Guillaume Pain Interview

Guillaume Pain, or Tougui, is a French freelance illustrator and graphic designer. Passionate and curious, he likes to experiment with new mediums. Pain splits his time between personal and commercial projects.

Who are you?

I’m Guillaume Pain AKA Tougui, a French illustrator and Papertoy maker living in Annecy.

What do you do?

I draw and create pictures and characters, most of the times using pieces of paper. I split my time between professional and personal projects. I’m always looking for something new, new concepts, new projects…

Where did you grow up?

I grew up near Paris. As a teenager, I was surrounded by the cultures of street art and skateboarders. When I started going to university in Paris itself, my friends and I hung out all the time, wandering in the streets looking for cool collages and stickers.

We spent a lot of time in arty bookstores, and when we got out of there we had our heads full of pictures. Then we just started drawing like crazy in our sketchbooks.

My friends were more interested in lettering and I was more about characters. I think that that is really the time when I got all my graphic influences and really found my style.


When did you take you first big risk in life?

It was for one of my first jobs as a freelance artist. Some guy contacted me to design the interior of a very hype showroom is Paris. As I don’t work a lot with paint and I work essentially with solid colors, I decided to do it with adhesive vinyl.

There was 120 square meters to cover, and I had no clue how much work that would actually represent, or how I would do it. But the sketches were approved, and I had a deadline to uphold.

I had calculated approximately how many meters I needed, but the problem with adhesive vinyl is that you have to draw on the back of it, otherwise it’s difficult to erase the pencil’s marks.

So I had to draw everything in reverse and in freehand, and then cut all the elements with my scissors. I had exactly the exact amount of vinyl to cover the room, and wouldn’t have had the time to order some more.

In other words, I only had one shot at this. Plus, I really couldn’t make any mistakes while sticking them on the walls, as the paint on it would come off if I tried to reposition anything…

You can imagine that I was under a lot of pressure for two entire weeks, working 12 hours a day! But in the end, everything turned out awesome and nobody could actually believe that I did it all by myself without using a machine.

This whole thing really promoted my work later on.

Why have you persisted with the path you’re currently on?

I’m really passionate about my job. It’s actually more than a job to me, it’s where I find my balance. I’m fascinated by the “creation” process.

When I make a Papertoy for myself or a client, I’m like a kid resting his chin on the table and making the toy he just built spin. And I’ll do my best to keep it that way for the longest time possible.


Who is someone you’d love to work with?

Humm I don’t know. I’d say that I’m not “bankable” enough yet in the eyes of some people [to work] with them. Or that I don’t have the contacts of the right people to work with a specific brand. But right now, I don’t have a specific brand or name in mind to be honest.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on quite a few projects at the same time right now. I’m finishing work on the communication material of the RockOnSnowboardTour event.

I’m working on a personal project of fake cereal box packaging, preparing for the next stage of my exhibit “Freak Me Out,” and working on new Papertoys, new posters…


Where do you spend most of your free time?

I do a lot of sports, I tinker around the house, and take care of my family.

What is your biggest success so far?

My biggest success? I’d say that it is to have succeeded in making a living out of my job. To have been able to make people curious about what I do and my creations…

To receive e-mails from people just to support me, participate in exhibits, get some of my work published in books, meet new people, and get to work with really talented artists.

Those are amazing rewards. I’m only 28, and I know that there is still a lot lying ahead.

Written by Carolyn Buszynski

Carolyn is a McGill University graduate currently living and working in Toronto.