Malojo was born in Bayonne, France and grew up in a forest near the ocean. He studied literature and cinema, but having spent most of his time drawing in his exercise books, he eventually turned to art. These days, Malojo lives in Toulouse, where he mixes his love for cartoons with classical art, history and a touch of rock ‘n’ roll.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process, from the initial image or idea to the finished piece?
I read a lot: a lot of comics, art books and history books. I also love museums and churches, so I’m always drawing, trying to put all these things I like together and see what happens.
How do you conceptualize/construct a piece? Do you think of it as a story, a snapshot, or an abstraction?
Most of the time, I focus on a main character, and then I work in potential ornaments and details. I’m inspired by painted posters, old commercials, movies, war-propaganda, comics-covers, and aristocratic and religious portraits. Those kind of pictures have to be strong enough to tell an entire story or describe a full character and that’s how I try to think of my images.
You work in both paint and pencil. What appeals to you most about working in pencil?
For me, pencil is easier: it’s more natural and I have more fun in drawing. I learned all by myself, so painting is still full of mysteries but I can give ‘flesh’ to the character and it result something more dramatic. Pencil and paint are two distinctive pleasures; I couldn’t say what my favourite is.
We love the cruel humour of your cartoon characters. Who is your favorite cartoon character and why?
Hard one… I’m mad about classic cartoons: the Silly Symphonies, the Fleischer brothers, the Looney Tunes. Still, I choose Will E. Coyote: he’s the more philosophic cartoon hero and perfectly describes the human condition!
Do you have a favourite subject matter? What’s the particular attraction?
Monsters! They’re as old as art itself and exist in every human culture. They can have all the appearances we want them to have: they can be pathetic or evil or even nice, and we fear them or empathise with them.
Can you tell us about a favourite piece of yours, or a favourite creative experience?
I particularly like Clayflesh, it’s Mickey Mouse pulling out is own flesh from his face. I spent a lot of time on this one; every creative process is very exciting, I am always surprised and I always learn things.
Do you have any early memories of drawing or, what’s your first memory of an image?
When I was five, I took a book on Greek mythology, illustrated by painters from the 19th Century, from the library van. Around the same time, I discovered Crisis on Infinite Earths illustrated by Georges Perez, with dozens of coloured super-heroes in the hand of a giant monster!
What have been some of your biggest influences and inspirations?
I have many influences, from Goya, Rackham, Bosch, Basil Gogos, Charles Jones to Tex Avery, Walt Disney, Mike Mignola and Turner. It’s difficult to answer but at the moment, I’d say my influences would be: James Jean for painting and Al Columbia for drawing.
You also cite a love of old monster movie posters. What monster movie would be your favourite one to reinterpret and why?
It would clearly have to be a new Dracula, as in the Marvel comics illustrated by Gene Colan! It’s a very frightening version of the character but no one can play Dracula as Christopher Lee did!
You had an exhibition with Ciou in October 2013, in Dublin. The two of you have shown together a few times and are both from Toulouse. What is the community/scene of pop surrealist artists in France and Toulouse like?
Lowbrow and pop-surrealism are not very known in France and I don’t know a lot of artists in this scene. We only have conceptual art or street art, so Ciou and I make most of our exhibitions in other countries.
What directions are you interested in taking your work in the future? What can we look forward to from you next?
I love orthodox icons but I don’t know yet what I will do with it. I’ll also continue to work hard to become a better drawer and painter.
Where can people get a hold of your work, or find out more about your previous projects?
In April, I’ll be in New York for an exhibition at the Cotton Candy Machine and I’m also working on my own artbook.
Ciou and I will also open an online shop which you can find here with goodies like posters and books.
Right or left-handed?
What was the last film you saw in the cinema?
World War Z, I loved the book and hated the movie.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
3 Mystery Street by Shigeru Mizuki.
Coffee, nicotine, or booze?
All three in moderation!
Favourite city in the world?
Bayonne, the city where I was born.
Favourite city to draw/sketch/illustrate/create in?
Malojo’s work appears in Issue 3 of Tiny Pencil: The Beast Issue… Monsters, Machines and Unnatural Things! Available to buy here. This interview was brought to you by The Tiny Pencil – fine purveyors of the pencil arts. Follow us on twitter @TheTinyPencil, Facebook, tumblr, and instagram for the latest news on all of our new anthology artzines.