Cartoonist and what not.
Jean Duverdier’s story began in Paris. As a little boy, he enjoyed drawing and loved Lucky Luke [editor’s note: famous Belgian comics series]. Later, his interest shifted to cartooning with a growing appreciation for Dubouillon, Sempé, Chaval, Reiser and Mordillo. As a teenager, he was accepted into Penninghen school. Located on Dragon street, this high place of fashion has produced a few big names, past and present.
“Penninghen helped me structure my style and helped me understand what I was drawing. It also opened my eyes to many things…” Back in those days, DTP didn’t exist, nor did Macintosh and Photoshop. “We had tons of nude sketching classes, which is quite difficult, illustration classes, and poster designing classes. Once you graduated from there, you didn’t have to look for work, people came to you. Ad agencies mostly…”
Duverdier did not finish his degree and went about traveling with a pianist friend of his. At that time he dedicated himself to his other passion, music. Together, they spent some time in Corsica; after that, Jean decided to move to the South West of France. That’s when he decided he wanted to draw for a living. The newspaper La Republique hired him and made it possible. Jean also worked in an ad agency for a while.
“When I was 25, I became a freelance artist and most of my clients were either in the media (print) or graphic designers. I had to learn how to adapt to my clients’ needs and requirements, and to understand them. You can’t afford to be choosy, unless you become a very famous artist who can pick and choose whichever projects he wants to do…”
Having dabbled in many styles throughout his extensive career, Jean has taken a particular liking to caricature, a long standing French tradition. His favorites: Mulatier, Ricord and Kruger. “You need to be able to draw out the one expression that is the most striking and be able to capture the person’s character. It takes observation and analytical skills that have to process what is in front of them in 5 to 10 seconds max, like a flash snapshot.”
This has nothing to do with the many caricature artists you will come across in Paris, especially in tourist areas. They usually focus on one imperfection on your face and exaggerate it. According to an infuriated Jean, “they are thieves and liars. They try to make people laugh, but a big nose does not define a person. And, who is to say it’s an imperfection?”
Jean Duverdier is an honest artist; he has developed his own style and has managed to make his mark in numerous circles. He has communicated these qualities to his son Bastien, an accomplished skater and budding musician. “Bastien is a chip off the old block; he is creative, talented and expresses himself through skating. Only time will tell which direction he’ll choose, and whether he’ll decide to work as an artist. Sometimes, I worry about him, just like my parents worried about me, I imagine…”
[editor’s note: Jean Duverdier was hired to sketch participants during the 2013 finals of the GromSearch championship in Capbreton.]