While some artists prefer to delve into the darker and more unsettling corners of the human psyche, others choose to stay on the bright side of things embracing a more positive mindset. We would definitely place illustrator Geoffrey Guillin in the latter category who with his colourful pencil-drawn portraits of humans and animals, immediately puts a smile on one’s face. Born in Paris in 1975, Guillin has been drawing non-stop since a tender young age, influenced by his fascination with the elegant art-deco illustrations of the early 20th century – especially the work of Russian-born French artist Erté (1892-1990). Using colour pencils (and sometimes a little bit of glitter to brighten things up even more), he creates portraits of either imaginary characters or actual people he knows. His trademark is the way he stylises human hair in long, delicate pencil-strokes to create flowing beards and haircuts (Guillin himself dons an impressive gravity-defying handlebar moustache which seems to have come straight from the 1920’s!). His patience, craftsmanship and dedication are evident in the details, textures and colour shades in his portraits which are hand drawn using good, old fashioned well-sharpened pencils.
The main inspiration behind Guillin’s work is emotion: how a portrait will look like depends mainly on the feeling he has when he meets the person he is about to draw for the first time. The portraits are not meant to be comical caricatures, but compositions based on the most prominent features of a person’s face, such as a large forehead, a beautiful beard or an interesting nose. The big puppet-like eyes, inspired by retro cartoons and manga comics, are used to add even more emotion to the image. They also symbolise a wide-eyed fascination with the world around us, since for Guillin ''with bigger eyes we can see more beautiful things and people.'' [via] With such a positive disposition and disarmingly simple working ethos, it is no surprise that Guillin’s portraits are, despite their subtle melancholy and naiveté, heartwarming glimpses into a kinder, more colourful world.