We’ve been fans of up-and-coming artist Alexandre Tuis for a while, so we jumped at the chance to speak with him about his work and share exclusive concept art from his latest project, the live-action manga adaptation Blood: The Last Vampire, which is currently in UK theaters and debuts stateside July 10. Tuis also graciously shared additional original art from his personal collection of pop culture-based work (including his rendering of Doug Jones as Frankenstein, created in honor of Guillermo del Toro‘s potential film adaptation) and concept art from films such as Dragonball: Evolution and Xavier Gens‘ horror film, Frontiere(s). We spoke with the France-based Tuis via email about his art, his influences, and his career aspirations; see more of his work on display at his official website. (Click on images below for high-res versions and additional exclusive art work.)
You’ve worked extensively in genre, fantasy and horror films. What attracts you to these types of images?
Alexandre Tuis: It is a good question.
There is a step, when you are an artist, where you have to decide what you really want to create. What you are made for or what you can do or want to share with the audience.
I think for me it was a question of taste. And inspiration.
I encounter no difficulties to create fantasy or horror things. It is like a part of me. I really do appreciate these worlds. I feel like I am in my element.
It is not because I have bad ideas in mind or feel terrified by things, or to cure any phobia. It is only because I love these creatures and strange characters. I love these monsters. And it has been like this since my childhood.
I began with a creature like Mickey Mouse; it became later a dinosaur, and later an evil dark Barbarian, and now monster and fleshy weirdo things.
How would you describe your visual style as an artist? Do you prefer hand-drawn illustration to designing on a computer, and why?
AS: Today it is 50/50. But for many years I only drew with pencils… I love doing sketches, I sketch things each day of my life. I have hundreds of sketches everywhere. I usually create the idea on paper.
Now I would love to have time to do oil paintings, but computer is so easy to use.
Nothing has to be prepared, no water or dissolvent to use. It is fast to delete or move things.
Usually I create on small standard A4 paper with a criterium. And after I scan this sketch I move things and paint it in Photoshop.
Sometimes I directly paint the entire piece from beginning to the end with computer.
Why do you tend to draw monsters, and how do you put a fresh spin on creatures that have already existed in many forms in pop culture, like Frankenstein or vampires?
AS: It is the most interesting and hardest thing of this part of my “work.”
I always ask myself (and not only when people order me to do stuff for their productions), how can I make it more interesting, more original and unique?
It is always the question. Doing something personal.
So I am trying to enhance each piece. I am working hard on each part. I am trying to do not make references to other artists. And I also try to do not repeat me too much.
Of course there are some themes, some shapes you will recognize in my work. But I am trying to do not make the same character twice.
Did you always draw and paint as a child? How did you break into the film industry?
AS: Yes, I think I have never stopped to draw since I have had enough dexterity to draw lines with a colour pencil.
It is a part of me. And in the same time I do need to see new pictures, new art. If I do not create it, I have to see it from other people. I really need my dose of creative things. A movie, paintings or sculptures.
Something visual and original.
To answer to your second question, I recently broke into the film industry by internet. The
internet helped me a lot, it is a good way to contact people. It is fast and you can find a lot of people [who would have been] so hard to find twenty years ago.
So I sent tons of e-mails to visual effect producers, Fx and make up guys, movie producers, directors, etc…
It is really work to promote yourself, but you have to do it, or have an agent to do this.
It is essential; you will rarely have people who will reach you because they find your website by chance.
For your concept art for Blood: The Last Vampire, how did you approach creating designs for the creatures? Did you use the mangas or previous animated film as a visual reference?
AS: I have too used the manga reference for the first steps.
I drew a few versions directly inspired by panels from the animated short film.
But I have for note to change it and doing something which reminds the original movie and in the same time, being completely original.
It was a good way to explore different tracks.
