DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE AN ARTIST, AND WHEN DID YOU START ILLUSTRATING?
I never thought that when I grew up I would be an artist. In college I studied science. At the age of 20, I decided to change directions and do what I always loved doing - which was drawing. Soon after, I began to make animated movies.
WHY DO YOU MAKE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN?
Luckily for me there are writers who need someone to take their words and imagine how they could be turned into paintings. I enjoy very much the collaborative teamwork in creating picture books.
ARE ROCH AND YOU FRIENDS, AND DO YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH ROCH?
When we’re doing a book together I meet with Roch to discuss details of the story. There's always a very good feeling between us. He’s a very generous man and I’m thrilled he wanted me to recreate his childhood with my illustrations. It's a great honour that he trusts me to visualize what he puts into words. I have great respect for him.
DO YOU DO RESEARCH?
Yes. I went to Ste. Justine village with Roch and he showed me all the places where his story took place. I saw the house where he grew up, and the skating rink where he played hockey and I even met his mother. I carried a sketch book with me and made drawings so I could remember everything, and I also took photographs. Then when I went back to Montreal, I could look at all these details to know how to make my illustrations. But, of course, a lot of it came from my imagination, as well.
HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SEE THINGS THE WAY ROCH SEES THINGS?
I don’t think about it too much. I just read the things he describes in his stories and then find my own way to make them into pictures. But I always hope I'm expressing it how the author meant it to be. It's a great feeling when Roch looks at something I show him and says "Yes, yes, that's it! It was just like that."
DO YOU LIKE SPORTS LIKE ROCH, AND ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ANOTHER SPORTS BOOK WITH HIM?
The truth is, I can animate someone scoring a goal better than if I had to do it myself on the ice. Lucky for me I get to score as many goals as I want on paper. Roch wrote one specific sports story for each season, making a total of 4 in the series.
ARE ALL YOUR BOOKS PUBLISHED BY TUNDRA?
Five of my six books are published by Tundra but there's another book I illustrated, called PIES, written by Wilma Riley, and published by Coteau Books in Saskatchewan. Like THE SWEATER, it was an NFB movie before it became a children's book.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO DO AN ILLUSTRATION?
On the average, an illustration takes me a good 3 weeks minimum. Believe it or not, some books took almost a year to illustrate, while others, a couple of months. When I start an illustration, I make very rough drawings, then I clean them up adding more and more details, until finally everything is ready to be coloured. Until recently, I used coloured pencils and paints, but in my last book, THE FLYING CANOE, I used the computer to add colour
WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK?
I can never answer that question, since I love each book for what it is, and they all become my favourites as I’m working on them. Even many years later, I never lose my strong connection to each project.