Artist Spotlight: Interview with Michael Jean-Francois

Today’s Artist Spotlight, we interview Michael Jean-Francois, a very talented artist. He loves to create different renditions of popular characters from video games, comics, and movies. I’ve also had the pleasure of knowing him since I was in middle school, which equates to about 18 years now. What also is amazing, is that most of the artwork you see here was done with one or two fingers and a laptop touchpad, no Wacom tablets or mouse.

Nerd Reactor – How you been?

Honestly, I’ve been better. This on going battle with this tumor (2yrs+) isn’t easy. But, I’m hanging in there.

Tell us about your illness and how it has affected your abilities.

Well, its a noncancerous meningioma….basically, kind of a brain tumor. It’s at the base of my skull/brain stem and pushing up. So, i have little function of the left side of my body, leg, arm, toes, fingers…and loss of fine motor skills on the right side. Had surgery 2yrs ago, but surgery was to dangerous to remove it all. Been in a wheelchair since then.

I use the pen tool in photoshop to draw. No tablet, or mouse. Just the built-in touch pad of my laptop. So my creativity can only go so far at times since I cannot sketch. It takes me longer to do my worrk, since I really can just use 1 or 2 fingers at times. But, I have learned to accept my current situation. Actually, it has made me better at photoshop and illustrator. But i do miss to sketch.

How did you get into drawing and how long have you been doing it?

I don’t know! LoL. Since I can remember. My mom said since I could pick up a crayon. So….all my life?

I noticed a lot of your current work uses Illustrator, are there any other mediums that you use as well?

Not illustrator all the way, Photoshop also. Sadly, due to this tumor, I have lost a lot of my motor skills. So that means holding a pen or pencil is impossible at the moment. But prior to this, and hopefully after. I’ll be back to pencil and ink. I am boring in those term. I’ve done the pastels, charcoals, conte crayons, etc. But I love pencil, ink, and dare i say, markers.

What are some of your favorite comic books or comic book superheroes that help inspire you?

Batman is #1. He’s always been. When all other kids were about Superman, or Wolverine, or whichever character was “hot” at the moment, i stuck to him. Something about a somewhat regular human being in the universe of superbeings, that is both feared and respected is a no brainer! Then we got Wolverine. One of the most underplayed and under appreciated guy, yet he’s still cool!

Who is your favorite comic book artist and why?

Must you ask? Rob Liefeld……I’m joking. Tumors not that far in my head! It’s a hard question. I love Alex Ross’ style. The way the heroes/villains look in Kingdom Come! They look real, without being campy of Hollywood budget type costumes. Then there’s Joe Madureira. He’s characters have that COMIC BOOK feel. The anatomy, lines, everything. You mistake neither one of their styles. BTW he does game developing too. His big breakout game was Darksiders.

When not drawing or doing artworks, what do you like to do?

I used to play tons of Video Games, but, sorry to sound so damn depressing! Ye ol’ tumor has taken that too. Lol. Now I think of movies I’d love to make. Long shot I know. I have a few movie ideas. Also working on 2 books, fixing plots and characters, etc.

What video games do you find yourself playing the most?

It was between Gears of War, or Call of DUTY. But Gears mostly. I really enjoyed that “team” feeling. Actually talking, and setting up plans, strategy. Instead of just running out to be RAMBO!

Is it a possibility that you might have more video game themed works in the future?

Heck yes! Got a few Street Fighters in muh nogging. Soon.

Any insight to future projects coming up?

I think a lot. I wish too. And being artistic, my mind never shuts up. I love “What ifs”… I drew an African American Captain America. What if, during WW2, Super Soldier program was an experimental program in which the “volunteers” were Afro Americans? Who else to experiment on then the considered, lower class? So, I’m planning on a few W.I’s. What if Darkwing Duck wasn’t so Disney, or childish? A Dark Knight mallard? Sound funny, but really. I dare you to revisit him, minus the kids stuff, and look at his story, and villains. There’s some scary GOTHAM type things there!

I definitely look forward to seeing more of Michael’s artwork in the future. For now, check out a nice sampling of some of his works. For more, check out his Official Deviant Art Page.

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