Illustrator Johan Keslassy: ‘I just keep drawing and let my style evolve naturally’

Johan Keslassy is a self-taught illustrator living in France. After taking part in our 100 Days. 100 Commissions campaign earlier in the year he talks us through his creative process, greatest achievements so far and goals for the future.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Johan Keslassy, and I am a self-taught freelance illustrator living in France. I grew up in a creative fueled atmosphere—I lived in a house where the walls were covered with my mother’s paintings and spent much of my childhood engrossed in watching cartoons on TV. My favourites were Looney Tunes and Tom And Jerry (the old ones, those made in the 1940’s and 50’s), I wouldn’t have missed them for anything. My love for cartoons all these years later is still very much alive as an adult too.

What made you want to start a career in illustration?

Like all children, I started drawing as soon as I was able to hold a pen. I never stopped drawing, mainly pencil doodles on sketchbooks, but at some point, I started sending my illustrations to one of those online contests where the winning designs get printed on clothing. I kept sending my work for a couple of years and eventually, one of my illustrations was picked and got printed on a GAP Kids T-shirt. That was the first time someone paid me to do a drawing and it made me realise that it may be possible to make money in illustration.

How would you define your style?

This is a tough question. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really have a style, or that my style lacks consistency. I think vector graphics can look a bit cold sometimes, so I’ve been adding some more texture and grain to my illustrations lately and that’s definitely a direction I would like to continue to explore. Anyway, whatever my style is, I try not to think too much about it and just keep drawing and let my style evolve naturally.

Can you tell us about your 100 Days. 100 Commissions piece “Staying at Home”?

“Staying at Home” is a remake of an illustration I did about two years ago. The inspiration came from a photo of a young woman seated on a chair and holding a bird. I think I was also looking for an excuse to draw another home interior.

When I heard about 100 Days. 100 Commissions, I decided I wanted to participate and started looking for something worth submitting. I came across that old illustration of a girl and her cats—I wasn’t completely satisfied with it but I felt it had potential so I changed the furniture in the background, modified the colours and lighting, added some details to the floor and gave the young lady a new face. It took me about a week of work but it was worth it!

‘Stay at home’ by Johan Keslassy. Part of our 100 days. 100 commissions. campaign What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Draw every day.

Talk us through your work process.

Judging by the time I spend staring at my laptop screen or daydreaming, it must be part of the work process, but that aside, I usually start an illustration by doing rough pencil sketches. Once I have found a composition I am

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