Now that summer’s here, we reached out to San Francisco-based illustrator and animator Pascal Campion to create an original illustration for our annual Hulu Days of Summer calendar. Campion — who comes up with a new image just about every day for his blog — is known for the way he captures the essence of simple, everyday moments in his work. His summery illustration, On a Fine Summer Day portrays a quiet summer afternoon with nothing but an ocean view, a small breeze and some alone time with your loved one (and perhaps a little Hulu). Since this is our first time featuring an artist’s work on Hulu, we asked Campion a few questions about his one-drawing-a-day process. — The Hulu Team
Hulu: Most of your illustrations are perfect “Kodak” moments. Are any of your illustrations real-life occurrences?
Most of them are, actually, either things that have happened the way I draw them, or inspired by events that have happened. The one thing that is different is that I try to focus on little moments that people don’t usually stop to consider while they are in the middle of doing them, little fleeting instants that carry so much emotions, so much life. At least, that’s what I try to do. The more I draw them, the more I notice them in real life … and they happen everywhere, all the time.
Where did you find your inspiration(s)?
In everyday life. In my daughter, my wife, my friends, my work. Sometimes I’ll be biking down the street and see something that I like and it will wind up in the next sketch. Sometimes it’s being at the supermarket or giving a bath to my daughter and she looks at me and smiles. It lasts for a second, but the memory of it stays with me for a long time. These are the things that interest me the most.
Even when I draw monkeys or elephants standing one atop the other, it’s a way for me to express and release some energy, some joy, some sort of emotion that I am feeling at the time. My sketches of the day almost always reflect a state of mind that I am in when I’m doing them.
You manage to churn out an image almost every day of the year for your blog, and for this particular project, you came up with 8 different designs in what seemed like an afternoon. Does it just get easier and easier for you? How did you get so fast?
Pascal Campion: Some things get easier, and some get harder. Drawing definitely gets easier the more I do it — at least, the way I do it. Finding new ways of saying things with images is hard though, but it’s a phenomenal experience and feeling when I can make an image that carries some emotions, especially when people can relate to them (even more so when these people are not artists).
How did I get so fast? Practice and choices. I draw every day of the week, and I try to rest on the weekends. Drawing every day at the same time has helped me to become more efficient. But something else that is as important is the choices you make as an artist. I chose a long time ago that I wanted a style that was fast. I did gouache paintings when I was younger, and would spend a whole week on just one painting. It would look realistic and pretty good, but I would get bored of it by the end of the second day, and the rest of the time, it was a grind to get back to it. After the painting would be done, I felt drained of energy and disgusted with art.
I realized that,although I admired art that was extremely rendered, I was not enjoying doing it. That’s when I started working on developing a way of drawing and finishing my drawings that would be fast. I wanted to be able to carry a message through the image, and still have fun doing it. I worked on simplifying my shapes, figuring out what was important to say with the image, what was not, what was pretty but unnecessary, and what I absolutely needed to spend more time on. I still feel like I’m not there yet, but at least I still love doing my images and I feel like I keep growing as an artist!
What’s been your most unusual project?
That’s an interesting question. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and it’s really hard for me to answer because I feel all my jobs are fairly unique. I am a freelancer, so I get a lot of different short projects as well as bigger ones. Sometimes I need to do animations using only stick figures; sometimes I need to design nails for a particular TV show. Sometimes I do animatics with extremely well-established characters, and sometimes I have a deadline that is already past due when I actually start on the job. (This is true — it happened again not very long ago!)
I really like this type of environment when you don’t really know what the next job is going to look like.
Of course, it’s always within the realm of animation and design, and the more I go, the more the jobs that I get are tailored to my style and way of working … but it’s always different!
Where do you work the best?
In my studio, at regular hours during the day. This kinds of destroys the myth of the night owl artist type, but I actually don’t like working at night at all. I’m an early riser, and I need to have a routine set to help me do focused and efficient work. If I’m at home, I’m more comfortable, but less likely to produce work. I’ll always want to go play with my daughter, hang out with my wife, or just take a nap. If I’m at the studio, I know that I should be working.
What’s your favorite color?
It changes depending on my mood and the time of the day, time of the year.
Tablet and laptop? Or pencil and sketchbook?
Wacom Tablet and desktop for all my colored works. I do keep a sketchbook, though. I can’t say I draw in it every day. Sometimes I won’t touch it for weeks at the time, and sometimes I’ll fill one up in a week. It comes and goes. I love both mediums though. I don’t have a preference for one or the other — they are just different ways of expressing my ideas.
Do you watch anything on Hulu?
Ha! I have to be honest and say that I haven’t watched all that much Hulu, or much of anything on the web, mostly because I tend to work when I’m near a computer. But I see that a lot of my favorite shows are there … hmmm …