There is a big chance that you’ve seen the work of the French Engraver/Comic Artist/ Stamp Designer Paul Puvilland, who has been responsible for a lot of stampdesigns over the years.
We have contacted Paul to ask him some questions about stampdesign.
Could you tell us a little something about yourself?
-I am a French 42 years old artist (although I do not like the term “artist”, too many people call themselves like that, and they are not!).
I have worked in many artistic domains, such as cover design, video game art, paintings, etc. Now, I am fully devoted to stamp design, and comic books.
When did you begin with designing stamps?
In fact, even if there is no direct connection with my own work, my father was himself one of the best stamp designers of his time. I never wanted to (or thought of doing) stamp art, but, accidentaly, we’ve been in contact with Mister Algirdas Satas. He proposed me to work on some thematics, so I began, and close to ten years after, I’m still here!
What was your first stamp design?
There are so many stamps I have done for so many years that I don’t really remember, but probably some Formula One.
To what extent are you free to design your own stamps? (What concessions or conditions must you meet?)
In fact, the art of doing stamps at my level is a compromise of both things, artistic and strict rules.
To be clear, I have to deal with very different subjects, which have to be perfectly understandable, even before we go into any illustration. We have to be focused on the subjects which are requested, and we also have to think of the collectors. What could they want, what would they like to see, what did they see already etc.
After that, I am free to make a painting, an illustration, like I want, but of course, it always has to be coherent with the subject.
What is the general procedure before a stamp design is approved?
We are asked by countries to do the work.
After that, we discuss the process of the work (main focus; style; size and layouts etc.).
This is a pretty important step, because it defines all the work we will have to do on the designs. After that, I do the designs, one by one to be approved by everyone involved in the process, and after that, the designs (copies of it) are finally sent to the countries to be approved.
Did you ever get a stamp disapproved?
Well, I am sorry, but never, haha!
When designing a stamp, what materials and techniques do you use?
I use all the techniques that I apply regularly, for example, to make posters or pictures that I do for other jobs. It’s really based on the topics, and also the time that we have to work on them. For instance, it can be pencil, computer art, traditional painting… There are so many ways to do this, the main thing is to be consistent with the subjects that you paint.
Where do you get inspiration when designing a stamp?
It comes from many and very various worlds in my mind.
You can have basical inspirations coming from everywhere, but principally, I like to do research on the subject myself. After that I let my mind go to find some structural ideas which will come for the final design. I remember when I did a series of stamps about the Bible, of the wonderful illustrations of Gustave Doré on the same subject. I wanted to do something very fine and classical for this command. I looked at the Doré stuff, to be inspired by it, take some distance, and after that I found some great ideas.
Has you father influenced your work as an artist?
Subconsciously and consciously. It is hard for me to say in which ways, and in what extend, but probably yes. In my childhood he gave me the possibility to see a master illustrator at work. And of course, this is the best school of art you can have everyday!
How does your work as a comics artist influence your work as a stamp designer?
I think it works both ways. There is no real frontier, it’s just an exchange of expertise, trying to take the best of both. Working for comics and stamps is obviously not the same work, but there are constraints that we must respect in both universes. There are some rules. I happened to work on some portraits for stamps in a similar style of comics to create a spontaneous line drawing.
Which is your personal favorite stamp design?
Probably the next one I will do!
Are you currently working on a stamp design?
Yes, I have a lot of work in progress right now, we essentially work on the big events of the year, such as anniversaries, sports events, etc. For me, this is very exciting because there is always something new to illustrate.
What do you hope the future brings for you as an artist?
The possibilities given by the digital media are a great chance for artists today. We can basically do what we did with in the past, with no inconvenience. I like both mediums, regular and digital. Most of the time, I mix both to have new rendering. Today, the possibilities to access to lots of different mediums, such as digital painting, digital camera, digital music also tells a lot about our days. It means we can do whatever we want, for less money, so the talent and the imagination are the real limits.
It helps to discover new art territories, and also to reinvent yourself.
Who would you still like to portray on a stamp?
I’m always depicting (or trying to depict!) people with real expressions, real emotions. For me, there is no difference when I draw between a regular person, and, for example, Gandhi, who I’ve done a few times. Except the fact that you have a big empathy for famous people, which, for sure, makes it easier to paint a personality, especially when you like this personality. But on the other hand for instance, I like to draw old people: years reveal the life on the face of a person.
What I don’t like to paint? The exact opposite, which is a baby.
Speaking in general, are there artists you would like to work with?
There are lots of people in this business, in art, globally, with whom I’d like to work. Unfortunately, one of my “teachers-of-inspiration” died a few years ago, Frank Frazetta.
More than bringing the heroic fantasy world to the knowledge of the public, he also had a real impact on many generations of artists and designers. His sense of staging, his knowledge of the body, male or female, is just absolutely extraordinary.
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