Charlie Mars’ works span illustration, animation and video, and his unique style inspired by a diverse life trajectory has led his works to attracting significant acclaim. Having taken a 15-year-long break from illustration, Charlie is now back and his newfound creative freedom shines through his glazed textures.

Your artistic journey started from unconventional experiences like being a plasterer, fakir, and punk singer. How have they influenced your artistic style and approach?

My first job, the only one I learned at school, was plastering, which taught me how to shoot straight video without using the bubble level, and most importantly, that it wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. The rest were experiments or jobs to pay the bills. I was searching for myself for 2 or 3 years, and this again helped me find out what I didn’t want to do.

“Coucou Tchoutchou” garnered attention and awards at several festivals. Could you share the inspiration behind this animated object and how it represents your artistic vision?

For Coucou Tchoutchou, it was the time when I just started drawing again. I used to do a lot of animation with other people’s drawings, and then I felt the need to do something on my own and put in whatever came to my mind without asking myself too many questions. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do something with my own drawings, because I didn’t think I was a very good artist. It was a need to create some kind of big, absurd fireworks that made me feel good and which could make people feel good.

Can you tell us about the moment you discovered your passion for art? What inspired you to start creating videos and illustrations?

When I was a child and teenager, I lived in the countryside and didn’t go to exhibitions or movies. I wasn’t exposed to much art, except for watching shows and movies on a tiny black and white TV, on very rare occasions. On the other hand, I really needed to experiment with sound, image, and drawing: making stuff, doing things for the pleasure of doing them. I soon realized that this was necessary to keep from sinking into depression and to feel alive. When I left the family nest, I realized that I wasn’t alone, and I discovered many fascinating things that reinforced my desire for “doing stuff”!

Your work has been featured on various platforms, including the local French channel “Télénantes” and the French national channel Canal+. How did these opportunities shape your artistic journey, and what did you learn from presenting and directing short formats on television?

Local television helped me learn, without pressure and in total autonomy. I was very poorly paid, but I was completely free and I discovered what it was like to have an audience. On national television, I presented a show where we showed DIY films, which was in line with what I was already doing: but it was still television, it was fun, but not necessarily very creative.

Returning to drawing after over 15 years seems like a significant decision. What prompted you to rediscover drawing, and how does it complement your work in animation and illustration?

When I was animating other people’s drawings, I sometimes found myself a bit of a forger, because sometimes there were elements missing that I had to create. I did this while thinking that I wasn’t very good at drawing. In the end, it was the perfect incentive: if I was a forger, I could make whatever I wanted! I told myself I needed to get back to basics: “make stuff” without asking myself too many questions.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of your artistic career? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re particularly excited about?

I don’t have any crazy ambitions at the moment. I’m often motivated by requests, like for video clips that allow me to go somewhere else, so the surprise doesn’t come from me alone. However, I have long wanted to make a coloring book for children and adults. Also, I’ve only done two exhibitions, and the last one was over 16 years ago, so I’m starting to get a serious itch.

We now have an ongoing theme named Sugar Rush. If art is like eye candy for people, what would be your favorite sweet treat?

My favorite treat right now is the work of Acarien Triton @acarien_triton. Delicious.

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Born in 1980, Charlie Mars is a self-taught artist living and working in France. After a plasterer’s diploma and unconventional experiences as a fakir, diaper delivery man or punk singer, he quickly developed a passion for the medium of video in all its creative applications. In 2004, wearing a multicolored balaclava and using a CCTV camera, he made his first videos and some of the very first tutorials on the French Internet, alone in his bathroom.

From 2004 to 2007, he worked for the local French channel “Télénantes”, presenting and directing various short formats. In 2006, Charlie Mars met the video artist Pierrick Sorin, with whom he continues to collaborate regularly, both in the production of works and in the staging of operas. At the same time, he was discovered by the French national channel Canal+, where he presented the program “Les films faits à la maison” from 2008 to 2010. In 2012, he continued his experiments on stage with the performance “Free Sausage” and “Pregnant Man”. He has directed over sixty music videos and two children’s musicals in 2011 and 2013 in Quebec, Canada. In 2016, his short film “Pregnant Man” was selected for over 30 festivals and won 3 awards.

Attentive to all forms of creation, he turned to animation in 2014. He gradually returned to drawing, which he had neglected for more than 15 years. After becoming aware of the graphic dimension of his work, he actively turned to 2D and 3D animation and illustration, without abandoning live action. In 2021, the animated object “Coucou Tchoutchou” attracted the attention of many festivals (Annecy, Pictoplasma, etc.) and won several awards.


Artwork by Charlie Mars @charlimars

All music by Charlie Mars except « Coucou Tchoutchou » and « Prouti 4000 » by Vabaira – @vabaira

Interview / Markéta Kosinová


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