Engraving, a French tradition
No, you are not facing illustrations from the XVIII or XIX century but the creations of a talented French artist, Tom Cuzor. Taking his inspiration from history, fantasy and mythology, he manages to deliver absolutely crazy works thanks to his style.
Tom accepted to answer some of our questions about his technique, his inspirations and his current projects.
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1/ Hello Tom. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background and what made you choose art as a career?
Hello, thank you first of all for this interview, it’s a real pleasure to answer your questions!
My name is Tom Cuzor, I’m 25 years old and I’m an illustrator passionate about Fantasy and Science Fiction. I was born in a family of “drawers” and surrounded by books (my father is a comic book author/draftsman and my mother is an art director). So since childhood I have been bathed in a world of drawings and fantastic stories! I had a very athletic period during high school, which I did in a sport-study baseball program. Then after graduation, feeling that I had done all I could in this field, I went back to my first love: Drawing.
I went to different schools while I was deciding in which direction to go, then I realized that the creation of universes, settings, characters was really what I liked the most. So I joined a video game concept art program that I finished in 2018. After the end of my studies, I stayed two years with the video game world in my sights, before understanding that this world did not correspond to me so much. I couldn’t express myself personally, I found too many constraints, I was never up to date with the latest technologies (3D, VR…) I realized that I didn’t care about the final media, what interested me were the universes, the stories, the characters… And other directions could allow me to express myself more personally (comics, illustration, publishing, JDR…).
2/ We can feel a lot of different inspirations in your work: engraving, fantasy literature, nature… Can you tell us more about your influences and inspirations?
Yes, as a child I was immersed in fairy-tale, mythological or fantastic worlds… I was surrounded by illustrated books (many by Gustave Doré in particular). I was always attracted by the journey that these fantastic universes offered me, everything that took me elsewhere, far from my “usual” daily life and I would even say more, everything that took me far from my time (which never really interested me I think). Concerning my attraction for nature, I left Paris at seven years old to move to Brittany, where I could run through fields and forests every day.
3/ How would you describe yourself as an artist ? What is your philosophy about art?
I don’t think I have a very precise answer to these questions. What makes me what I am artistically today are the works I have traveled among, the writers I have trusted to guide me for the time of a book, the directors for the time of a film or the painters for the time of a dive into a painting. I’m not a fan of the word “artist”, it’s not precise enough I think (and this term often acts as a fuzzy label that one can proudly display). I’m more sensitive to names like “storytellers”, “inventors of universes”, or any other name that can be given to someone who has something to tell, an experience to propose, whether it’s through one medium or another.
4/ Can you come back with us on your work around Michael Moorcock’s “Dog of War”?
“The Dog of War” is a novel that I discovered in 2017 I think, I was immediately seduced by this story that for me represents the quintessential quest of the lone knight, wandering in the heart of the deepest darkness. We are directly plunged into the footsteps of this former captain of a mercenary troop, in the heart of a 17th century Germany ravaged by war and plague, and who is going to be a witness and an actor of events that are going to infinitely exceed the reality that he has known until now. This story has this dizzying thing that you can only touch if you start from a very credible reality, in which appear completely crazy and fantastic events/elements. It was really the story I was waiting for to express myself graphically at that moment of my life.
5/ Your working technique is incredibly precise in my opinion, so much so that it reminds me of the engravers of the XIXth century. Can you explain us a little more your way of working ?
Thanks for the compliment! Actually, this way of working (ink on paper, with a pen) came to me when I stopped chasing the video game industry, I stopped using the computer and then I switched to paper. Paper was a medium that had been tempting me for some time, traditional techniques have this something attractive, this “aged/patinated” side that I find immediately similar to legendary and mythological stories. Concerning my way of working, I think my images mostly in lights and shadows (more than in pattern or posing for example). I’m not a fan of “during the action”, I prefer to suggest it, it’s something that always touched me more (in movies or others…) when I was suggested something that was going to happen or that had happened.
6/ Do you work more in digital or traditional? Or a mix of both?
I often do my composition research in digital to go faster, but I do my illustrations in traditional.
7/ What would be your dream project?
Well, for now, the projects I’m working on are pretty close to what I like to do most in the world (illustrated book/graphic fantasy novel/SF or JDR). But I leave myself some room to dream! On the content, I don’t have much specific in mind, I think that working on a universe or a story that makes the viewer/reader travel or be transported corresponds to any ideal project. For the form, I love the book format but maybe the JDR, the video game or even the video format will tempt me more one day!
8/ Which artists inspire you the most?
Obviously I can’t deny my admiration for great artists like Gustave Doré, Friedrich, Caravaggio but also more contemporary artists like Giger, Bernie Wrightson, Frazetta, Beksinski, Rosinski, Kentaro Miura, Gérard Trignac, Vladimir Nenov, Denis Gordeev and many others… But I would also mention Hidetaka Miyazaki for his series of souls/bloodborne games (whether it is for the universes or the angle with which one is plunged into it) which inspired me enormously and continues to do so!
9/ What is your favorite work in your portfolio and why does it resonate so much with you?
I would say that my favorite illustration is the one that is in the works on my drawing table every day, because it is the one that makes me get up in the morning to give my best. But I must admit that I like the face to face between Ulrich von Bek (the dog of war) and Lucifer in the library. It is a symbol of terrible revelations and also signals the beginning of his quest! And I’m happy with my light in this visual too! (laughs)
10/ What are your current projects… And future projects ?
I have just finished illustrating a collection of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and “Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne which will be published by Bragelonne. I also plan to illustrate the short story “L’Assassin de Dieu” by Pierre Pelot, a story that I would describe as a “dark tale of the stars” that I really loved. I have also been fighting for some time to have “Le chien de guerre” illustrated. I’m also working on a project for an illustrated short story collection, written by Paul Herbert in a universe oscillating between dark fantasy and science fiction. Several other projects with equally crazy universes that I can’t talk about yet are on the horizon. You will know more soon!
The last movie you saw?
The last book you read?
“The Divine Comedy” by Dante
The last graphic novel you read?
The last video game you played?
I don’t keep up with the latest releases, I often switch between Dark Souls (1, 3 and Bloodborne) and The Witcher 3.
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