Ariane Gear

[ITW] ItArtWork – Illustrations that take you straight back to the 70s, 80s, and 90s 11-26-2020 |  7 minutes

Continuing our series on the illustrators whose work is featured in the ArianeGroup shop products, we talk to French graphic designer ItArtWork. His high-color designs, shot through with pop and vintage vibes, are all about getting a message across.

What does being an illustrator or graphic artist mean for you?

I see myself as a graphic artist rather than an illustrator per se. I’ve always loved pictures and I try to use them in my compositions to tell stories, convey ideas and concepts. Most of my projects are for communication projects, either designing a graphic identity, creating a layout, drawing illustrations, or producing videos.

What does ArianeGroup and space in general make you think of?

When I was young, I dreamt of being able to travel into space one day. I was a great fan of Star Wars, and the Ariane rockets seemed to make that dream more accessible. Even today, I’m still fascinated by aerospace design. In terms of graphics, I remember the space-influenced designs on the T-shirts and badges we used to wear as children in the 80s. Those vintage visuals have a huge impact on my work for ArianeGroup.

We asked you to take the Ariane 5 and 6 rockets as your creative starting point. How did you approach this?

I wanted to move away from realistic representations of rockets. Right from the start, I was picturing images that could be applied to textiles or even embroidered on little badges. That meant I had to stylize the rockets because the design had to remain visible and recognizable on whatever medium it was applied to. My creations are rather like pictograms or logos. To begin with, I worked in black and white with the rocket in the center, then applied a variety of color combinations. It’s really interesting to see how the underlying ‘story’ of a design changes when you use different colors.

Your brightly colored illustrations are retro, playful and a bit cartoony – how would you describe your style?

I have a range of styles, but the common factor behind all of them is that I am essentially aiming for simplicity. I want people to be able to make a connection with my design and the concept that it portrays at first glance. I’ve got into the habit of not using overly complex designs on the T-shirts I market myself. My creations need to make an instant impact, like a logo. Using bright, mostly block colors helps me to convey the message more effectively and give my creations the style I’m looking for.

Your creations also include references to design, cinema, gaming … what are your main inspiration sources?

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, so my work is hugely influenced by pop culture, particularly my color palette and the themes I choose. I admire lots of artists, illustrators, and graphic artists, but I have to single out Milton Glaser, the creator of the “I love NY” logo. Sadly, he died earlier this year, but his creations are a never-ending source of inspiration, particularly his work on album covers, which is enormously rich and varied.

Another big influence for me is 80s cartoons, mangas (Gigi, Jeanne et Serge) and American productions (Jem and the Holograms). The colors and worlds are fascinating! Films are obviously a major creative point of reference, as are my travels. I spend lots of time decrypting pictograms and logos and also mentally unpackaging the street art I come across in the towns and cities I visit. I find cities like Tokyo and Los Angeles absolutely incredible in this respect.

Tell us about the many illustrations you’ve created for the ArianeGroup shop. What’s your favorite?

The central theme for my creations for the ArianeGroup shop is the 70s, from disco to the hippie movement. It’s there in the bright colors and the choice of typefaces. You could imagine the clouds and stars motif behind the rocket as it pierces the rainbow on the wallpaper in a child’s bedroom in the 70s. And the rather cutesy “kawaii” hearts element is my homage to Japanese comic books from the late 70s.

In the you can see original creations by ItArtWork and four other illustrators, and find that special gift for space geeks.