Your Frankenstein design based on Doug Jones’s image is a favourite among fans who want to see the film made from your concept art. Jones himself cited your Frankenstein concept (pictured below) as the vision he would like to embody with del Toro at the helm. How did you decide to use him in the art?
AS: I have been a fan of Guillermo Del Toro for a lot of years, and I am more than ever a fan of his work since he did Pan’s Labyrinth!
So I have been an active writer on Deltorofilms.com, his official board forum.
When one day he said that he would dream of creating his Frankenstein version, I did not hesitate any seconds, and I drew a version of the creature with Doug Jones under the make up.
Why him? Certainly because he is very elegant, moves very well, he is tall and has beautiful hands. Because he is perfect for this and has this feeling of how to mime emotion only with his body and little gesture. And he has something in the eyes…
Have you had any talks to work with Guillermo to work on the Frankenstein film?
AS: No, unfortunately. I think it is a secret for now.
I remember I received one day an e-mail from GDT, within he told me… to wait to have a contract to produce it and be sure to have it on screen, to share it with an audience.
So I will not make more Frankie things and wait to have news from him.
I met Doug Jones in Paris and we talked about this. Even for him it is a very secret project…You know, Guillermo has so many things to do, so much dreams that he can not manage them in the same time. I know things have been down but I can not say anything.
Who are some of the filmmakers and artists you most admire?
AS: I really do appreciate a large panel of directors, from independent movies to big budgets, and not only renowned for fantasy/ horror movies…
I will not classify them but I could name Takeshi Kitano, Guillermo Del Toro, Hayao Miyazaki, Hal Hartley, Jane Campion, Christopher Nolan, Roland Emmerich, Akira Kurosawa, McG, Jaume Balaguero, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Brian de Palma…
I also have to say that I do appreciate all these TV directors. These guys behind Dexter, Fringe, Dead Like Me, Lost or Heroes. They really do good work every day!
For the artists: Frank Frazetta, William Bouguereau, Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, Steve Wang, Alex Ross, Katsuhiro Otomo, Miles Teves, Yoshitaka Amano, Brom, The Shiflett Brothers, John Howe, Dan Brereton, Eric Powell…
A large panel between comics and manga Artists, fx guys and sculptors, classical painters…
In your “Personal Concepts” section on your website, you have a number of paintings based on iconic science fiction and horror films (Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger, Star Wars, Dark Water, Heroes, Phantom of the Paradise, and more). Do you often paint or draw art based on film and television for fun? Are prints of these paintings available for sale?
AS: Everything is available for sale! Yes, I often do it for fun. A part of them have been made for contests, to illustrate articles or commissioned by fans.
But I am a nerd myself, I am a fan of a lot of things and I always enjoy doing these pieces.
If you want to order something from a movie, please make contact. But [don’t ask] me to do all the Star Wars cantina or a podracer thing!
As you continue to do more art work for films, what are your goals in terms of working in Hollywood?
AS: I hope to work longer on other movies, being more immerged in a world, with very different directors.
I really dream of a movie with hundred of creatures to design. You know, something like Jim Henson did with Dark Crystal. But I do not think about a puppet version, I really think about a realistic world… Something big!
l wish I could have time to do more 3D things and create a few sculptures, but it takes a lot of time.
I hope to work with Guillermo of course, but also on a Spanish project I have had in mind for two years. I hope something will move.
It is a strange world…You are one day aware of a project and six months after, the movie is achieved. And sometimes you have to wait five or 10 years to see something realised. You must have good nerves.
And to keep the level up!
I am trying to evolve, to do better art each time. This is how I live.
Thanks for this interview, I hope your readers will enjoy.
For much, much, more of Alexandre Tuis’ personal art and film work, visit his website! For our exclusive gallery of Tuis’ art, including images from Blood: The Last Vampire, Dragonball, and Frontiere(s), and his drawings of the Silver Surfer, Alien, Freddy Krueger (as Smallville actor Michael Rosenbaum, once rumored for the rebooted role), click here.