As we are celebrating the creation of the creasenso Editions, let’s take a look back at the creative work and career of Jérôme Masi.
How did this desire to become an illustrator was born?
My home environment planted the first seeds. My father went to the Beaux-Arts’ school as an architect student, so very early on, I was immersed in a certain aesthetic. Surely, these influences woke me up and encouraged me to do something creative. In primary and middle school, school wasn’t my thing. But I quickly realized my friend’s interests for my drawing skills. Being able to acquire a social status with my pencil immediately attracted me. Fun fact: at the beginning of the 90’s, it was the emergence of the hip-hop style in France, I was 15 years old and I was drawing a lot of lettering and graffs. I did my first mural in my middle school’s courtyard as my first art project. The result wasn’t that great and I quickly realized that transposing a paper work on a wall isn’t easy!
You studied illustration and animation at Émile Cohl’s school, then worked in different sectors such as video games and graphic design. How do you think these different experiences have you’re your aesthetic evolved?
I was an employee only for two years in my entire career. I was hired in the video game industry right after my studies. It was a teamwork job, quite interesting but very time consuming; and I felt that I had no many individual options to explore. In a big production machine like video games, we are just a small link in the chain that keeps it running. That’s what lead me to be independent very early on. My actual work is clearly a mix between my skills in graphic design, my education as an illustrator at Émile Cohl’s school and my interest in design, architecture, and culture in general. I have met each of these disciplines in my life and it seems logical that my current work shows as a synthesis of all of them.
In my most personal work, I like to represent silences, thoughts, interiority. It’s a way to stretch time.
You have a minimalist style, why this apparent simplicity? Does it allow you to make your words more impactful?
Yes, I think so… in my most personal work, I like to represent silences, thoughts, interiority. It’s a way to stretch time. I like to treat evolution, change – hence the recurring motif of walking characters. By the way, my first silk-screen printing made with Creasenso dealt with this subject, there was a duplication between two identical characters, one standing and one moving. Above all, I aspire to not always give all the keys to the images I make in order to keep a poetic character. I like sobriety in general, whether it is artistic, aesthetic or human.
Today, you work also in a traditional way more than digital. On which project do you favor to work with one or the other of these methods?
My essence of work is found on my personal creations, my paintings, silkscreen, objects, etc. The digital work is more for commissioned work. I really appreciate doing both and being able to freely switch from one to the other. But it’s true that I make it sacred to put a design and a canvas: it’s like giving it a different status, allowing it to exist longer, at home or in someone else’s place. Longer than a digital file which will disappear in my hard drive in a few years.
We can find your illustrations in editions but also in advertising. Is there a project in particular who really got your attention?
It’s really hard to say, a lot of them were important steps for me. A long time ago, I worked on the sales campaign for Ligne Roset’s brand, and I think it was a new starting point for my creation. Most recently, one of the highlight’s projects I worked on was children’s’ books that I made with Gallimard Jeunesse: Rock Pop and Black Music. I worked with Olivier Cachin on Black music. He is a journalist specialized in Hip-Hop. Among other things, he presented Rap line when I was a kid, one of the first talk show about urban culture. Even though my work has evolved since, I keep a real affection for this project.
Can you talk about your current inspiration?
My inspirations are very diverse, and they move all the time! There is an event which I took part in that made a great impression on me: theLB Project, it was an art camp organized by Lucas Beaufort last summer. The event gathered about twenty artists in a paradisiacal place near Saint-Tropez, it was super fun and very inspiring. It was a happy parenthesis that made me question my work. After that moment I needed time to start painting again.
What would be your dream project?
I already had the chance to realize some of my dreams, for example the one of becoming an illustrator and to enjoy the sense of freedom that comes with it. There are a bunch of various and achievable projects that I could enjoy, crafting a rug for example! I would also like to diversify and maybe do a few more collabs. Mixing the know-how, work with designers, architects, on scenography designs, on showcases…
How is your work environment? Where do you work?
My studio is in Annecy. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of room to work both on the computer and on large canvases. On a daily basis, I need to be surrounded by things I love, second-hand objects or design pieces for example. I also enjoy having some of my works on the walls and, of course, the works of others, it’s very important! I have been sharing this studio with my friend Guillaume for a few years now. He is a director and has his own production company. We had the occasion to work on some nice projects together.
What do you see through the window?
The sea… Well, to be completely honest I see… a parking lot.
Do you have a graphic novel to recommend?
Only one graphic novel is not easy because I read quite a few! But if you ask me now, I think directly of Pucelle by Florence Dupré la Tour. I did all my studies with her, the evolution of her work. She’s dealing with topical, very courageous, intimate, and sometimes completely crazy subjects! I think that the exercise she managed to do with this book is quite an achievement.
An artist or project that inspires you?
There is a guy I like in illustration who is very active on Instagram, it’s Camilo Huinca aka Onlyjoke. I really like what his illustrations express, and I feel close to his style! There is also Damien Poulain’s work. His style is quite minimalist and timeless; his work could just as easily be from the 1960s as from today. I love the work of designer Ronan Bouroullec or painter Peter Opheim. I could name a lot of them! Recently I also met Mambo who is a very nice guy, I find this very inspiring too!
A magical product or design?
The Eames lobby chair or the magic sponge from Spontex.
A promising technology or innovation?
I’m not very geeky, I’m more of an instinctive person! But I must say that with a friend or two, we wonder about NFTs. For now, it puts me off as much as it makes me curious, I don’t know…. It’s clear that NFTs are part of our time and just for that, they deserve to be questioned.
Jérôme Masi est un illustrateur français représenté par Creasenso.