Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Interview: Adrien Noterdaem - Best... Cartoonist... Ever...

What goes through the mind of a guy who has a passion for “Simpsonizing” every famous character/person he sees and has even been commissioned by WIRED to draw a series of Simpsonized characters? Check out our exclusive interview with world famous Belgian artist Adrien Noterdaem to get inside his yellowish cartooney head!

geeKeWL: You are best known for your Simpsonized versions of popular TV show casts (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, etc). How did you originally get the idea to do these series of drawings?

Adrien Noterdaem: I always enjoyed watching "The Simpsons." I already did some fan art from time to time. Also I did an interactive map of Springfield years ago. I started to draw myself as a Simpson and then a few friends started to ask me for a drawing of their family Simpsonized - for birthdays, weddings, etc, so I got used to it. I enjoyed it so I started to draw famous people. No specific goal, I just made sure that they were not yet a guest on the show. So that's why I did some Belgian people (I'm pretty sure none of my countrymen will ever be on the show.) After that, everything went quite fast. I put everything on my Tumblr and I forced myself to do one per day, so it would get done quickly. The series became obvious.

geeKeWL: Are any of your older works like the fan art or interactive map of Springfield available to be viewed somewhere?

Adrien Noterdaem: The map is still available here (old-school Flash, it needs to be updated I think)

Interactive Map of Springfield (screenshot)

geeKeWL: I think you are officially the most famous Belgian associated with the Simpsons. Perhaps FOX can ask you to make a guest appearance on the show one day in some sort of cameo.

Adrien Noterdaem: Oh, we can dream a bit, but yes, if they have that awesome idea, FOX can contact me anytime, via mail, Twitter, Facebook... :)

geeKeWL: Do you remember the official Simpson character creator that came out when the Simpsons movie was released? Did you ever use it? What are your thoughts on using a system that just assembles popular "parts" of Simpsons characteristics to make a character versus what you are doing with your works?

Homer gets a taste of molly - Simpsonized by Adrien

Adrien Noterdaem: I did myself as a Simpsons-avatar way before the Movie. Yes I tested it, but, even if it's quite cool to do, it's quickly limited. This is because of the false impression of simplicity the drawing style of the Simpsons has. It seems really simple, but you move a line a bit, or add a tiny line somewhere, and it's completely another person. That's what I learned. For example you will notice some of my drawings are too detailed to really be on the show. The more I draw for my Tumblr, the more I delete lines. It's not easy.

geeKeWL: Knowing what not to include is one of the traits of a great artist, don't you agree? However, I think it's actually one of the nice features of your work that set it apart from using a "Simpson creator" or something like that. One can see that your art was made by hand and done with care in retaining details that otherwise might not be present if it were just on the show. It seems like the art of the show is meant to be simpler because it's easier to animate.

Adrien Noterdaem: When you understand that simplicity, and the difficulty beyond that, you understand how good The Simpsons' team is. I don't know if it makes me a good artist.

geeKeWL: What was your first piece to get picked up by the worldwide design community? How did it initially happen?

Adrien Noterdaem: The first series was Game Of Thrones. I don't remember who first posted it, but it was quickly reblogged worldwide.

Game of Thrones (series 1) - Simpsonized by Adrien

geeKeWL: Do you watch all the shows you do full cast Simpsonized versions of? Any you dislike?

Adrien Noterdaem: Yes, I watched (I think) all of the shows I did on my Tumblr. First the one I like or the one I'm watching on the same times. Sometimes it was requested. The Walking Dead series was for WIRED. The show is not my favorite one (I love the comics so much), but I like the characters in the series. So, it's fun to draw.

geeKeWL: How did it feel to know that your artwork suddenly had an audience of possibly millions of people? As an artist did you begin to second guess yourself about the quality of your work?

Adrien Noterdaem: I still don't know what to think about all this. I'm not the only one or the first to do this kind of stuff. I do it for the passion, but once you are on Mashable, Wired or Buzzfeed it's quite awesome - I must admit. Yes, it's cool for an artist to have this kind of big audience.

geeKeWL: So I guess the pressure didn't get to you?

Adrien Noterdaem: Not yet...

GTA V protagonists - Simpsonized by Adrien

geeKeWL: You currently work as an Art Director at Emakina (a Digital Agency). How has your personal work influenced what you do there for clients?

Adrien Noterdaem: A part of my job, in addition to coach the team and follow projects, is to do layouts to present an idea or concept to a client - sometimes mockups or some finalized illustrations (when the project needs it.) So I use my illustration skills almost every day at work.

geeKeWL: Do you ever get a chance to use your illustration skills for client work?

Adrien Noterdaem: A client asked me for something Simpsons related, but for advertising for a large audience so it becomes blurry in terms of copyright. At a certain point we need to talk to FOX.

geeKeWL: Speaking of FOX, have you heard from them at all about your work?

Adrien Noterdaem: I haven’t have any direct contact from FOX yet (or their lawyers.) But anyway, I think they know my work. Hank Azaria and some of the cast posted it on Facebook and Twitter and I showed it to Bill Morrison during a convention in Belgium months ago. I don't draw the Simpsons family, or use the Simpsons logo or name, I -sort of- steal a style to do an artistic project. Again, if somebody has a problem or question they can contact me.

Some very wealthy voice actors - Simpsonized by Adrien

geeKeWL: Now that you've had success with your Simpsonized pieces what will be your next big thing? Do you have something in the works that you can share with us?

Adrien Noterdaem: The Simpsonized stuff was not meant to be a 'big thing.' I’m continuing with these drawings because I have a lot of contacts asking me this and that. For the blog, I'll continue with some new Simpsonized stuff (not just TV series sets and static characters on a white background.) I want to go out of the screen, maybe some huge stuff on walls with real colors.

Your favorite former single lady Beyonce get's the Simpsonized treatment
(work in progress by Adrien Noterdaem)

geeKeWL: That sounds cool. You should maybe do a poll to see which characters are most "in demand" by your fans and then create a few and have them printed for use on walls at a place like LTL Prints.

Adrien Noterdaem: Yes, I want to do that kind of stuff. I just need time for now. I don't want to launch a poll, for example, and not have time to answer it.

geeKeWL: Well, hopefully you find the time. Your work is truly awesome. Thanks a lot for your time Adrien!

Adrien Noterdaem: No problemo! :)

You can see more of Adrien's work on his tumblr: or his Facebook page. Follow him on Twitter or visit his personal site if that isn't enough for you.

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