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An illustration of a desert scene with a man riding a horse pointing at a hot air balloon ship

Advice From the Brilliant Moebius for Illustrators and Artists


Art is education in the capacity of observation and connection with others.

Jean Giraud, known worldwide as Moebius, was a French illustrator of boundless imagination. He influenced works that are now part of the collective imagination, such as Alien, the seventh chapter of Star Wars, “The Empire Strikes Back” and The Fifth Element. His influence even touched Hayao Miyazaki in Japan and Stan Lee in the US, although his most famous pairing was as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s in-house illustrator.

On a visit to Mexico, Moebius spoke to La Jornada newspaper about hos life and work and a plethora of themes from the differences between men and women to the search for enlightenment through creative work.

On that occasion Moebius shared a series of tricks and recommendations for artists (especially illustrators) regarding comics and their spiritual connection. It is curious to note that, in the case of comics, artists are very clear that the expressive force is not in conflict with success in sales; on the contrary, that continuity between creativity and acceptance of the market is simply focused differently.

Moebius criticized the superheroes of US-produced comics for their stiff poses, their fierce features and the emphasis, in the script, on shouts, and in the drawings, on the teeth. He said, “for a reader to believe in the story, the characters must have their own lives and personalities, gestures that come from character, from illnesses; the body transforms with life and there is a message in the structure, in the distribution of fat, of each muscle, of each wrinkle in the face and the body. It is a whole life’s study.”

This study of life itself, incarnate in each character, is what gives life to the comic. It is for that reason that the illustrator and the writer choose the characters “as a director chooses his actors.” If they do not create an emotional connection with their characters, the public will not be able to develop one either.

It is all about a delicate balance between creating a personality for the character and letting yourself be surprised by them: “In this study we also develop attention to the other, a compassion and love for humanity. It is very important for the development of an artist; if you want to be a mirror you must contain the whole world within your consciousness, a mirror that sees everything.”

The artist as a mirror and an eye that never closes go hand in hand with the road that Moebius has followed in his life and work. In reality an artist never ceases to be an artist, not when they walk or sleep, and perhaps not even when they die. According to Moebius, “when an artist, an illustrator, goes out into the street they do not see the same things as normal people. What they see is documentation on the way of living, on people.”

It must be understood that art, and no matter what kind of art we create, comes from a vital connection forged between the personal self and the impersonal self; our customs and our culture, that which we participate in whether we like it or not. Because art is communication, and in the case of Moebius, “drawing is a form of personal communication, but that doesn’t mean that the artist shuts themselves in a bubble; it is communication with those close to us, with ourselves, but also with strangers. Drawing is a means of communicating with the extended family that we do not know, with the public, with the world.”

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