Artist Interview: Pierre-Paul Pariseau


Did you receive formal education in design and illustration? How did you come to find yourself enamoured with the world of illustrating?

I am self-taught.
I always loved art but didn’t really started before I was in my twenties. I did a few clumsy oil paintings then but soon discovered the technique of photo-collages. I was amazed by the surreal imagery that could be created using a few “cutouts” from photos in magazines; I had found my medium. At the beginning my collages were very simple, I used a pair of scissors and glue for many years. Later on they became more "sophisticated" and I started to exhibit in cafés, cultural centres and galleries. People kept telling me that I could be illustrating. I didn’t know about this possibility before. I wasn’t happy with my work as a computer programmer so I decided to build a portfolio and go see art directors of publications around town. I received an immediate positive answer, it was the beginning of my career as an illustrator and it goes on since.


Tell us a bit about your background and your pursuit to work with so many clients on an international scope.
As I started to get jobs here in Montreal I decided to go see art directors in Toronto to show my work (there was no computers then). This way I could illustrate articles in English and later on show my work on the American market. This is a long story but with perseverance you can get to the international market. If you ask me what I am the most proud of that would be to have lasted as an illustrator. Now I have clients here in North America and Europe.

What do you feel are some of the greatest influences into evolving into your very prominent style?
At the beginning my big influence then was the surrealist artists like Dali, Magritte, and others. Everything that was surrealist, in painting but also in literature, in poetry and in movies. Photomontage pioneers also like John Heartfield, Max Ernst, Jacques Prévert. Rapidly although I became inspired by a lot of things coming my way, in my surroundings, to a point that it is difficult to name anything in particular. I always carry on me a notebook in which I can write (mainly) and draw ideas for new images, for titles of work, etc ...
I can also write down notes not necessarily related to my inspiration of the moment but about music I would like to listen to, exhibitions I would like to see, websites I should visit. I write down interesting parts of books I’m currently reading, etc. These notes also feed, indirectly, my inspiration sometimes. I have written a large quantity of these notebooks, sometimes I browse into them to look for an idea, but most of the time I concentrate on what I have written recently. So everything can inspire me, I listen, observe, look; I am interested in cultural and social lives. This enrich my visual vocabulary and allows me to better translate my ideas and emotions.

What materials do you feel you cannot live without as an artist? What is your studio / creative space like and what do you like to keep in there in order to remain focused?
In my studio I have, of course, my computer. I have also many drawers full of cut-outs more or less classified by categories (hands, faces, cars, animals, planes, buildings, skies, science, etc.). I scan these cut-outs, export them in Photoshop and transform them adding colours, changing dimension, etc. Step by step I compose my images this way.

Are there specific themes that you enjoy venturing into other others? What kind of ideas tend to excite you more than others?
In my personal work I improvise, starting from some idea I noted in my book, a cut-out I love, etc ... All this is a mystery. The next 2 questions are completing my answer. At the end I need to surprise myself.

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What do you find so attractive about the bold colours that you use in your imagery? In what way do you feel your work benefits from being so vibrant?
I cannot answer this question really consciously I think. It was an important step for me in the experiment I did with Photoshop to, at one point, take away all the original colours from the photos I was using (cut-outs) to put my own. That was a step further to more freedom in my compositions, more flexibility to achieve my ideas. My palette is very vibrant right now but this can change, in a large scale or simply form images to images.

In what ways do you approach your personal work differently than when you are commissioned to do a piece?
Personal work is as much important as professional work. There are different qualities in both kind of work. The personal projects are very important because with them you can let yourself go completely in the depths of your imagination, into a loose narrative. You can be "crazy" as you want, to surprise yourself as you never did before. My personal work do not always have a clear meaning, it allows a wide space for interpretation. I do not like to be too straightforward; I do not want to do things that are spelled out, a little bit of "ambiguity" is always more interesting, it leaves the door open, it stimulates curiosity. But when comes the time to do a commission I can have the ability to produce simple, clear and straightforward images. Being totally free it is more easy to experiment with different techniques (no deadline to respect, you have the time to redo as you want) and to come out of this with interesting discoveries that you can use in commissioned works later, if relevant.
The constraints (subjects, sizes, delays, etc.) brought by the commissioned work can be an important challenge for the spirit. This experience bring the artist into areas of discomfort that could be, at the end, very freeing, exhilarating. Again, you discover part of your imagination that you would probably have not otherwise. These discoverings can be used in your personal work later on. Both kinds of artworks, the personal and the commissioned, are feeding each other.

Tell us a bit about your process creating your Book and how you feel with the final product.

I have composed my book using the software that is provided by the Californian company BLURB, a self-publishing platform that enables their users to create, self-publish, promote, share, and sell their own print and ebooks. It is easy to use and has allowed me to do a great book that can be used as a “business card”, a great portfolio.

What should people expect to see from you in the coming year? Is there a particular project that you are excited to move forward with?
My work now is more and more in motion, I have some exhibitions to come in 2018 and I pursue my evolution as an artist, technically and spiritually. I invite you to follow me on social networks and more specifically to come visit my site from time to time.

You can buy my work easily on my site in the section “Boutique”. Absolutely affordable to all.