Credit: Tom Goyon
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Tom Goyon, Illustrator and Artistic Director, specialized in character creation

03 May 2023 Portraits
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Graduating from the Graphic Motion Designer course at GOBELINS Paris in 2017, Tom Goyon began his career working on animated formats (music videos, short films, commercials) before specializing in character illustration.




Can you look back at your career since graduating as a Graphic, Motion Designer in 2017?

Following my course in animation at the Emile Cohl school, it was my sister, Kim Goyon, also an alumnus of the Graphic Motion Designer course (class of 2013), who inspired me to come to GOBELINS.


After graduating, I went straight into freelancing. I started by looking for motion design assignments. I worked on more institutional projects, and at the same time approached animation studios. After 6 months, I started to contact American and Canadian studios, and soon I was working with Oddfellows and Giant Ant as a designer.


I soon realized thatI was being offered more design work for animation. My training at GOBELINS had enabled me to complement my animation training, which was more focused on fiction, and to develop skills in music videos and advertising.


Then Istarted doing occasional illustration work until in 2019 I signed with Lezilus, a Paris-based illustrators' agent, with whom I collaborated on advertising and publishing projects. In 2020 I also signed with Pekka, an international illustration agency.


Since then, my work has been divided between design, art direction for animation and pure illustration for communication media (board games, children's books...).




So you work with two agents. Why did you make this choice?

It'svery complicated to work in illustration in France without an agent. Advertising and communications agencies almost always use agencies when they're looking for an illustrator. They are an excellent intermediary for negotiating schedules and rates. They also have a much larger address book.


I haven't really made the choice to work with agents, I just feel very privileged. I can't see myself working without them. I don't have to deal with all the paperwork (quotes, transfer of rights, etc.), so I can concentrate on drawing, which is really nice!


On the other hand, working alone can quickly become a burden. Having an agent means I can work with someone who sees me progress and can give me feedback over time.




Illustration de Tom Goyon 

Tom Goyon

How do you choose your projects?

The financial aspect is obviously still very important, but I no longer have to accept every project that comes my way in order to build up my cash flow. I try to maintain a balance between projects that allow me to earn a living and those that fulfill me artistically.


For example, I recently did a series of illustrations for beer labels for a microbrewer friend of mine. His budget was limited, but the project left me plenty of creative scope. It was also an opportunity to see my drawings in print. When you only draw digitally, it's nice to be able to see your work in print.




Illustration de Tom Goyon pour la micro brasserie L'Arrière garde 

Illustration by Tom Goyon for L'Arrière garde microbrewery

What projects have made the biggest impression on you?

My most memorable project over the past two years was for Lutha, a Finnish clothing brand. I created large backdrops with characters to illustrate the four seasons in Finland.


It was the first major project I did with Pekka, my international agent. The budget was rather large and artistically it was very interesting, the brand let me do what I wanted and I was able to experiment with colors, textures...


The end result of the project was also great. My illustrations were printed in 3m x 2m format and displayed in the stores. Today, every time a customer contacts me, they mention this project.




Illustration de Tom Goyon pour Lutha

Illustration by Tom Goyon for Lutha

How do you find inspiration? What are your illustration and motion references?

Like almost all illustrators of my generation, I spend a lot of time on Instagram, Pinterest and now Tiktok. I have access to a huge number of images, which can sometimes be quite indigestible, and it's not always easy to find one's place in all that. Over time, I've learned to let go of all that, to identify the images I like and classify them to find out which illustrators inspire me.


I really like the work of Cyril Pedrosa, a comic book artist and GOBELINS alumnus (animation artist, class of 1995), as well as that of director Quentin Baillieux (Concepteur et Réalisateur de Films d'Animation, 2008) and children's illustrator Annette Marnat.


I'm also hugely inspired by the people around me, such as the work of Leïla Courtillon (Concepteur et Réalisateur de Films d'Animation, class of 2017), who graduated from GOBELINS the same year as me and has become a friend.




Do you get to work with alumni of the school?

After the confinement, I got tired of working alone at home and opened shared offices with other artists (animators, motion designers, illustrators...) including Robin Desnoue , who was in the same class as me and with whom I collaborate regularly.


I also rub shoulders with a lot of former GOBELINS animators. When a studio contacts me for illustrations, I often recommend animators for the rest of the project.


And finally, we've put together a little music and vijing festival for fun with several alumni, including Jules Rigolle (Concepteur et Réalisateur de Films d'Animation, 2017) and Camille Frairrot (Master Design et Management de l'Innovation Interactive - Option Graphisme, 2018). We also teamed up with Antoine Duchêne for this project. He's not an alumnus, but he's worked on the music for many GOBELINS graduation films.




How do you see the future of your career?

The tech sector, which is my main employer, is going through a lot of turbulence. It's a bit difficult to know how the industry will evolve. The arrival of AI also raises a lot of questions, and we don't yet know what impact it will have.


In the years to come, I'd like to be able to leave more room for personal projects (short film, comic strip or illustrated book, exhibition...) to feed my drawing and creativity.




Illutration de Tom Goyon 

Tom Goyon

Can you tell us a good memory of your studies at GOBELINS?

I was coming out of four years of study which had been quite intense, with a lot of soul-searching. The training at GOBELINS and all the work done by Laure Chapalain (the training coordinator) enabled me to gain confidence in myself and my identity.


My best memory is when we had the opportunity to make three clips in the studio for André Manoukian's jazz album. We were able to do a full day's shooting as directors with a whole technical team, dancers and a choreographer. I loved that on-set energy, it was a real opportunity to be able to do that.


That's also why the training was so interesting. We got to touch everything like real art directors (motion, 3D, shooting, print...). I learned a lot, and I think the fact that I'm an art director today is also thanks to the training.




What advice would you give to a recent graduate?

Don't work with too low a day rate! I know it's very difficult, but there are a lot of studios that take advantage of young graduates. You can' t undersell yourself, because that puts the whole profession at risk.


It took me a long time to knock on the doors of the studios and agents I dreamed of working with, because I was afraid I didn't have the level. You shouldn't hesitate to do so, as these people are perfectly aware that your level won't be the same as that of a senior.


We tend to forget this, but progress continues after school, and it's normal not to know how to do everything when you leave.




Interview by Sophie Jean

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