A Conversation with Denis Carrier
Denis Carrier is a French illustrator and cyclist. Since the beginning of this year, his work has led him down a new path, bringing fun and adventure into his animations and design. We had a chat with Denis to find out where he finds inspiration and to learn what moves both him and the work he creates.
Hello! Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Denis Carrier, I’m 36 and I live in Grenoble in France, at the foot of the Alps.I do my best to be a good husband and a funny father for our two-year-old daughter. I make illustrations for a living under the name Studiofolk (studiofolk.com) and some bike drawings for fun on Instagram @l__ermitage. Tell us a little about your background.
How did this all start?
I studied graphic design fifteen years ago and decided to work as freelancer just after graduating. I always tried to work with people I like, so I began to design a lot of flyers, posters and cd covers for local bands. After seven yearsof graphic design jobs, I turned my practice towards illustration, and I startedto look for commissions from newspapers and magazines around the world. I was always pretty lucky to find amazing art directors who trusted me. And today I'm proud to have worked with some great clients, such as The New York Times Magazine, The Financial Times and Wired Magazine.
Six years ago, I was working way too much and was a little bit lost in my life. I needed to find a way to reconnect with myself and with nature—and riding a bike alone in the mountains turned out to be the perfect answer. I live in a place where you can leave the city in fifteen minutes and be alone in the forest or lost in the mountains. This is really amazing when you need to havea break and think. In the beginning, riding my bike was a kind of therapy for me. Now it is much more...more fun and more friends.
How has cycling influenced the direction of your work?
In the best way! The more I ride, the more I want to work, honestly. When you ride, you can’t lie, and you learn a lot about yourself. When you are a freelancer, you always have a ton of doubts. Cycling helps me to be less afraid of those doubts and just go ahead. And cycling is also so fun, and I want to put a part of this fun in my work.
Can you tell us a bit about your aesthetic? How has it developed and evolved?
I don’t know if I have an aesthetic. Maybe I just have a way of communicating through drawing. When I create a visual, I need to have something to say. Without that, I am petrified. I love mixing ideas in one drawing. For example, if I want to design something about bike fishing, I will do a fish with a wheel instead of its tail. This is not always the smartest idea, but each drawing or animation has its own concept.
When did gifs become a part of your work?
Last December, I made a list of things I wanted to explore this year, and I had “Trying to do Gif” on that list. I knew how to create them in photoshop, but I didn’t know what I wanted to say with this new medium. So in January, I created one gif per day for a month, just for fun. By the end of the month, I had found this aesthetic and the way to animate it. This is when I started my series of animations of cycling logo. It was just another free-time project for fun.
What is your process, from inspiration to final work?
The process is really simple. I choose a brand and study the logo for how I can play with it and explore what I like about the brand. I don’t want to spend too much time on these gifs, I want to be real, lo-fi and fun. Usually, in thirty to forty-five minutes, the gif is finished and posted on Instagram. Of course, this is not the same process when it is a commission. On these, I spend more time even if I try to keep this same funny energy.
You’ve had some cool projects lately with some of our favorite brands andbike shops. Can you talk a bit about a few of your favorites?
These last months have been really cool. I made some Instagram stickers for Paul Component Engineering, a few visuals and logos for the amazing store Bike Makes Me Happy in Seoul, and this month I will be in London for an exhibition at Look Mum No Hands. All these projects are really crazy for me because I’m just a guy in a little town in France. This is why I am so grateful for all the brands and shops and for their trust. I have always tried to do my job with the goal to work with people that inspire me, and this is exactly what I get to do with these bicycle designs.
Are there any dream clients you’re dying to work with?
To be honest, I have so much to learn from the cycling community that each new project, big or small, is a dream if I’m free to express myself and have fun.
My exhibition at Look Mum No Hands in London where I will show a series of flags I’ve designed. This is my first show outside of France. I’m a little bit scared but I’m sure it will be fun. In December, I will also organize a lo-fi cyclocross/Tracklocross event in my hometown with old and new friends. And I hope to have a lot of a new cycling projects.