In high demand, this very versatile designer tells us about some of his commissioned and personal illustration work
Creation Numerique magazine
In the beginning a photographer, a photomontage artist as well as an illustrator, Laudator has become a seasoned expert in image production and digital retouch over the past few years.
Interview of Laudator by Thierry Guilbert
Translation Sylvie Faidit
Laudator has been in the photo business for the past twenty years. Trained from both ACE3P and Louis Lumière, he soon specializes in magazine photography.
He got his first recognition with a report on transient art in public places (performances, artistic events, street shows…). This work was rewarded by a grant from the Ministry of Culture’s photography department of that time. He spent a total of three to four years on this project together with a fellow journalist and art specialist, Irène Exiga. Both of them would meet over 300 artists from tens of European countries.
In 1988, the RATP (the Parisian Subway Authority) decides to give its financial support to two traveling exhibits based on his report.
His early digital work dates back to 1991. Laudator experiences his first « foreplays » with a computer mouse on a Photoshop American Beta 07. He started a self-training period on this computer version that he will later pursue on various upgraded versions of Adobe.
But the year 1992 marks a real turning point in Laudator’s digital work. By doing commissioned work, he really became a frontrunner in digital photoshooting using the first Leaf equipment: « I found myself involved in early digital photoshooting projects working with Leaf photo equipment. The intent was to design the first digital catalogs », Laudator explains.
Since 1995, he has produced several book jackets for detective and horror stories (« Fleuve Noir » and Albin Michel publishers, the « Reader’s Digest » and the « J’ai Lu » book line)…
A very successful endeavor since Laudator signed nearly 200 book covers.
HIS APPROACH AS AN ILLUSTRATOR
As a photomontage artist, an illustrator and a digital intermediary, Laudator masters over thirty computer softwares. Among those, Photoshop and Painter, of course, but also Poser although he finds it rather limited.
As a true image compositer, he adopted a working habit that enables him to quickly deliver on orders from agencies. As many photographers, he owns an impressive image collection. Under Cumulus, he roughly listed and indexed 35000 pictures. Truly an extremely comprehensive data base that he has been referencing according to his needs in photomontage.
« I do not only work in digital photoshooting but I also do direct scanning, and digital texture design… » all this of course adds to his existing stockpile of images. His most recurring themes are the so-called « new technological » visuals. Numbers of enquiries to specialized online image banks can also be included to his record. « Présentation Directe » and « FontShop » catalogs are like an open book to him and so are the ever-increasing image banks.
He views his whole creative work merely from a illustrator’s point of view.
The main lines of the project being set, I start to research and try to gather as much information as I can on the creative topic. I then deliver a first rough draft, to the size of the final document. In fact, my production work is about 80-90% finalized before the final result. Then I proceed to the actual design », he explains. His working method has been altered quite a bit since he started using the web on a daily basis.
« With internet, all the successive steps in image creation are accelerating. Besides the great ease that comes from this medium, especially time-wise, I noticed quite an improvement in the images being produced. Interactions through the web network with artistic directors are far more rewarding. Most of all this enables me to retouch visuals, usually within the hour, as if I were in the client’s office, » he explains. This going back and forth via the web with creative directors has become a routine for Laudator. He calls this « creative partnership » and practices it on a regular basis with about fifteen of his artist friends.
Equipped with two Power Computing with a RAM of 500 Mo. each, Laudator can easily open and process images of 200 to 300 Mo. He is reluctant, however, to give up his clone for a G4 -even for a PC- The underlying reason being the 3D. In that area, PC option offers a wider range of software applications. Laudator is still wondering which option to choose.
PORTFOLIO OR PORTAL ?
« With digital tools, there is a sort of immediacy just like with polaroid but even more powerful and richer. Using the web, images can be edited instantly, that were designed a few minutes earlier ». The main drawback, however, could be some kind of a hurry. « One often needs to sit back and give time to the creative process in order to come back to it improved ».
This is one of the reasons why Laudator went on a sabbatical thinking period before deciding to switch to the net. « I wanted to make my debuts on the web in a significant way. I took the necessary time to reflect on the type and content of the images I was going to use. In addition, I was really drawn to Internet. I easily spent over 20 hours just to see what was happening on it ». After having given it extended thoughts, he finally created his site (www.laudator.com) in November 1999.
He is already thinking of the next step to take. Eventhough getting an audience is not a key issue, about 100 browsers are visiting his site daily.
What is driving him mostly is becoming more professional. In fact, he is using his site just like an online portfolio: « Agencies I work with are becoming increasingly familiar with online portfolios. As I do most of my work via the web, I usually send my site’s URL. 80% of the professionals I send my address to get connected in order to check my material », he explains.
Laudator is currently giving his work a wider scope i.e. a portal site on visual art. This represents his latest project put together with some friends (about 30 artists) photographers and other professionals using digital tools. This site is designed to be an open door for everyone interested in digital technology. This site ArtPortail, lists practical tips (professional directories, art schools, upcoming events, exhibits…), some insights on production, site referencing… In short, everything a professional should need and know. To be checked absolutely!
Magazine Création Numérique
Interview Mars 2000 par Thierry Guilbert