Meet Guillaume “Paykhan” Roux: An Art Director and Illustrator

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Nov 29, 2021 •  Interviews

Guillaume Roux, mostly known by his artistic name “Paykhan”, is a multidisciplinary art director and illustrator from Paris, France. He crafts Visual Identities & Logotype, Webdesign UX/UI & Illustration.

“… I’m not a big fan of routine, but I found out that creating rituals every day, meditating, or waking up earlier creates a natural flow of creativity and helps that process.

(c)Guillaume-Roux-2
Artwork by Guillaume Roux

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Can you please tell us a bit about your background?

I started to have an attraction for visual things from a young age. As a kid, I would draw characters or imaginary scenes, make small zines for my sister or spend hours looking at picture books.

So, when I had to choose what to study, I naturally directed my studies towards art and graphic design. I started working with some creative agencies in Paris during my graduation, focusing on web design at that time and art direction in the process.

But after a few years, I realized, that I wanted to explore more. After 5 years in agencies, I decided to start freelancing and never stopped. I focus on creating visual identities, graphic design, and in recent years more and more illustration.

What inspired you to make art?

What drove me to follow this path was the appeal of seeking imaginative realities. As a kid, I could spend hours playing and drawing other universes. A science-fiction book written by French author René Barjavel: ’La nuit des temps’, inspired the name I use for my work (translates to The night of the times). Even nowadays I feel connected to the convergence of science and fiction because it triggers my imagination.

What is more, at a young age, I got also inspired by children’s books and comics in general and later in my adolescence by Surrealism with the work of Salvador Dali, René Magritte, and Max Ernst.

Did you study at art school(s) or are you self-taught? What did you study? What were the “aha” moments? What did you find the most beneficial?

I studied art school in Paris. First I learned classical art and drawing by hand, then creating layout design, lettering design and also perspective drawing. And I continued by working more on the digital side after embracing every possible media : print, web, video…

Those experiences helped me to understand different work for different industries. I found it beneficial to have a very wide type of creative education, embracing traditional and modern approaches. It helps me to have a capacity to work on very different types of projects.

I don’t think that I had any “aha” moment, but I received a strong critique about my personal work from a professor that I was admiring at school. At first it really made me doubt my purpose, but I found out later that it pushed me to continue to go forward and develop my personal approach even more, ultimately leading to freelancing.

(c)Guillaume-Roux-3
Artwork by Guillaume Roux

How did you develop your own art style? Where do you go for inspiration? How do you keep your creativity flowing?

This is always difficult to define. I would say it is something that comes naturally, mostly inspired by daily life, like walking in a street, a park, eating something particular, hearing a piece of music for the first time, or even doing nothing.

I’m not a big fan of routine, but I found out that creating rituals every day, meditating, or waking up earlier creates a natural flow of creativity and helps that process.

How did you start making a living as an artist? What was your first paid art job?

I started as a graphic designer and web Designer in an agency.

I’m grateful for that experience, because It helped forge my vision about the industry and later decide to become a freelancer. I also had the opportunity to work with a small group of designers, and I became art director later, which gave me more experience to think creatively.

My first paid freelance job was creating visual identity and illustration for a festival … it was amazing feeling that I can work on my own.

What do you live from as an artist now? What are your main income streams and what is the approximate % split of each?

Most of my income comes from designing and Illustrating.

In recent years I took more freedom to do more illustration work and by partnering with Colagene agency in Paris, which I really enjoy. It gives me more space to be imaginative and creative.

I would say that 60% of my income comes from the graphic design & art direction side and 40% from illustration, but this is always changing.

What are you currently working on?

I recently worked on a podcast’s visual system based on a tale, which includes some illustrations and character design depicting its universe.

I recently also finished a series of vintage designed posters inspired by French landscapes for an agency and have a potential upcoming project for a large mural illustration in Asia.

What do you think are the most important characteristics of an artist?

Passion and dedication!

Also, I discovered through pandemic that resilience is an important one, because life is a constantly moving and creativity depends on it. We have to be adaptable to be creative.

(c)Guillaume-Roux-1
Artwork by Guillaume Roux

What are the art tools and other products and services you can’t live without?

I developed an addiction to red pencils from Faber Castell (I know it sounds weird). I use them every day to draw and prepare works, mostly in moleskine or on layout paper, before jumping to screen.

Also, as a digital tool, I really love Krita, a free drawing/painting app that really works well with a Wacom tablet.

What are your favorite art and other books (fiction, non-fiction)?

As I mentioned earlier I really like Surrealism but also other more recent art forms like Lowbrow and any type of Street Art.

I love to read books about exploration, travel and ethnology. I almost read all the books from a French author Sylvain Tesson when I was younger. Otherwise the work of Yuval Harari (Sapiens), Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel) and various authors on the theme of Space and Astrophysics made me rethink my perception of history and the ‘world’ at large. These themes influence my work in many ways.

What advice would you give yourself as a beginner artist? Or alternatively please include your favorite quote and the author.

I think the only advice that comes to my mind, or that I would have liked to hear as a beginner would be: “Follow what you like, what makes you different from others and never listen to fear.”

Get in touch with Guillaume

Thank you, Guillaume, for joining us today!

All artworks by Guillaume Roux, used with permission.

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Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help wake up your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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