Yves Paquin, illustrator and imagery


His work was reproduced up to 35 million units in Canada, 12 millions in France everybody was able to acquire same at a reasonable price and nobody knows his name, with the exception of a rare few. Yves Paquin, illustrator, has difficulty to accept such anonamity. He drew two stamps for Canada Post Corporation: the one commemorating the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier launched simultaneously in France and Canada in 1984 and the one commemorating Philippe-Aubert de Gaspé launched in the spring. Each time he had to assume his travelling cost when assisting to the launching ceremonies of his postage stamps in Québec City for the Tall Ships and Saint-Jean-Port-Joli in April of this year, ceremonies whereby he had been officially invited.


This is the way illustrators are treated, he says enumerating all the annoyances experienced when practising his trade the most obvious being poorly paid. "I'm not working for money, but I do not want my name to be associated with something poorly done. I have a reputation to maintain".


The postage stamp drawn had being engraved in France and as such can bear the signature of the author and the signature of the engraver. " This is something elementary to see the signature of the author on a postage stamp, but here in Canada it's not permitted", says Yves Paquin with regrets.


Yves Paquin acquired his reputation with a tarot game he drew. After spending some 2,000 hours, in a bent position on his drawing board, and after having carefully researched the meaning of all the symbols. " No one's a prophet in his country, he says with a smile hiding behind his brownish glasses with round lenses. The French people are the ones who awarded me the Graphist prize in 1978 for the most eloquent work of the year in France".


It was the first time this prize had been awarded to someone from Québec. This Tarot game was sold in France and Québec as it was the case with the Jacques-Cartier postage stamps six years later, but Yves Paquin only received ridiculous revenues.


His talent is well recognized in various areas related to illustration. In 1968, still very young, he won a bronze medal at the Cannes Amateur Film Festival for a two minute animated drawing. Twelve years later, New York International Film and Television Festival awarded him a medal for a slide presentation of the National Film Board on "La Corriveau".


According to Yves Paquin, talent only counts for approximately 10% of success, the rest is work and perseverance. "Talent is easy, but work is what's not understood in our institutions, where students are rather left dreaming."


"Everything that is a picture is of interest for me", he says. After animated drawings (cartoons) he moved on to theatrical decor, costumes and exhibition stands. He made posters for the Montréal Symphonic Orchestra. In 1983, he convinced Serge Losique to give the conceptual aspect of the posters of the World Film Festival to a Québec person rather than to a French person from France. He also develops logo graphic work, business cards, etc. for customers. His prime interest is now with film posters, " to decorate every day with nice posters", if he only had such customers, he would go at it with all his energy, because massive distribution is what counts. Self-taught person, Paquin is proud of his training on the job. I would not be able to allow myself with as much fantasies and wanders. At the College, he had chosen history "because of the pictures". He would have also liked to be an archeologist, because he has always been fascinated with treasures of the past. Native of Rouyn-Noranda, Yves Paquin claims not having roots in Québec. He means by that, "it's a shame to produce images only for us". Illustration is considered to be a bastard art, a commercial art, but commercial art is however an extraordinary thing.


He goes on explaining. " The illustrator can make a product attractive to sell, whether it is a record, a book or whatever, he has a greater responsibility than a painter. He is a witness of time and of the public." The Morris column, now being seen in Montréal and which allows posting under ideal conditions, is for him an art gallery accessible to every one.


His growing reputation is working against him as much as it is helping him. " People say I'm too expensive or too busy". Although he refuses to work for a publicity agency, he would like small and mid size businesses, in need of the services of an illustrator, to contact him rather than a publicity agency. " I would offer exactly the same thing with super competitive prices". "I want to do better each time". Constantly on the look out for new styles and new techniques, he believes that an illustrator should allow himself to use several disciplines including the possibilities offered by the computer.


Always on the look out to do better, Yves Paquin claims not to be ambitious. " I just want to be as happy as possible in what I am doing".