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    Pascal Campion’s “Daybreak”


    The effects of climate change are being felt all over the world. In New York City, the winter—which used to mean bright light and piercing cold—now seems to be manifesting with comparatively mild temperatures and rain. In his cover for the January 23, 2023, issue, Pascal Campion tries to capture the feeling of the city slowly coming to life on a foggy day. I talked to the artist about paying special attention to light as a way of depicting a certain mood, and about how he navigated his capacity for creativity during the pandemic.

    What inspired this image?

    I tend to name my pieces after the feeling that I am trying to capture while I am drawing. In this case, I was after the excitement and promise of early morning, when the world still feels like a blank canvas, after yesterday has ended but before today has begun. I have always been fascinated by these interstitial moments. I used to go on walks very late at night or very early in the morning, when it’s still dark outside; watching the sun rise is magical. In those moments, you feel as though the world belongs only to you—and then another person appears, and then another, and soon the world is awake and filled with sounds and colors. Witnessing that process gives me inspiration and hope.

    You grew up in the bright sunshine of Provence, in the South of France, where van Gogh, Monet, and Cézanne painted, but you have also lived in foggy San Francisco, before settling in Los Angeles. Do you find that the different light of various climates has influenced your work?

    Absolutely. When I lived in San Francisco, I loved the fog there. I also went to school in Strasbourg, in the northeast part of France, close to Germany, where the weather was often cold and dreary. Both places influenced my art work a lot. There is something very comforting about losing yourself in the desaturated worlds of winter.

    During my time in San Francisco, I painted a lot of very bright scenes. I was in love with the golden light that permeated everything at all times, even on rainy days. Now that I live in Los Angeles, I get a lot of sun, but I think it’s making me paint more dreary, wet scenes because I miss that weather.

    You are notorious among artists for your productivity, known for producing a drawing a day for many years. Did the pandemic change your creative habits?

    When COVID happened, I found it difficult to focus on a single image in the way that I had been doing for years and years. I still had the urge to create, but, with so much anxiety around, I found it hard to sustain the concentration for an image that expressed a single emotion. So I started making more comic strips and short stories, in which I would focus on the text. It was a better outlet for me, creatively. Now I’m getting to a point of equilibrium, where I can focus on single images and also create multi-panel stories. By the time this gets published, I will have completed around six thousand three hundred daily sketches or strips.

    What’s on your creative bucket list if you could take a break for a few months?

    There are so many things I want to do, and that is not a good sign for me. I tend to distract myself easily, especially if I’m a little tired. When I’m fresh, I can focus on one thing at a time. When I’m not, it’s a flood gate of ideas and misdirection. So, if I could take a break for a few months, I’d like to write and illustrate longer stories—put my energy into one big project rather than many smaller ones. There’s nothing wrong with a lot of small projects, but I yearn for the feeling of being fully invested in one thing for a long period of time.

    See below for more covers about the city:

    Find Pascal Campion’s covers, cartoons, and more at the Condé Nast Store.

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