Michel Verdu is a freelance character designer and illustrator. His madcap characters bumble around, sing and scowl all while remaining charming and cute. His eye-catching colours help bring energy and an mystical quality to his work. Though the saturation isn’t pumped up to the max, it is pretty close. Michel Verdu shares with us the push he needed to become a freelance illustrator and the importance of humour in his work.
I was born and raised in Ecuador and still live in the capital Quito. It’s a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and has a rich heritage.
I fell in love with illustration a little late I think. From childhood I loved cartoons and comics and always tried to recreate them but I was not very good at drawing and left this habit behind in my teenage years. When I started art college I took some filmmaking courses but it was not what I really wanted to do in life. I always imagined cartoon characters, crazy situations and stories. So I decided to go for a digital animation career.
During my studies, I rediscovered how to draw and gave shape to my ideas. I knew then, what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! Animation is super cool but I was not very good at it. My true talent was to create characters, concept art, illustrations, backgrounds and other design stuff in the pre-production animation process.
After a lot of patience trying to get my degree as an animator I was ready to enter into the professional life but I didn’t have enough experience. I started working as a designer and animator for a while, but I never had the chance to make my own characters or artwork in my previous jobs. It was not until I met a veteran pinup artist called Alberto Ruiz, who was teaching a workshop and showed him some of my work, that things changed. It was not even a portfolio at that time, it was a bunch of sketches. He showed some interest in them, he said to me “why don’t you start as a freelance illustrator?” and I thought “why not?”. His words were the kickstart I needed.
I decided to start making new pieces and a strong portfolio on Behance and Artstation hoping that people around the world would be interested in my work. With tenacity, time and patience it happened! I have been working as a freelancer for the last four years. I worked for animation studios locally and around the world. I worked for some mobile game studios and children’s book editorials. I think my most notable clients were Samsung and Sesame Street Workshop but my favourite project was a card game I made for Old Chap Games (France) called Panic Island. It’s a super crazy game, lots of fun. I had the chance to make all the visual development.
In my creative process I try to give myself the time to practise a lot and always learn new things. I think the learning process never ends for artists. When I create something I put a lot of effort to make my characters life-like and make them funny and humorous. For me, humour is the essence of my work, all of this with a strong design and beautiful colours. Honestly, money is necessary but not the ultimate goal, sometimes the project experiences and challenges are more valuable to grow as an artist.