PASCAL BLANCHÉ
ImagineFX|October 2020
Beren Neale speaks to the artist with a colourful career in games, and an even more colourful body of work
Beren Neale

Over the years of working on ImagineFX, it’s exciting when you discover an artist who you can identify by their style alone – whether that’s the ultra-detailed fantasy portraits of Dave Rapoza, the gleaming surfaces in Serge Birault’s pin-up art, or the Old Master depth and weight of Craig Mullins. Pascal Blanche, with his distinct, colour-rich sci-fi scenes that seem to sit in their very own dimension, is one of those artists. His use of 3D modelling, his otherworld subject matter, and of course that striking use of colour, makes you feel that any piece that he posts online could only have been made by him.

CLASSIC SCI-FI ART

Of course, for the French-born artist who now resides in the digital art hub that is Montreal, Canada, he’d tell you he’s simply paying homage to a distant age of classic sci-fi art and its practitioners, and that initially, colour was the furthest thing from his mind.

“First, I was a real crappy painter,” he says. “I mean oils and acrylics… I never managed to understand how to deal with them, so it took me a long time to even think about colour in my work.” So where did all these reds and yellows, oranges and greens come from? “I guess I first observed it in artists like Frazetta, Otomo, Druillet, Moebius, Bisley… they all share the same colouring technics in a way: lots of contrasted colours and also very brightly coloured shadows.”

Soon his eye started to crave those colours. “Cam Kennedy too, in his Boba Fett comics, had those colourful shadows,” continues Pascal. “Same thing in the bright posters of Drew Struzan from the 80s movies.” That may all be true, but that copyright quality of Pascal’s work remains.

FLIPPING BURGERS, GIFTING ART

Pascal entered art school in Marseille, France, in 1989 when he was 17. There he learned drawing, painting, geometry, photography, sculpture and art history, “but it was on the side that I started to enjoy working on my Amiga 500, on Deluxe Paint and the first 3D software like Caligari’s TrueSpace, or Real 3D,” he reveals. “The course was five years, but I started to work after the fourth year.”

What was his first paid job? “It was in the fast-food industry,” he jokes, suddenly finding truth in his jest. “More than learning how to flip burgers, it really made me realise I wanted to do something out of my art passion for a living,” he says. “It also focused me to think about working in art more as a professional industry than trying to sell paintings for a living.” This led Pascal to get a job at Tilt magazine, the first French monthly video game magazine, which discontinued in 1994. “I managed to find summer work there as an assistant, basically helping out the photographers take screenshots for their reports. Then I started to draw caricatures of the reporters working on the floor, and left them on their desks! Soon I was drawing little comic strips.”

This cheeky art gifting paid off when, after a year, one of the full-time artists at Tilt became sick and the editor asked Pascal to step in and do a double-page illustration for them in Photoshop. “I said, ‘sure’, having never used a Mac let alone Photoshop,” he recalls. “But I got the job done… lesson: never say no to an opportunity, and figure the rest out afterwards.”

CALLING THE SHOTS

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