French artist Aurélien Fournier is internet famous and his popularity makes sense; almost all of his illustrations feature the back of a protagonist, allowing viewers to share the view of a complex, fantastical, and technologically rich world. Fournier combines classic and neo-classical imagery — leather clothing, wooded areas, fairy-magic — with contemporary technology.
He spoke to Inverse about how the superannuated and the super futuristic can be combined organically to create something fundamentally human.
I love your urban cityscapes, especially ‘The City of Newcrest’. Can you tell me why urban environments are so inspiring to you?
Urban environments are so inspiring for me because I am a big fan of science fiction, and I am always thinking about how our world will change in the future, and how our cities keep growing faster and bigger, I find it quite interesting to imagine how they will look in one hundred years or thousand years from now…
Are you imagining that your concept art all belongs in the same universe?
For some of them, yes, I like to describe different areas of the same imaginary world, but most of them are from totally different worlds.
I can spot a couple characters in your world using what looks like magic. How does magic live alongside technology in your world?
Ha! Yes, when I am working on a medieval or fantasy scene, I always imagine magic things happening. When I consider about magic and technology, I feel like the forces we call magic, might be, in my world, just advanced technologies which we lost or we don’t yet understand, so I try to make something that looks like a combination of the two.
How do you feel about science fiction films and games right now? Are you a fan of the way any worlds look, in particular?
I would like more movies to take risks in their design. I feel like most sci-fi films now look too similar. I mean, sure, the movies look absolutely spectacular because every team has amazing artists and full digital studios working on it, but wouldn’t it would be cool if science fiction films put more time into developing their extended universes?
Like Blade Runner, Alien, or 2001: A Space Odyssey! Of course, there are still some unconditionally awesome-looking contemporary sci-fi movies like, Interstellar and Gravity. I keep re-watching some of those, every week or so. As far as games, I especially love the BioShock universe. I just think the series looks absolutely fantastic.
You’ve got some Ancient Roman-looking imagery in several of your pieces, including “High Mill Market”. Are you inspired by that culture, or the way things looked then?
I absolutely love what we know about Roman culture and architecture. It’s definitely a big inspiration for me. I am actually in the process of creating a few images set in a world where the Romans are still in power. I’m trying to mix our modern technology with the way their armor and architecture looked, to create a kind of Roman, high-tech era.
Aurélien’s art is available on his ArtStation website.