Marc Majewski

berlin, germany


1. does earth feel 1
acrylic on canvas

2. does earth feel 2
acrylic on canvas

3. amour
acrylic on canvas

4. moonlight
acrylic on canvas

5. fleurs
acrylic on canvas

6. spring 
acrylic on canvas

INTERVIEW byFriedrich Fetzer

Hey Marc. Thanks for your time. How are you - What’s new?

Marc: I’m good.  Now it´s August and at this time of the year everything is kind of sleeping so I have more time to work on my projects - which is nice.

Let´s start by talking a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you grow up?

Marc: I had the privilege of growing up in nature. I´m from a little  town near Grenoble in France.  It´s a very beautiful place surrounded by mountains and lakes. I stayed there my first 18 years and did my high school and middle school there. Then i moved to Nantes on the West coast of France, where I studied illustration.

When did you first discover painting for yourself?

Marc: I did my very first painting when I was about two years old. My mom gave me a watercolor box and a sheet of paper and I would just do an abstract  color paintings. She said one looked like a rabbit and kept it. That´s where it all started basically. So yeah, from a very young age.

On your website, you describe Gustave Dore, Maurice Sendak, and Quint Buchholz being a great inspiration. Growing up with the books of Maurice Sendak, like „Where the wild things are“, myself, I personally find myself back in this environment in your illustrations. Maybe that’s also why i like your art so much. It takes me back to my childhood memories. In which ways did / or still do, influence these artists your work nowadays?

Gustave Doré was my first big inspiration. My grandma had this big book of fairytales illustrated by him and I would look at the pictures In complete fascination. It wasn't really a book for children, and the stories were quite violent, but wonderful. I remember listening to them and looking at the pictures with a delicious feeling of fear. There is something quite similar in Maurice Sendak's picture books. Something bizarre and a bit creepy, but absolutely enchanting. Tomi Ungerer, Hayao Miyazaki and Paul Grimault also had a big influence on me. It is quite hard to say or understand in which ways their influence has impacted my work. It certainly still does. I love mystery, I love fear. Although my pictures aren't very scary, I am always trying to add a tea spoon of strangeness to them. I like very much the concept of "magic realism" described by the fantastic children's books author and illustrator Kitty Crowther. This suggests that you can find magic everywhere, and this is also how I want to see the world.

Let’s talk about your way of becoming the illustrator and book maker you are today. After getting you degree in literature and arts you moved on and attended the Ecole Pivaut to study illustration and painting. What was the motivation of studying illustration and painting? Because i suppose you drew a lot before also? Do you think it is necessary to study art, to become an artist?

School was fun. I learned the basics to get started and it was exactly whatI wanted to do after high school. It definitely was useful. Regarding the question, do you have to study art to become an artist? I don't think so, but studying is certainly a starting point. Art schools are not going to make you - you. They're just giving you some tools to start, but you have to go on your own and keep learning. There are illustrators I know that have made their way by observing and working on their own. Schools teach you rules to make  pictures and compositions. But you might realise that what you're doing isn't so personal and therefore unlearn what you believed was the best or only way. And this is where the fun starts. Creativity has to be a journey.

Your illustrations are very narratorial. Might this be influenced by your literature studies also?

I think so! Since I was a kid, I loved stories, and always dreamed of making my own books. I was also writing a lot. In high school, I was passionate about poetry. When I started to study illustration, I stopped to write for a while and focused on how to tell a story with the pictures. Later I combined both languages, and I became very interested in the ways pictures and words work together to tell a story. Wordless books are also fascinating and challenging to me. How to tell a story with only pictures ? This is something I am deeply interested in, although these books often are hard to sell or publish.

Any book recommendations?

For wordless books, I would recommand : “Professional Crocodile”(Professional Crocodile, Author: Giovanna Zoboli, Illustrator: Mariachiara Di Giorgio) and "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan. Among my favourite picture books I can recommend: Edward Gorey's books but I especially like "The west wing" and "The doubtful guest","Moon man" by Tomi Ungerer, (all of Tomi Ungerer's books actually), "Du Iz Tak" by Carson Ellis, "The rules of summer" and "The red tree" of  Shaun Tan, ...  

Where do you get the impulses for your work from?

I often say that I'm finding inspiration everywhere. My daily life essentially, the books I read, things I see online, people I meet...

Your first picture book, Un Beau Voyage, was published in September 2016. How did this cooperation come about?

The story of "Un beau voyage" was already written and I was looking for a publisher to buy it. I remember wandering into a bookstore in Strasbourg and being attracted to one particular book. I wrote down the name of the publisher of this book and emailed them few hours later. And they decided to publish my story.I was very happy and excited, although I would like now to redo all the pictures. Because it was my first book, I worked under a lot of self-pressure and I feel like I didn't explore enough the possibilities of illustration and storytelling.

Do you ever „try“ your books with children?

Marc: Not so often unfortunately ! As often as I can, I lead workshops with children in book fairs or schools.

How´s the feedback like?

Marc: Kids take stories very seriously and are full of questions. They are very curious about the making of books, but also the characters and inspirations. They are usually very open to conversations, and I learn a lot from them. I remember this very funny moment where I was signing books at the Children's books fair in Montreuil (Paris). One kid approached me with eyes wide open, impressed by the pile of books that I was signing. He thought I had painted each and all of them and didn't know anything about the printing process, which he found quite disappointing when I explained it to him (laughing).

Lately you’ve mostly been working in small scale paintings on paper, correct? I mean obviously, because you are doing book illustrations. Could you imagine doing bigger paintings in the future on big canvases?

In school I was painting bigger paintings and I enjoyed it a lot. The scale of the illustrations is also significative. Indeed books' illustrations don't require to be very big, but I would be very interested in working on bigger pictures, yes. I also would need a proper space to do so. Since my studio is relatively small, it makes more sense to me to make relatively small paintings.

What are your plans for the near future?

I don´t  really have plans for the future.  I rather think about how much fun I can have every day, creating and painting. Of course, there are a lot of things I want to do, and learn and improve. And this is what life is about: learning and having fun. These are maybe the only plans I can make. I only have one very clear picture in my head: Me working from a big and luminous studio, facing a mountain lake. With a dog.

Thank you for your time.