Jean-Baptiste Monge was born in Nantes (France), on the 11th of June 1971 and he is currently living in a small Canadian town. He is considered one of the greatest authors and fantasy illustrator in the world. In 1996, he published his first book, Halloween, in collaboration with Erle Ferronnière, with whom he worked for ten years, until 2004.
In 2006, he published his first volume, Carnet de croquis, archives de Féerie Tome I. He was the superintendent of its illustrations, text and layout, as well as for the subsequent Celtic Faeries. In 2007 and 2008 he worked on the book L'Univers des Dragons. In 2008, during the Utopiales, 9th edition of the International Science-Fiction Festival, he received the Wojtek Siudmak Award 2008 for the cover illustration of Comptines assassines, a book published by Pierre Dubois Hoebeke. In 2009, a new award recognizes his value: the jury of Spectrum 16, an event that takes place in Kansan City, awarded him the Silver Award for Book Illustration; again, in 2009 he was awarded for his entire work, with the Art & Fact Award 2009 during Utopiales, 10th edition of the International Science-Fiction Festival. In the same year, during the Spectrum 19, he received the Silver Award for Book Illustration for the Ragnarok volume and the Golden Award for Editorial for Mic Mac Cormac volume.
His works draw liberally in the world of fantasy, fairy tales, and Celtic mythology. His tables are always full of charm, wonder, and enchantment. He was not a good student and his parents’ possibilities were limited. This is also the reason why his art is the result of a self-made process. He left college early, entering the Advertisement and Graphic School in Nantes thanks to his works and the good grades he got in college. He stayed there for two years and then started to work in advertising. Meeting Erle Ferronnière, with whom he worked in his first books, changed his life. The characters of Disney, Tolkien, Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter, Tarzan), Frank Frazetta, Brian Froud, and Alan Lee represent his sources of inspiration. Also painters like Gerome, Gustave Dore, or authors such as Norman Rockwell and Pascal Moguérou, Erle Ferronnière, Olivier Ledroit, John Howe, Paul Bonner, James Gurney, PJ Lynch, James Browne inspired his works.
Even if forced to use in some case the digital instrument, Monge is a traditional painter, who prefers watercolour, acrylic inks or oils, depending on what he has to reproduce. He always starts making a sketch on paper and transferring it on canvas when he is completely satisfied by his work. He is an artist full of imagination that loves watching people in the street, without taking notes except in his mind; he prefers the faces of elderly and full of wrinkles people. Monge dreams about many of his characters, studying attentively their posture and looking for a funny idea. He spends hours to evaluate and choose the right tone of colour for each individual element of his work. His works almost never represent great scenes, instead they show small rooms, more intimate. The major film noticed his talent so that now he frequently works with the entertainment industry for movies, animations, and video games.
Over the past few years, my business model has mostly focused on historical subjects, in which the rigor for the uniforms’ study and the veracity of the represented events are essential parts, if not the priority, in realising these types of subjects.
When I was asked to create the fantasy subjects, I found myself faced with a world in which freedom of expression and freedom from certain constraints of representation was a pleasant diversion. The first thing to do, without a doubt, was choosing which aspect orientation I would have consider, as the fantasy world has a myriad of nuances, characters, creatures, and it is not always easy to choose something that is original. For some time I knew and admired the splendid works of Jean Baptiste Monge, an author/illustrator who combines nature with a world of fantasy, giving his pieces a unique touch of elegance and poetry. While creating this work, I was also inspired by having two young daughters. As every parent knows, this often leads us to see life through their eyes and with the simplicity that distinguishes children. Sculpting the Monge’s characters with my daughters, who were having fun while looking at me, it was a real pleasure.
Compared to the original drawings of Monge, I decided to take a little "artistic" license (I hope that the artist does not hold against me for this reason) in the realization of the scene with the three characters that the illustrator represented separately. The idea was precisely to group multiple boards in a single scene and the presence of the mugs was the common denominator that drove me to choose them.
Regarding the realization itself, I decided to carve the pieces on a small scale (1:32) just to portray at the best the characters of Monge. The most complicated part was to give the right proportions to figures that do not follow the canonical artistic proportions, which is this one of the 8 heads. After this inconvenience, the element that required the most time was the face of the characters. Therefore I tried to capture the sympathy and expressiveness that the illustrator was able to infuse in his works. Given the small size, I used epoxy grout A + B, which catalyses the air and has a workability time of about 2 hours.
Painting subjects inspired by the fantasy worlds of Jean Baptiste Monge is pure fun. The colours are always studied, well calibrated, and extremely realistic. During the painting, it seems to me as if I relived the represented scenes, like few other times happened to me. The work of sculpture is so excellent that makes the characters believable. Needless to say how pleasant painting and discovering this kind of imagination is. I would always be ready to make more!