Firing Rounds with Michel Gagné
Q: The theme of creation is something that's prevalent in your works. You've also talked about how you research and develop your own theories on the subject. At its base, what is it about the idea of creation that interests you?
You're right, I’m pretty obsessed with that. How did it all begin? That’s a question that has always fascinated me – and at the same time it really drives me bonkers. It’s like my compulsive obsessive mind is trying to figure it out but at the same time I realize that it’s a totally hopeless task. So I process my frustration/obsession through my art. The more stuff I do, the more I see that theme and all its component constantly repeating themselves – birth, rebirth, cycles, infinitely small and infinitely big, big bangs, primordial worlds, molecules, atoms etc. Creation is the ultimate archetype.
Let me also add that as a very compulsive person, I channel my compulsiveness in creating art. So in fact, my obsession is not only with creation as a theme but also as an act.
Q: Flight has definitely created a sense of community among the creators involved; previous to this, you've had a similar experience with the making of Prelude to Eden. What is it about creativity that potentially makes it a motivator for a 'community' experience?
Well, for me the Flight experience is different than most of the other projects I’ve worked on. My short film "Prelude to Eden" which you cited, involved other people but the overall project was my brainchild - my baby. I labored over every frame and whoever was involved had to conform to my vision. Flight could be compared to a group show of some sort where selected artists are invited to create within an environment. Instead of wall space, were given pages. Instead of paintings or sculptures, we illustrate our vision in sequential form. What’s cool about Flight is that each artist is able to create a very personal and unique vision without having to fit within specific boundaries. So despite the community aspect, the individualism is respected and encouraged.
What I’ve enjoyed with "Flight" is being able to go to the “secret” website and see the book being built piece by piece. We all comment on each other’s stories and it’s really motivating. Everyone involved is so talented. It’s really an honor to be associated with such a talented bunch.
Q: You've been very open to exploring different mediums, from animation to painting, sculpture, illustration. Would you say the transitions were a natural, logical progression for you?
Yeah, if it’s not a natural progression, then it’s forced and that doesn’t work. I really try to follow my inspiration to where it leads me; be it animation, paintings, comics etc. I’ll see a movie, an art show, listen to a piece of music and it will send me in a totally new direction. I make an effort to stay open to all the possibilities. There are a lot of artists who stick to one thing, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s certainly not me. I like “not knowing” what’s next. I put faith in my destiny and somehow the right projects always seem to present themselves at the right moment. I want to keep looking at life and art as a field of pure potentiality. With every new experience, come new discoveries.
Q: There's definitely a 'magical' element to the things you create, and even in the 'more grotesque' stuff there's definitely an elegance to the quality of your work. Visually and conceptually, where do the raw inspirations for your creations come from?
It comes from everywhere. My experiences, the stuff I read, the movies I watch, the music I listen to, etc. Having said that, there's also a lot of brainstorming and trial and error involved. Sometimes, I'll go through dozens of sketches before finding the right character or environment. It's an ongoing process of data input, re-interpreting through my mind's filter, and finding that particular interpretation that sings to me.
Q: In the sensibilities behind your creative pursuits and approaches, there seems to be an emphasis on speed of output. What is it about a creative concept that demands it to be captured so quickly?
The way it works for me is pretty simple. If I’m inspired to do a certain project, the work will progress quickly. It’s like I’m able to capture the impulse and materialize it. If I’m not inspired, there’s no impulse to be captured. I might spend a week on an illustration and in the end, it’ll look like crap. So in a way, my best work is usually done the quickest.
Q: You've been quite prolific in regards to your self-published work. What are the dynamics to your approaches that allows you to maintain such a high output of creator-owned work while at the same time doing contracted work?
Essentially, for the past 10 years or so, I’ve tried to only worked on projects that inspire me. I dedicate a massive portion of my time on personal work and the freelance I take on is usually a welcome break as well as a way for me to recharge my batteries.
Q: Tell us more about some of your self-published works.
My self-published work could be divided into three categories:
Storybooks: In these, I explore personal philosophies and ideas, while adopting a children’s book narrative format. For those who would like to sample this work, my book Parables: An Anthology compiles my first four storybooks.
Conceptual Artbooks: Here is where I’ll give myself a specific theme and will try to be as creative as I can within that confine. So far, this series includes "Frenzied Fauna: From A to Z", "Freaky Flora: From A to Z", "Insanely Twisted Rabbits" and "Odd Numbers", and as you can see from their titles, they're pretty self-explanatory.
Comics: Here’s where I slowly craft my big cosmic epic ZED. It’s been a slow process (6 issues in 5 years) but a fun one. I’m planning to wrap the current series at issue 12. Hopefully, it won’t take me another 5 years to do so. Those who would like to sample ZED can pick up the TPB (ZED Volume One) which compiles the first four issues.
You can check out my self-published book library at http://www.gagneint.com/Final%20site/books/books.html
Q: What's coming from you in Flight 3?
When Kazu approached me to be part of Flight at Wizard 2004 in Long Beach, California, I immediately knew what project I’d be doing. I’d wanted to do a 150-page graphic novel with my little fox character, REX (introduced in my first storybook , "A Search for Meaning: The Story of Rex"), for quite a while. Although the desire to do it was pretty intense, I needed an extra push to get it going. Flight offered me a perfect vehicle to serialize my story. “Inner Sanctum” from "Flight 2" was the first chapter. The 27-page story I created for "Flight 3" is called “Underworld” and picks up exactly where “Inner Sanctum” left off.
Q: ...anything else coming up in the future?
Last November (2004), I flew to Los Angeles and pitched a series of shorts animated pieces called “Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets” to the big networks. The idea was pretty crazy but I was hoping that someone would be brave enough to give me financing. To my delight, 6 months later, I had a signed deal with MTV Network. The series of interstitials will be featured on Nickelodeon’s “Halloween Shriekin Weekend” between October 15th and 31st. They will also be available for viewing on-line at www.insanelytwisted.com on November 1st – mark your calendar.
Other projects I’m currently working on include a trading
card game, more books, ZED#7 and a few upcoming gallery group shows.
plenty to keep me busy for quite a while.