Ïve Bastrash‘s movie posters would make any child of the 90s nostalgic about those times when superheroes like “Batman” were our role models and when we used to watch “X-men”, “Pinky and the brain” or “2 Stupid dogs”. With the same cartoon style of the 90s and an eye for monsters, action and sci-fi, Ïve or Inkjava as he calls himself, recreates famous movie posters in a lively and brilliant manner, showing a skillful hand a lots of imagination.
Based in Toronto, Ïve is a talented digital artist with both traditional drawing skills and “digital” skills. He grew up simultaneously with the famous 486 PC, so he had the chance to experience both drawing by hand and design programs like Photoshop, after experiencing some of its old school predecessors – Paint. But even today he is switching between the traditional and digital. I guess there’s something about traditional drawing that no program can replace.
I have and will always favor traditional drawings to digital, but I have been introduced to computers at a very young age and been juggling with the two for quite a bit. My first “digital” drawings were on this very rustic “Paint” program on an old PC 486. I wasn’t doing anything mind blowing -I was around 5 years old so- but it made me aware that this medium “existed” and was accessible. In the late 90s, I was well familiar with more professional programs like Paint Shop Pro and it kept evolving ever since, from Photoshop to a Cintiq. …but I’m still always juggling between traditional and digital.
Curious about how he developed his skills, we asked Ïve what were his main milestones in his artistic path. Being both self-taught and also professionally trained, he confesses that due to his passion, he was way ahead the lessons from school:
I followed an artistic path throughout my entire school years because that’s what I loved to do with my time, all the time. I would have these art classes but hardly learn anything because I had already so much figured out by myself. My mother gave me my first lessons without knowing it. I would watch her draw me tons and tons of little mermaids when I was a kid. Another most formative moment was when I had the opportunity to study 5 months in Bordeaux in an animation program. It made me learn to be more spontaneous when I work and create faster.
With a passion for action movies, cartoons, sci-fi and horror genres, Ïve recreates posters for classics like “The fifth element”, “Batman”, “Chucky” or “The Terminator”. The artist tells us that these themes definitely nurture his creativity, pushing his imagination beyond limits.
Cartoons and movies don’t inspire my style but rather the theme of my work. I think this predilection for sci-fi/horror/action movies and superheroes comes from the fact that these are such dramatic genres, always very flamboyant and strongly flavored. It gives a lot of freedom to the mind. There’s so much creativity that comes out when working with these genres, and it gives you the freedom to explore imaginary worlds you hide in your head.
Having a comic book like style, Ïve explores dramatic and dark themes but brings a new twist by adding a colorful and playful aspect. Just like cartoons, his illustrations turn the negative into a positive. And there’s a subtle sense of humor that shows through his entire designs.
Even though I like scary universes and monsters, I’m drawn to colorful things and I think my style shows it. It’s a weird balance between a stylized and playful look to illustrate some darker material, such as zombies, crazed kings and queens, voracious creatures… As a child, I could watch The Little Mermaid one day and beg my mother to rent Army of Darkness the next day, so it never seemed odd to me.
But besides movie posters, the artist has a rather unusual passion – he’s also designing playing cards! He even has an entire set dedicated to musician Cher, another icon reminiscent of the 90s. Here’s how Ïve describes this elaborate and interesting passion, who takes huge proportions in terms of the work required and the passion that is put into it. As for the deck cards dedicated to Cher, well she herself would be amazed about how Ïve managed to bring unity to all of the characters she represented throughout her songs!
It’s kind of a mystery to me. There’s something about the hierarchy and the order in playing cards that I find very inspiring. When I’m thinking about a playing card project, I’m in front of a whole pile of artwork to which I must find a logic between the characters to justify their rank and elaborate some kind of relationship between them. It’s also the design aspect that I strongly like. It’s fun to be toying around with logos, packaging and coming up with a unique card design for each project. It pleases both the artist and the graphic designer inside me! If I were a good sculptor, I would probably be doing my own chess sets!
Cher is a living legend! I’m completely amazed by her ability to transport you in her various little universes for each of her song in one show with all her flamboyant outfits and make up. Making a deck of playing cards dedicated to her was more of a technical challenge as to how to unify all these personas she created for her songs. The deck had to make sense as a whole while still preserving the uniqueness of each 54 universes.
When it comes to inspiration, Ïve makes a funny analogy about constantly juggling between Bruce Timm and Tim Burton. Just like an angel and a devil on his shoulder, he combines influences from both of them in his work.
I feel like I always have these two tiny masters over my shoulders when I draw: one is Bruce Timm, the other is Tim Burton. I like the grittiness of the latter but I feel it’s something too far stretched from my true own style, but I like how he dares to explore very dark subjects through the eye of a child. And I cling to Bruce Timm’s style for its clean look and angular style. I think they both transpire in my work through my lines and the point of view.
Working for a game design company, Ïve is pretty happy that for his dream job he gets to “design monsters” and other game characters. He’d like to extend these characters to action figures or board games in the future. A big fan of the movie “Alien”, the artist’s dream is to make a cartoon series inspired by the movie one day.
I have been lucky enough to get my first job very quickly after finishing school. I have been the sole artist for a game design company for a year now, doing final in-game artwork as well as concept art and graphic design. I really enjoy concept art, designing characters and monsters, that’s the greatest thing! And since I like imagining my characters being transferred to other mediums, I would love designing action figures, board games, or designing an “Alien” cartoon series, that would be sick! If I could one day contribute to the “Alien” legacy in any way, that would be the greatest honor I could hope for in my career.
As Ïve is a fan of the classics, we couldn’t help asking him what his favorite superhero of all time is.
Hmm. Tough one. I’m completely sold to the Batman universe, but it’s all because of Michelle Pfeiffer’s cat woman.
Enjoy some selections of the artists’ works below. For a moment you can feel like the 90s are back.
All posters are courtesy of Ïve Bastrash