Leading Edge

LEADING EDGE- How long have you had the dream of being an artist?
CHRISTOPHE VACHER- I was giving a try at my drawing skills before I knew how to write.
At first, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I started to give it a shot and was even offered to make a full book with Caza, one of the oldest comic book artists from France who started the magazine "Heavy Metal" in the 70's with Moebius and other artists.
But things changed: I wanted to try painting, and animation too. So, when opportunities came in that direction, I took them and finally left France to the US in 1996.
LE- Where do you get your inspiration, what influences you?
CV- Inspiration for a subject comes very often with music (from Loreena Mc Kennitt and Enya, to Dead can Dance and Metallica, or De Bussy and Satie. Lots of movie soundtracks too). While listening, there is some kind of "click" at some point, an idea or vision that develops, and I have to draw a quick sketch not to lose it. Later, I will refine this sketch and make it a finished painting. Sometimes, inspiration comes just by noticing an interesting combination of shapes or colors, most of the times in a context that will have nothing to do with the future painting. Travel is also a rich source of inspiration.

LE- How long did you worked for Disney, was it a good experience?
CV- I worked for them for 9 years, and overall, I think it was a great experience. I met many talented artists there who forced me to completely rethink my way of painting and taught me a lot of what I know now.
The corporate world is what it is. It's the same everywhere, whether you go to Disney or any other company. So, you just have to deal with it. But if you can be OK with that aspect of things, and look at the brighter aspect, you'll see that there are a lot of positive and irreplaceable experiences you will get from it.

LE- What kind of art did you work on during your time at Disney?
CV- I worked as a background painter and a concept artist on "A Goofy Movie", "Runaway Brain", "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame", "Hercules", "Dinosaur", "Fantasia 2000", "Tarzan" and "Treasure Planet".

LE- What kinds of side projects do you like to work on?
CV- My own paintings for galleries and publishing, doing book, cd or videogame covers, doing concept artwork for smaller movies or projects, and lately, learning 3D computer generated imagery.

LE- How do you prepare yourself before starting your next piece or art?
CV- There is no preparation, really. I generally pick one of the sketches that I had put aside, and start thinking of it, doing other things. I let it "sink in", and develop itself into a clearer final image. Then I start working, refining the whole process again and again.

LE- If you could pick a favorite piece of art you have done, which one would it be and why?
CV- I don't really have a favorite, but pieces like "Endless Dream", "Mistress of the Winds", "Spirit Rising", or even "Stormbreakers" or "The Guardians" are paintings I still like to look at. I like what they express and I'm happy with the result when I compare it to the original idea.

LE- What do you like to do as Christophe the Person and not Christophe the Artist?
CV- My second passion after Art and Movies is Martial Arts (I've been doing it for 20 years and tried a lot of what you can find out there). I have two black belts in Hapkido and Japanese Karate.
I also like swing dancing (I'll give a try at Salsa soon), outdoor activities, horseback riding.

LE- Where do you see yourself in ten or twenty years?
CV- Well, hard to say. Hopefully with the right girl and a family, maybe in the US, maybe somewhere else. The door is open to anything.

LE- What advice can you give to artists trying to make their way in the market?
CV- Persistence! History is full of ignored geniuses - because they didn't have focus and persistence.
This generation has a lot of information tools (like internet) that I didn't have when I was in my late teens. Use them! Get interested in everything around you, learn, find your way, and be persistent!