Being funny isn’t always easy. But drawing funny is downright difficult.
Combining humor and art walks a fine line in which both must be consistent and harmonious in visual and comedic style. So when it’s said that Victor Brousseaud draws funny, it’s a compliment.
Victor’s also had a lot of practice, which helps explain his honed style and ability to incorporate humor. As the product of an artistic household—his parents met at art school—drawing has been ingrained into the way he processes what’s around him.
“I saw [my parents] drawing when I was very young, and it was a normal influence for me to draw,” says 31-year-old Victor. “When I was in the classroom, very young, I used to draw in the left margin of my books and the teachers were [criticizing] me for that. I can’t remember when I didn’t draw.”
The mustachioed French artist is a product and graphic designer by trade, working for Salomon skis, but he’s a mountain biker, BMXer, skier and surfer by life. He lives at the base of Mont Blanc, a short drive from Chamonix, France, the country’s mountain-sports capital. Growing up in the south of France, his dad was an avid mountain biker, though not in a style that appealed to Victor at the time.
“I used to ride bikes on the weekend with him,” Victor remembers. “At the beginning it was a bit annoying for me because I didn’t like to climb.”
He admits he was more into riding scooters back then, but once he saw a few of his friends hitting jumps and doing wheelies on their mountain bikes, he was intrigued by their freestyle moves. It was a side of mountain biking he had yet to discover. Soon after, he was riding with friends on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons, then joining his dad for those famously grueling Sundays of climbing.
Throughout, Victor was drawing. But at an age when life experiences are minimal and visual absorption is at an all-time high, he turned to what was right in front of him for inspiration: comic books. He was reading French comics like Spirou and Joe Bar Team, taking notes from the illustrators to his own pen. This influence is one of the cornerstones of the style he’s developed in the two decades since.
“To be original is to draw with a special subject,” he says. “I think I’m someone who likes to have fun. I have a lot of humor, so I try to carry that in my drawings. I’m passionate about mountain bikes, BMX, surfing and everything like that, so I think my singularity is not the way that I draw, but the subject that I draw and the mix [with humor].”
It’s no surprise that bikes quickly found their way into Victor’s art. He would send his drawings to the BMX magazines he read, hoping to see them in the next issue, and quite often he would. At one point, he entered a drawing contest held by one of the magazines and won.
After earning his baccalauréat (France’s equivalent of a high school diploma) he studied at École Supérieure d’Arts Appliqués de Bourgogne for two years, followed by another year at Lycée Léonard de Vinci in conjunction with an intern- ship at a small trials motorcycle company called Scorpa. His first job after school was creating commercial graphics for the French sportsgroup Decathlon. He worked his way up the ladder to become a product designer there before his recent move to Salomon.
“I’ve been lucky,” Victor says, “but I’ve always chosen to [move up] when I had the chance. I wasn’t like, ‘I’ll stay in this path.’ Every change I’ve decided to do has been good for me.”
What stands out about Victor’s art is the elaborate detail. This meticulousness is not only in the roost and bones, but also the bikes themselves. He pays attention to what kind of brakes or suspension someone rides, or the way a helmet looks, all of which stems from his knowledge as a product designer.
Beyond the minutiae, every illustration provides a little bit of cultural commentary. He pokes fun at the sport with hyperbole, pointing out the laughable quirks of mountain bikers and our often-frivolous obsessions. From the beer geeks to the fitness freaks, no subcultures escape his sleight of hand—a subtle reminder to make sure we’re laughing at ourselves every once in a while.
“When I’m drawing bikes, I really know what I’m talking about because I ride, I know the culture,” Victor says. “I feel like I have my place in that world. I wouldn’t draw something I don’t know about.”
Victor certainly knows about bikes. Not only has he been riding them for most of his life, but he’s also a devout follower of the World Cup downhill circuit and has done a few enduro races himself. Between the tape, he can forget about everything else, if only for a few minutes, and ride like he’s 12 years old again.
“I really like to follow World Cups,” he says. “I’m a classic fan. It’s like still being a kid and I know the race crew, which is part of the sport. I just like those guys because I feel the sport is still simple. I would like the sport to stay like that.”
Naturally, his work has trickled into the bike world, too. Or, maybe more accurately, the other way around. One time he painted his helmet and made a video of the process. Shortly after, France-based Soul BMX magazine called him and asked if he could paint a few for them. Since then, he’s created artwork for companies like We the People BMX and DYEDbro frame wraps, along with other skateboard and surf companies.
Anything and everything he draws has a direct correlation to the activities that inspire him. It makes sense: Draw what you know. Whether that’s bikes, skis, motorcycles or humor, this familiarity breeds authenticity.
“It’s more like I’m doing things because I’m passionate,” he says. “I believe that I will do good things if they fascinate me.”