If you've been reading Birth.Movies.Death. long enough, you know that I'm a giant fan of Nicolas Delort, the insanely-talented artist who produced the amazing Nosferatu print seen at the top of this post (along with about a million other gorgeous screenprints; definitely take a tour of his site if you're unfamiliar with his work). He's simply one of the best guys in the business, and I was thrilled and honored to sit down with him at this past weekend's MondoCon to pester him with a number of silly questions.
Here's how that went.
BMD: How has your MondoCon experience been thus far?
Nicolas Delort: So far, pretty good! This is my first time in Texas, at all--
BMD: Ever? Really?
BMD: Well, where are you from?
Delort: I'm from Paris.
BMD: Oh, you're from Paris. I thought you moved over there from Canada for some reason.
Delort: Well, I moved from Canada, but now I live in Paris.
BMD: Wherein Canada?
Delort: Near Toronto! In the countryside.
BMD: Oh, right on. The wilds of Canada.
Delort: Yeah! Right in the forest.
BMD: Why'd you decide to move to Paris?
Delort: I moved there when I was about 10. My dad got work there, so ... we moved to Paris! I went to middle school and high school in Paris.
BMD: Y'know, I took six years of French, in between middle school and high school. But they were really bad classes, and they rarely made us speak the language. It wasn't until, like, the third or fourth year that they had us speaking it at all.
Delort: They didn't have you speak it for three or four years?
BMD: Yeah, pretty much! It was mostly just worksheets and vocabulary tests and whatnot. Not the best French education, is my point.
BMD: Yeah, well, welcome to America. We're apparently not that concerned about learning other people's languages.
BMD: Anyway, here's something I want to ask you about: it seems like the level of concentration that must go into one of your pieces seems unreal to me. How are you doing this? It seems like it would require a supernatural level of focus.
Delort: Well, I have ADD --
Delort: -- so this is sort of therapeutic to me.
BMD: Gives you something to focus on.
Delort: Yeah! I always have a movie or TV show on in the background. Sometimes my focus will shift and I'll watch that for a couple of minutes, but then I'll come right back and get back to work.
BMD: What do you watch when you work?
Delort: I have, like, a cycle of shows on Netflix that I watch on a loop. I know dialogue by heart.
BMD: Like what?
Delort: Six Feet Under, Parks And Recreation, Arrested Development, Sex And The City, The Office, The X-Files, Friends, OZ...
Delort: I don't think they'd make that show now.
BMD: Yeah, maybe not. How long, from beginning to end, does the average piece take?
Delort: Depends on the size. If it's like a 24x36", it'll be like a 15x22-ish piece. For 18x24" pieces, the boards are 20x16". So that'd take me a couple of weeks. Two or three weeks. But, sometimes if I'm really into it and don't have any other projects going on at the same time, I can do a piece in four or five days, working like ten hours a day.
BMD: What's the longest it's taken you to complete a piece?
Delort: The Superman piece (ed. note: see above) I had to start over four times. I kept having to start over. But on one piece, the longest was probably the Batman Returns I did for Mondo. That one was bigger than what I usually do, and that one took forever. All the stuff in the foreground, and the buildings. It took forever.
BMD: Is there any sort of subject matter that you're less inclined to take on than others?
Delort: Yeah. I don't really do movies I don't like. That's kind of a given, but I don't do --
BMD: Have you been approached to do a print for a movie that you just said, "Nope, can't do it"?
BMD: Like what?
Delort: Well, for Star Wars. I like the movies, but it's not something I'm that interested in. In those circumstances you just say, "I'm not into it."
BMD: I can't imagine you doing a Star Wars piece.
Delort: Yeah, I could probably find something to do with it, but ... eh. Or like the Harry Potter movies: if I did Harry Potter, I'd want to do prints for the books, not the movies. I don't wanna reinterpret the movies. I mean, I'm a big fan of the movies, but I don't want to be forced to draw the world exactly as it appears in the movies.
BMD: I get it. You wanna put your own stamp on it.
Delort: Right. So I try to choose movies I can put my own stamp on, or interpret them my way.
BMD: What drew you to Herzog (ed. note: Delort's working on a series of Herzog prints for Black Dragon Press)?
Delort: Well, James (Park, of Black Dragon Press) approached me about doing Nosferatu, and I love that movie. Love the visuals. I just said yes immediately, it was a great opportunity, lots of stuff to draw inspiration from. And then I just ended up doing this series because ... well, Aguirre was harder than Nosferatu. It's all in the jungle, a single environment. But I still managed to find something to work with for it.
BMD: You just finished a War Of The Worlds print, right?
BMD: Everyone's got their own interpretation of War Of The Worlds. What's yours?
Delort: I think it's about our place in the universe, how we function on this planet. I get the whole imperalism angle (of the H.G. Wells original), but I like the idea that we can be destroyed by something very tiny, as well, or something we didn't plan ahead for, something that could lead to our destruction. The alien invasion was planned forever, but they got taken out by, y'know--
BMD: A cold, basically.
Delort: Yeah! So maybe that's what it's telling us. We can do a lot of planning, but eventually we'll get taken out by something really stupid or small.
Note: Here's a look at Delort working on his War Of The Worlds piece, if you're curious to see how one of these things comes together.
Special thanks to Nic Delort and the good people at MondoCon for helping make this interview happen.
Stay tuned for a bunch more MondoCon coverage as the week rolls on. I'll have a big, wrap-up piece covering both days of the Con (which'll have a whole bunch of pretty artwork for you to gawk at), along with a sprawling interview with Mondo's creative team, including Justin Brookhart and Jay Shaw. Good stuff en route, folks! Get excited!