The biggest quality I admire is the ability to have a unique style. There are so many trends and gimmicks in this industry—and I’m guilty of a lot of these—but sometimes you stumble upon artists that are so unique and true to their own personal vision, and for me that is the biggest quality I could think of."– Jeremy Paillotin
If you find yourself fighting the urge to step into one of Jeremy Paillotin's evocative landscapes, be assured that you're not alone. The French artist has married natural ability and dedicated study to culminate in considerable admiration from his peers and esteemed artists in the field of concept art, and there's every reason to expect this kind of reception to continue. Possessing a painterly style that puts the focus on expressive brushstrokes and textural richness, there is nothing at all gimmicky about Jeremy's strengths or the fact that he too is developing the sort of distinctly personal mark that elevates a select few.
Thanks for chatting with me, Jeremy! Let's explore your artistic background and development: When did you discover your passion for art and what steps have led you to your current station?
Thanks for having me! I have always been surrounded by art even in my childhood; here in France comic books are a big part of the culture, and I remember peeking through my Dad’s collection, which included a lot of Moebius, Enki Bilal and Jeffrey Jones amongst others, who are still big inspirations for me to this day, so I guess this is where it all started. I’ve always been drawing as well, but never considered it a proper career path until I was sixteen. I was doing pretty badly in school, but loved sketching on everything I could find. I didn’t know about concept art back then, so I went for the more traditional option when you’re a creative person: graphic design. I left school at sixteen and started a homeschool program that was teaching graphic design. That program sucked, and I quickly understood that the best resources to learn were all on the internet, and for free; so I started learning Photoshop and all the rest on my own for a few years. That’s when I first heard about concept art, I think it was a Feng Zhu video on YouTube, and immediately that clicked for me. That’s what I wanted to do and nothing else.
The few years I had spent learning graphic design on my own had already taught me a lot about self-discipline and basic art principles; so from that point on I started working every day on my art skills until I wasn’t so shit anymore. There’s a huge gap between drawing for fun in class and actually knowing how to paint and design proper stuff; that was hard for me to admit, but ultimately after a few years of working on my own I started getting mails from people that wanted to work with me. Today, I’m twenty-two and I’m still really early in my career and there’s a lot more work ahead of me than there is behind, but at least I know that it pays off now."
What are the main themes that you like to examine in your art?
I guess the things I like to paint are the things that inspire me a lot in real life. It’s hard to define exactly what it is about a subject that makes you want to paint it, but for me it seems to orbit around landscapes, medieval/ancient/folklore themes. What I try to convey the most in my painting is a sense of mystery and wonder, something that you can’t really explain. I think that is what inspires me the most."
Your recent works have a compelling painterly quality, with a noted focus on mood and lighting. Can you expand on the details of your creative process and how your style and techniques have evolved over the years?
I’m a big fan of the painterly look. My biggest influence in concept art is probably Jaime Jones, and he is a real master of brushwork. There’s something about seeing the actual strokes on a painting that is amazing to me, it makes it really human, even when it’s digital painting. Of course, I’m not blaming the use of photos and 3D; they’re an essential part of concept art and I’m the first one to use them, but even when I do, I always try to make it as painterly as possible, which is sometimes one of my weaknesses because I often focus more on that aspect than on the actual subject matter. As for my technique, I’d say it depends on what I have to do; for client work I tend to have a really precise “step by step” workflow and use a lot of photos because they’re more realistic and faster, and that’s what clients want. When it comes to personal work, I allow myself to be more chaotic and experimental in my process; that’s when it tends to look more painterly, I guess."
Do you have a favourite painting in your gallery? If so, what would you consider to be the strengths of the piece, visually and/or conceptually?
I think my favorite painting is probably “The Red Moon Pilgrims.” It’s one of the rare paintings where I’m really happy with the subject matter. I was talking in the other question about these ancient/folklore themes I like to paint and that sense of mystery, and I think I managed it better here than in my other paintings. It stands out from the usual High Fantasy concept art as well, so I think it’s one of my most personal pieces. And I love huge grassy plains too, so that’s a plus."
Is there a tip or trick of the trade that helps to improve your workflow which you can share with readers?
There are so many little things, and a lot of them have been shared countless times by other artists, but I’d say . . . before every big painting you start, take the time to THINK about it first, then gather references in a folder, and open it up in the Adobe Bridge expansion for Photoshop so it’ll always be there for you to look at. Everything will flow better if you’re prepared properly. What I sometimes like to do before I tackle a big piece is think about it and gather a lot of references and inspiration the night before, then go to sleep and start the painting early in the morning with a fresh mind. That’s what works best for me."
What qualities do you find inspirational in your favourite artists or those you admire in the field?
The biggest quality I admire is the ability to have a unique style. There are so many trends and gimmicks in this industry—and I’m guilty of a lot of these—but sometimes you stumble upon artists that are so unique and true to their own personal vision, and for me that is the biggest quality I could think of. I’m thinking about artists like Tom Scholes, Sergey Kolesov, or Jeff Simpson."
As an artist, how do you deal with creative setbacks or lack of motivation?
I still don’t have an answer to that, I think, and I probably never will. Lack of motivation is a thing everyone faces, and it happens more often that you’d like. The best way to fight it is to actually get up and paint, because motivation comes easily once you started painting. So . . . just get off your butt and paint; there’s no real way around it."
What advice has influenced you?
It may seem really simple, but just taking time once in a while to really think about what you’re doing. A lot of people swear by “Practice, practice, practice,” I rather say “Think, practice, practice.” Think about what you want, what you need and how to achieve it, and you’ll make less dumb decisions. You’ll still make them, but maybe a bit less."
What is your dream project?
Developing a super cool new IP in collaboration with Team Ico, Hideo Kojima and Naughty Dog, based on old secret works by the Moebius/Myazaki duo. That’d be pretty sweet."
What has been the highlight of your DeviantArt experience so far, and how do you see the community as contributing to your growth as an artist?
I’ve been on DeviantArt since the first day I posted art online, and I‘m still here. This is definitely where I got noticed first, and without the community I wouldn’t be where I am now, so I’m super grateful."
What other talent do you possess that others might be surprised to know about?
Not really a “talent” per se, but I have two other passions and to me they’re almost as big as my passion for art. Those are snowboarding and mountain biking. I live in the south of France, where we have all kinds of beautiful places for outdoor activities, so I’ve always been doing that. I guess my inspiration for drawing landscapes comes from there as well."
Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can share?
Yes, I have something I’m currently working on that I am excited about, but that I can’t share for now, sadly. You’ll have to be patient!"
Patient we shall be, Jeremy! You can see more of his work at: