Illustrator Simon Landrein explains his peculiar, provocative comic strips

We interviewed Simon about his first ever exhibition, I Don't Get It.

Peeping Toms, exposed buttocks, a whole load of dismemberment – all this from a man who's somehow bagged big clients like Apple, Nike and MTV, and who not so long ago art directed a stylish sequence for kids animation The Amazing World of Gumball. I really don't get it...

After all this success though, I'm surprised to learn I'm standing in what is Simon Landrein's first ever exhibition of original works, I Don't Get It, showing now in the art space of Pocko, the London agency Simon's signed to in the UK.

The digital artist returned from France back to his old stomping ground of London to launch the show, a collection of six-panel comic strips that both beguile and provoke. There you'll find screenprints and ink drawings like these dotted around the spic-and-span space of Pocko Gallery. 

We spoke to Simon on camera about his desire to move from digital and play with the physical, alongside working out what makes the French artist tick. Is he a Peeping Tom like many of the figures in his strips, and why did he prefer six vertical squares as the vehicle for his distinctive anti-narratives?

Check out the full video of our face to face interview or read Simon's musings below; don’t forget, you can now subscribe to the new Digital Arts channel on YouTube.

Screenprint Simon

"Screenprints are the medium I like at the moment when I want to create prints in real life, instead of like printing digital prints.

"I Don't Get It is not a series; it's a selection of six prints I really like, alongside ones I made myself to learn the technique (instead of printing professionally).

"It's more a compilation of things I've created over the last year; (still though) there are some themes, like finding a twist to the plot I set up. Mainly I'm finding fun in the narrative aspects."

Simon's subversions

"When you read comics, you expect a narrative, but because there are only six panels you can't explain that much, and there are no words, so it can be very abstract and confusing. Which I kind of like!

"That explains the name of the show, because a lot of people tell me, 'I don't get it.' I like that as if you get confused, that means you have to think about it a little deeper."

On influences

"When I used to work in an animation studio, I worked on a lot of storyboards, a lot of keyframes. At some point we had a job for a bank and we had a lot to cover, so I had to find a simple style.

"I came back with a very naive style, which I didn't like until I figured out it was a nice way to produce a lot and tell little stories.

"My frustration at that time was I working on a lot of commercials, and you can't inject any edgy subject matter into it, so I made this sort of storyboard with no words-style to see what I could come up with."

"But I don't find anything edgy about eroticism. I just find it to be a good icebreaker! It gets people interested very quickly."

A to B

"(My works) aren't well thought out, to be honest. Sometimes I have an idea for a character to go from Point A to Point B and along the way I find some funny ideas.

"I don't sketch that much nowadays, I go straight to Photoshop. But I'd like to do more print work to balance out the computer stuff with real life."

I Don't Get It started 14th November and is showing at Pocko until February 2020.

View more work by Simon Landrein on his official site and via his Instagram page.

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