Pierre-Paul Pariseau is a self-taught freelance artist and illustrator working for a wide range of international clients. He exhibits his personal work regularly. He is based out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Pierre-Paul contacted me via my website and after I took some time to look at his body of work, I knew that I had to interview him. His work has been featured in shows in Canada, the US, and Europe.
Evoking currents of surrealism and pop art, the creative work of Pariseau invites us into a world of images where everything is possible. From his fusion of collage and digital medium; from his visual articulation of thoughts, moods and emotions, emanates dreamlike scenes, strange theatrical dramas while remaining intriguingly accessible. Happy coincidences, anecdotal events inspire the artist in a fantasy that translates into images made of vibrant colours, stunning juxtapositions and hypnotic reveries that are always compelling. His anthropomorphic creations seems to request storytelling but never impose one. Here the creatures are sentient beings , with emotions and personality. They are a metaphor for our behaviour.
1. Did you always want to be an artist?
I always loved art but didn’t really start before I was in my twenties. I did a few clumsy oil paintings then but soon discovered the technique of photo-collages. I was amazed by the surreal imagery that could be created using a few “cutouts” from photos in magazines; I had found my medium. At the beginning, my collages were very simple. I used a pair of scissors and glue for many years. Later on, my photo-collages became more "sophisticated" and I started to exhibit in cafés, cultural centers, and galleries. Not much after I decided to build a portfolio and go see art directors of publications around town. I received an immediate positive answer, it was the beginning of my career as an illustrator and it goes on since.
2. You have an extensive list of international clients. How did you build up that roster?
This is simply something that you build with time. Patience and hard work. Passion.
3. What is your typical day like?
In the morning I first take care of emails and some promotional activities. I go out to have an espresso and read a little bit. I then note important things that I just thought about (apart from my daily agenda) that I should remember doing today and the next days. After dinner, I start working on the commission job I have to do. If necessary I might stop to change my mind doing other things (going to the supermarket, doing house chores, etc…) and stay away from the current job to be able to come back with a fresher point of view on it. Same thing when creating new personal works. After supper, I can continue working late in the night or go out, read, watch a movie, depending on how busy I am with work. It goes on like this during the weekend often.
4. Who or what inspires you?
My big influence at the beginning was the surrealist artists like Dali, Magritte, and others. Everything that was surrealist, in painting but also in literature, in poetry, and in movies. Photomontage pioneers also like John Heartfield, Max Ernst, Jacques Prévert. Rapidly although I became inspired by a lot of things coming my way, in my surroundings, to a point that it is difficult to name anything in particular. I always carry on me a notebook in which I can write (mainly) and draw ideas for new images, for titles of work, etc…
I can also write down notes not necessarily related to my inspiration of the moment but about music I would like to listen to, exhibitions I would like to see, websites I should visit. I write down interesting parts of books I’m currently reading, etc. These notes also feed, indirectly, my inspiration sometimes. I have written a large quantity of these notebooks, sometimes I browse into them to look for an idea, but most of the time I concentrate on what I have written recently.
So everything can inspire me.
5. Do you find it hard to balance your personal work with your client work?
Personal work is as much important as professional work. There are different qualities in both kinds of work. The personal projects are very important because with them you can let yourself go completely in the depths of your imagination, into a loose narrative. You can be as "crazy" as you want, to surprise yourself as you never did before. My personal work does not always have a clear meaning, it allows a wide space for interpretation. I do not like to be too straightforward; I do not want to do things that are spelled out, a little bit of "ambiguity" is always more interesting, it leaves the door open, it stimulates curiosity. But when comes the time to do a commission I can have the ability to produce simple, clear and straightforward images. Being totally free it is more easy to experiment with different techniques (no deadline to respect, you have the time to redo as you want) and to come out of this with interesting discoveries that you can use in commissioned works later, if relevant.
The constraints (subjects, sizes, delays, etc.) brought by the commissioned work can be an important challenge for the spirit. This experience brings the artist into areas of discomfort that could be, at the end, very freeing, exhilarating. Again, you discover part of your imagination that you would probably have not otherwise. These discoveries can be used in your personal work later on. Both kinds of artworks, the personal and the commissioned, are feeding each other.
6. You've been part of exhibitions at home in Canada, but also in the US and internationally. Have you found more artistic success at home or abroad?
I had good successes here and abroad. Perhaps as there are more opportunities in the rest of the vast world I exhibited more abroad.
7. What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?
To last as an artist, to be able to reinvent myself throughout my career.
8. Have there been any disappointments in your artistic career?
I do not remember anything in particular except that there are ups and downs in the quantity of commissions. Which is the standard, I guess, when you are freelancing.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creatives?
Listen, observe, look carefully and be interested in the cultural and social lives of the world around you and beyond. This will enrich your visual vocabulary and allow you to better translate your ideas and emotions. Consider your personal works as important as the commissions and vice versa, because they nourish each other.