Sas himi’s revenge
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.”
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.