For the special release of our first ever Titanium collection, we teamed up with the very talented French illustrator Félix Decombat to create a short but sweet graphic novel about what makes Japanese Titanium so great.
Words by Isabel van Zeller
The result is The Girl with Titanium Glasses: a small series of short stories in which a badass lady gains superpowers when putting on her Titanium glasses and uses them to get out of annoying situations. In each of the stories, we highlight three main features of Titanium: Strength, Lightness and Longevity.
But enough about us and the collection (make sure to see it though). Let’s turn to the guy behind the drawings: Félix. If you didn’t know him by name, you might recognise his incredible comic-book style, many times wonderfully bizarre, imagery from publications such as It’s Nice That, Paper Magazine, The New York Times and the gone but not forgotten foodie printed magazine Lucky Peach (RIP).
How it all started
Félix has always been into drawing, “As a kid, I learnt a lot from my father – he taught art.” But he spent most of his childhood reading comics, not drawing them. By doing so, Félix was learning, and all this careful studying worked out – even though drawing in school was heavily frowned on, “When I was young, drawing was poorly looked upon by everybody, even by art teachers. It was considered a job with no future.”
Like all of us, he had a favourite cartoon growing up: “I was fascinated by Dragon Ball by (Akira) Toriyama.” Although, he confesses he never actually owned one single book from the series, but that’s what made it all the more captivating and what actually fuelled his imagination. “I read parts of stories from friends’ books or in magazines, but I never actually finished them” – this triggered him, then, to make up his own endings.
This wasn’t just a phase. His artistic sensibility led him to La Cambre in Brussels, where he studied Graphic Design, followed by L’École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg, where he spent five years studying Illustration.
Inspirations and influences
Félix names a big list of influences, “I mostly get inspiration from movies. Especially by filmmakers such as David Cronenberg, Takashi Miike and Paul Verhoeven. I’m also into artists such as Gary Panter, François Schuiten, Christopher Forgues, Roland Topor, Italo Calvino and Philip K. Dick.”
It’s in the movies he watches, as well as from the magazines that he reads, where he finds ideas for his characters. “I made a list of potential characters for future comics or illustrations. But I don’t force the resemblance – I just use them as a base for the sketches. The character I drew for Ace & Tate is actually based on Salma Hayek” – and we can totally see it.
For those of you interested in the technical side of things, Félix explains his work method: “I usually do one or two quick sketches to place the elements and organise the composition. I ink directly on my initial sketches using marker. Then I work in the colour using airbrush and drawing gum as a stencil. But this often varies, I don’t like to keep using the same tool or method for too long.”
Most of the work he’s done has been commissioned by magazines, “They might ask me to illustrate humorous situations or dark subjects, such as depression and suicide, which I did recently. It’s always interesting to find ways to treat the subject creatively, and to share your own point of view with an audience.”
Moving forward, in this fast-moving world we’re living in, Félix wants to do more with his drawings. “I’m working on a concept for a video game that I’d like to develop. And I’d also like to animate my drawings in the near future!”
We admire illustrators for allowing us to momentarily escape our, at times, mundane lives, for inviting us to see situations in a different light and for helping us understand issues we might otherwise not grasp. And by doing so, they help make the world a better place. Creativity will save us all!
Thank you, Félix, for helping us make some metal called titanium exciting, and for making our new frames come alive.
If you’re curious, see the full Titanium collection here.