Sas himi’s re­venge

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Get an in­sight into Serge’s way of work­ing (when­ever he’s got a spare hour or 80 on his hands) “This is prob­a­bly my most popular pic­ture, but I don’t know why. I worked in a very old school way. I chose my colour pal­ette be­fore I started and did very few changes at the end. My colours are a bit strange – I was in­spired by old clas­si­cal oil paint­ings, es­pe­cially seascapes. All the dark­est tones are pur­ple, all the bright­est ones are cyan and the mid­dles tones are green. The con­trast is un­com­mon too: no black or white.

I spent about 80 hours on this, be­cause of the colours and be­cause I changed my mind a lot, on nearly ev­ery­thing. I re­alise it’s nearly im­pos­si­ble to achieve this kind of re­sult with only ad­just­ment lay­ers, but it takes so much time to paint this way that I choose the easy way most of the time.”

“Then af­ter one year I needed money, so I started teach­ing in a very crappy school in France – we have a lot of very crappy, rough, schools, very cheap, very money-strapped. I tried a few and thought, ‘not for me’. Then free­lance came, and lit­tle by lit­tle…”

all about the tech­niques

Tak­ing a year off from art may seem alien to a lot of read­ers. Serge is hes­i­tant to even call him­self an artist. “I think I don’t want to be one,” he laughs. “I’m more of a crafter. I came from learn­ing to draw re­al­is­tic things, the tra­di­tional air­brush. We’re more about the tech­niques than the fi­nal re­sult. It’s just: do the thing! I don’t care about the fi­nal re­sult, re­ally. I don’t fuck about.”

This spills into ev­ery wak­ing minute. Serge may not be easy with the ti­tle ‘artist’, but he’s con­stantly switched on as one. “When I travel, not for my work, but for hol­i­days, two or three days in I’m like, [clicks fin­gers im­pa­tiently]. In the restau­rant I’m like, ‘Can I draw some­thing now?!’ It’s a curse. When my wife and I go to a pub, I’m think­ing about re­flec­tion, the light on the glass. And she’s think­ing, ‘Oh God, he’s still work­ing’. I can’t un­der­stand when peo­ple say they re­ally like paint­ing. They’re so lucky.”

Though work­ing at games stu­dio Ubisoft Mon­treal, it’s his pin-up art that we think of when we hear the name Serge Bi­rault. Drawing sexy women has a long tra­di­tion, and though some may see the big breasts, the pruri­ent poses, and de­clare, ‘Sex­ism!’, Serge re­ally isn’t fussed.

“I have statis­tics from my Face­book page and nearly half of the ‘ likes’ are by women. When I did a work­shop in Mex­ico, half the au­di­ence were women. I think this is the best com­pli­ment I can have. “I’m not sex­ist, I grew up only with girls. I have two sis­ters. Only my mother was there… I think one of the things is that I never paint vic­tims. I can’t do that. When I draw I try to do strong women. Not the vic­tim. Women are stronger than men.”

July 2015

One of Serge’s old­est images (2009), and still one of the most popular, this is a com­mis­sioned piece, with a

touch of Scar­lett Jo­hans­son. In­spired by Rem­brandt and Aly Fell, Serge em­u­lates a can­dle-lit scene here. This horned beastie is one of the few ‘day job’ pieces of art Serge has shown – a re­jected con­cept for a can­celled game.

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