Once upon a time in the recent past, my six year old son spent two weeks in the hospital with pneumonia. It sucked. After running out of movies to watch, I finally introduced him to The Iron Giant. He loved it. I couldn’t have been happier. This of course green lit my ability to buy an Iron Giant screen print. Luckily for me, it didn’t take long for Mondo to produce one. Even more fortuitous, it was absolutely gorgeous. I was not familiar with the artist, but clearly he had tremendous talent. I looked for more of his work and found it to be just as impressive. My only complaint, there wasn’t much to find in the way of movie posters. Clearly though, I wasn’t the only one to see his genius as his popularity has blown up over the last year. We finally caught up with the artistic muscles from Brussels to hit him with our tough Nerdy questions.
Nerdlocker (NL): Tell us about yourself.
Laurent Durieux (LD): I am a graphic designer and illustrator and have been doing this professionnally for over 20 years now. I live in Brussels, Belgium (that’s between Holland and France in case you’re wondering where this is) I also teach graphic design with my twin brother Jack in a private College in Brussels, been doing this for 15 years now. I have 2 daughters and I am thrilled that people seem to like my work, especially the US fan base as I think my work is very much influenced by American illustrators. It’s a true reward to be appreciated and collected by people all over the world. I hope one day, I’ll be able to meet some of them during some show opening…
NL: Brussels has a great history of comics, as witnessed by the Belgian Comics Museum and the Brussels’ Comic Book Route. Has that history helped you develop into an internationally known artist?
LD: As a kid, my dream was to become a comic author, and being Belgian certainly influenced me. When I was a kid, I used to copy all sorts of authors, mainly science fiction.
I love comics but not so much Belgian comics although some of them are truly great, people like François Schuiten, Edgard P. Jacobs, Franquin, Hergé of course are true references when one talk about comics.
My absolute hero would have to be the late great french comic artist Jean Giraud also known as Moebius!
NL: Sticking with the Belgian Comics Museum, I know they have large sections dedicated to The Smurfs as well as local hero Tintin. Are you a fan of either? Which do you prefer and why?
LD: I’m not really fan of either, but I definitely prefer Tintin! I grew up with Tintin, my father knew Georges Rémi (Hergé) back in the 40’s…. Like I said he is a sort of God for whoever is into comics you know.
NL:Where do you find inspiration and what are some of your influences?
LD: I find inspiration in many different places, painting, advertising, cinema, vintage pulp covers like Modern Mechanix, etc… But I’m really into the naivety of the “future that never was” or what you call Retrofutur. As for my influences, it’s pretty wide and mainly American actually (except for Mœbius), people like illustrator Arthur Radebaugh who did those amazing BOHN advertsing illustrations, designer Norman Bel geddes (the father of actress Barbra Bel geddes), Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, Brad Holland, graphic designer and illustrator Milton Glaser (I love NY), designer Raymond Lœwy, Antonio Petruccelli who did striking Fortune Magazine covers in the 30’s and 40’s, comic heros Wally Wood, Frank Godwin and Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon), I really love the «grisailles» which is a sort of wooden block wall paper print technique from the 18th or 19th century, that list could go on and on…
NL:Belgium is known for its waffles. What is your favorite topping for this breakfast treat?
LD: Sorry to disappoint you but I don’t eat waffles for breakfast…
NL:When did you get your professional start in the art world?
LD: 20 years ago, my first participation in a group show was in 1993 in Brussels.
NL:How did you get involved in creating such fantastic nerd related art?
LD: Until very recently I didn’t even know what nerd meant, or at least not in the sense you all think of.
And I don’t consider myself as being a geek or a nerd, but if nerds and geeks like my stuff, it’s fine too. I’ve always done things for myself, most of my early pieces were just to self promote my illustration abilities. It’s the best way to achieve quality, you are your own judge and nobody tells you to change this or that, or that they don’t like yellow, they would like blue instead, etc…
I suppose my breakthrough happened when I participated in a group show about the french director Jacques TATI, I did an illustration titled François à l’Americaine which you can see on my Flickr page. People were very enthusiastic about it and some guy told me I should submit it to the famous Austrian based LÜZER’S ARCHIVE magazine.
Months later I got a e-mail from them telling me I had been selected to be amongst the «Worldwide 200 best Illustrators» of 2012!! It all started because of that I suppose…
NL:What’s your favorite nerd related snack?
LD: Again I don’t see myself as a nerd, I’m 42. I have never played any video games, it’s not my cup of tea, never was… I usually don’t eat while I read comic books or books, while watching movies, well belgian chocolate of course!!!
NL:Who are some of your favorite artists?
LD: In no preference order:
Lorenzo Mattotti and so many many more…
NL:What posters/art do you have on display in your house?
LD: I have Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (not an original)
Saul Steinberg (also one of my idols)
Antonio Petruccelli’s Fortune cover
a couple of originals from MŒBIUS, etc…
NL:Star Wars of Star Trek? Why?
LD: Star Wars of course… Why? See answer below
NL:Give us a Nerdy secret that most people don’t know about you.
LD: I’ve never ever seen any episode of Star trek!
NL:What do you do in your free time?
LD: I look after my kids and I listen to a lot of music too! Oh and I look after my wife too…
NL:What is your favorite movie?
LD: It’s a no brainer, gotta be Blade Runner. This movie is perfection, period. The music, the story, the actors, the atmosphere,
I love everything in that movie, to me it’s way more than just a science fiction movie, it’s much more.
NL:What is your favorite comic book or comic book character?
LD: My favourite comic book character has to be Lt Mike S. Blueberry in the series Blueberry by Jean MŒBIUS Giraud.
NL:What are some of your upcoming projects?
LD: I’ve got many, most of them I cannot really talk about in detail. But I have a few ongoing projects to come with Dark Hall Mansion, Mondo of course, Acid Free Gallery, Hero Complex Gallery, Phone Booth Gallery and Bottleneck Gallery in New York. I’m currently finishing a Blu-ray/DVD jacket cover of a very cool movie for a very cool publishing company.
NL:Is there a question you’ve always wanted to be asked, but have never found the opportunity?
LD: A couple like “Would you like to do the poster for the sequel of Blade Runner?”or maybe something like “Would you like to do the cover of this week’s issue of the New Yorker?” you know simple stuff, really…
And there you have it! Special thanks to Laurent for taking the time to indulge our nerdiness. To check out more of his work, visit his Flickr page here. And of course, please show your support for a great artist by visiting his shop – Retropolis.
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