SWIDE DOLCE & GABBANA - August 2014 - Interview by Markus Kahn

When it comes to Marc-Antoine Coulon’s beautiful illustration works, I just cannot find the right words to describe them. His illustration style reminds me of the art works I see in the old fashion magazines, but with a modern twist. They are elegant, and full of emotions. This week, I very happy to let you know more about this talented artist!

Hi Marc-Antoine, it’s great to have you on Swide this week. So I really have to ask, are you a self taught illustrator? If so, how did you develop this skill?

Yes I am a self taught illustrator. It’s a family skill. My grandfather was a painter, so was his mother. For my generation, my twin brother also paints.

I have been drawing since I was a kid. I have been drawing the same faces obsessively for years. I discovered René Gruau when I was 4, and then pretentiously decided I would become the new Gruau. Frustration is a powerful way to improve one’s style. As a teenage I used to draw records I couldn’t buy, or photos I wished I had. I soon worked for the music and movie industry. But I actually felt free when I started doing fashion images.

René Gruau would be happy to know he had influenced you if he was still alive. How do you describe your illustration style? What kind of things do you want people to focus when looking at your works?

I think my style is fluid. I work with inks – I need it to be slip on the paper, to be very liquid. I also like it to seem partially unfinished. I like the viewer to take part of it, to make up his own story based upon my suggestions. I remember when I was a kid, I fantasized a lot about song titles advertised on back covers. When I eventually was able to hear them, I always felt disappointed, for they never met my expectations. It’s like eroticism  – your imagination is always stronger than what is plainly shown to you. That’s why I want the viewer to fill in the blanks. I try and catch people’s attention on details (eye, mouth, hair…) then let them wander in my picture. It’s a mutual gift – the picture becomes theirs.

I actually have the same way of thinking regarding the song titles. My imagination seems to be far different that what reality is. Since you are inspired by René Gruau, have people ever told you that your works remind them of him? If so, are you flattered by these kind of comments?

Of course I am flattered! The first time I was told so was when I had my first review in a magazine for a record cover. I admire Gruau so much. Yet I hope I have my proper style. It wouldn’t be very interesting for me to try and do what he already did best. But I can’t deny the connection.

I can see that your style is still evolving and am excited to see what kind of art works you will create in the next year or so. If you could meet a famous artist, dead or alive, who would you want to meet and what kind of questions would you want to ask him/her?

I would love to meet the italian singer Mina in the 1964 period. I would ask her – marry me!

Next time, you will have to tell me more about Mina and I am very curious to know why you wanted to marry her. I read in your biography that you cannot draw faceless models, so which facial feature is the most important to you? Why?

Eyes, with or without make up! You can tell so much about a woman’s personality just by drawing her eyes. You can imagine her perfume, her voice, and her feelings.

I love to see women checking their make up in a mirror, it’s fascinating! So much womanhood, femininity in that stare, those actions…

When I take photos of people, I always like to concentrate on their eyes as well. I think this facial feature is just magical! I know you like music, do you mind to tell me what kind of music do you like? How does this genre influence your works?

I mostly listen to Italian music. I am a bit Italian, from the northern Italy. I always try to imagine what line of an Italian song can be used as a subtitle for my drawing. My emotions are mostly Italian, so are most of my dreams. I always wish I lived in a cinecitta black and white movie from the sixties!

Now here is the continuation of the previous question. Aside from drawing, what else does music influence in your life?

I listen to music nearly all day long. That’s where I find my inspirations. Singers were my first loves, and I worked for most of my favourite singers. Music brings harmony in one’s life. It also gives you the illusion that you are living in a movie, with a good soundtrack. I have always tried to make my life something cheerier and bigger. I can’t go to sleep if I have the impression that the day has not given me my share of daily emotions. Music helps me in that respect.

That’s a very interesting thought because I always need my daily dose of music to keep me in motion as well. Last but not least, what was the inspiration of this Dolce & Gabbana S/S 2014 illustration for Swide?

My main inspiration for Dolce e Gabbana is the stunning beauty of Marpessa Hennink. I am fascinated by her Italian renaissance style, like a gorgeous statue of virgin Mary. I also imagined scenes inspired from movies like un tranquilo posto di campagna, or le streghe, or l’eclisse. I think a woman wearing Dolce e Gabbana must feel powerful and teasing. She knows men are following her, yet she pretends she doesn’t notice. These men make her smile – a slight, discreet smile. She is aware her man is jealous, and loves the idea that he could have good reasons to be so. She could be kissed in a church, but would respond to it by looking on the other side, though she likes it.