. This way my schedule is quite flexible.
But I've got a place at home that I've arranged so that it's quite a good place to work. I can put some music when I need a certain feeling, or I can hear birds singing from my window...
About conditions, I need enough light not to have my eyes too tired, but not directly on the screen. Quietness is very important to me, as I need a lot of concentration to work.
A good chair is very important too, but that's not that interesting I guess...

DW: You made many book covers, especially for SF and Fantasy novels. Is your interest in these genres purely professional or is it a personal one as well?
MS: I've been a big reader before making cover art. I still read between 2 or 3 books a week, that's very important to me. I read every book I've got to illustrate. It's very important to me to do something both attractive and close to the text itself.
I know what it is like to look at a cover and saying “but it has nothing to do with the cover!”

DW: Being an avid reader gives you an advantage when you are making a cover art? What involves the work on such a piece?
MS: I think it's a great advantage when the book is good indeed. Then I have a precise idea of how the cover should look like. For example, I've made the cover of “The Green Brain” by Frank Herbert, which was one of the very first books that I read. I had a good knowledge of what was the story about.
The biggest issue is that I want people to read it. So I try to make covers that show a beautiful part of the book, with its mood, or I try to make covers that ask questions, and don't reveal answers until you've read the book.

DW: Does it happen for some of the cover artworks not to be accepted by the publisher? Do you have certain guidelines for your work on a book cover? Do you work sometimes with the author of the respective novel too?
MS: It happened once for me on more than a hundred cover arts I've made. I've read the book and it was very cheesy Sci-fi, with a violet planet, kangaroo aliens fighting plants in eggs like space ships...The story was good, but so hard to illustrate that the publisher and me didn't find a proper rough.
About the guidelines it truly depends on the publisher. Some already have a very precise view of what they want, and some send me the book and let me do the proposal. Most of the time I still have some freedom and I always can suggest things to improve a cover.
I've sometimes worked with the author of the novel and their opinion is very important to me. I've mostly worked with French authors, but once I had a feedback from an author which I was a fan before making covers, that he liked my cover: that was great!

DW: Is there a title or an author for which would you like to make the cover?
MS: Plenty! I already illustrate some of my favorite author, like HP Lovecraft, Neal Asher, China Mieville, Mary Gentle, Dan Simmons or Frank Herbert.
But I wish I could someday work on cover art for George RR Martin, Glen Cook or Fritz Leiber...

DW: You also have works in video games field. What involves the work in this field? How much different is from the work made on a book cover?
MS: It's somehow very different from the cover art field, it's all about moods and details. I remembered what Stephan Martiniere wrote about theme parks. He said that every aspects of a concept art made for theme park should go in the same direction that leads to the theme itself. It means that every object you draw should be coherent with the mood and the universe you depict.
You've got some more freedom in the rendering of the pictures too, you can make more graphical, or unusual compositions, there's far less constraints due to the marketing field. A cover art is often considered more like a selling advertisement than a piece of art. For example, making a cover art for a fantasy novel for children you often have to draw a youngster dressed in medieval fashion fighting a dragon: you have to represent archetypes that are directly a question of marketing and targets...

DW: Which was the most rewarding moment of your career until now?
MS: I've made a big part of the concept arts for a long feature animation film that should be released at the end of the year or next year. That was a tremendous experience, and I can't wait to see this on the big screen. This is being made by Nwave pictures.

DW: Today there are many websites that can be considered virtual art shows. Would you like someday your works to be represented in an actual art show?
MS: I wish someday, but I feel myself still too awkward to be considered as an accomplished artist. There are still many steps to climb to achieve that. And to be honest I'm much more interested in the road that leads to it than in the state of self-satisfaction.

DW: What aspects of your work would you like to still improve? If it were possible is there anything you would like to change in your career so far?
MS: Every aspect still needs to be improved for me and this is endless. Perspective, anatomy, colors, touch, composition are such basics and vast domains, that my whole life won't be enough to master them.
I think there's no ultimate truth in art, no unbreakable rule that leads you to a perfect piece. It's much more a question of tastes and trends, and of equilibrium of the pictures.
I wouldn't change anything in my career for now, because I'm having a great time, going on slowly but surely. Maybe some time later I'll try to find another freelancer like me to work with in order to share visions and processes to create a synergy.

DW: At what are you working right now and what other future projects do you have?
MS: Today, I'm working on two book covers and interior illustrations, one on dinosaurs and one on scientific police. I'm also making some cover arts for Sci-Fi and fantasy novels and one for a video game for Nintendo DS. I should soon work on concept arts for a video game and I'm in for a big car TV advertisement (matte paintings and concept arts)...and that's it.

Thank you very much for your time and answers. It has been a pleasure.
Thanks a lot Mihai :)

For complete information and a wider portfolio of Marc Simonetti please visit his website,

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.


ediFanoB said...

I like it when you present Fantasy Art.
I efinitely need to visit the website of Marc Simonetti. Another great artist.

Donna said...

I can just sit and gaze at fantasy art all day. It just fascinates me. Marc Simonetti work is wonderful. Wow, the creativity he has to create these awesome pieces of art.

I browse through the art work at all the time, before I know it an hour has passed. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow...that's amazing! :) I wish he would have been my cover artist! He has a God-given talent for sure! :)

God bless,
Taylor J. Beisler

Mihai A. said...

Michael, thank you very much. It means a lot :)

Fantasy Dreamer, I know what you mean, I loose myself in sites like deviantart too :)

Taylor, if I was a writer I would go with Marc Simonetti as cover artist :)