Rencontre avec Thomas Cantoni, illustrateur et graphiste talentueux

Meeting with Thomas Cantoni, talented illustrator and graphic designer

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Thomas Cantoni was born and raised in Marseille, but it was in Paris that he launched his career as a graphic designer. For nearly fifteen years, he shaped the image of a host of brands there on behalf of renowned advertising agencies. And then one day, when it was time to start a family, Thomas Cantoni felt the powerful desire to see the South again. For the sun, and for the sea. Marseille and its surroundings are the California of this surfing enthusiast. Getting off his bike, his hair ruffled by the mistral, the Marseillais tells a little about his life at the table of a café in the Vieux Port, there, just in front of the sailboats ready to sail towards the Calanques.

What is your parents' style?

My mother is Danish from Copenhagen. She has something of a walking cliché: she is delicate, blonde with translucent blue eyes, and very pale. Whatever the season, she wears denim shirts. She has a very American style. My father is Corsican. He has a shaved head and a very thick nose. He speaks loudly, too. My father wore suits and ties all his life. For him, standing matters.

For your part, what were your first inspirations?

For a long time, my uncle made surf films. He introduced me to this culture when I was just a kid. I watched him put together his projects on his big screen, and I soaked in all the images that were passing by. It was a very Californian fantasy, with guys in t-shirts, legends like Tom Curren or Tom Carroll, and the king of longboarding Joel Tudor. From his trips to the United States, my uncle brought me back a whole bunch of logo t-shirts. I wore them with a pair of Van's, also brought back from there.

American logos are an important part of your aesthetic…

Even today, I have a thousand logo t-shirts in my closet. I really like the one with a golden eagle, for the Pontiac car brand. It's so strong that I'm sure there are guys who want the logo before the car. In France, we learn art history in drawing schools, while in the United States, we emphasize graphic design, which is totally different. In France, we may have good basketball players, but the team jerseys are of no interest. Visually, this never works. In the United States, you just have to go watch a college basketball game to experience incredible visuals. The logos of the jerseys always have something great, like the colors, in fact. The same goes for racing car driver equipment and even firefighter uniforms. Everything is racier. America is a permanent graphic slap, with a natural elegance as a bonus. In France, I find that only the OM logo, with the two letters intertwining, has character. And I say that, even though I'm not even a big football fan.

This time, I was in Paris, and on the way to a meeting, I bought it thinking that, that way, I would throw away a little more. I still wonder what was going through my head.

Generally speaking, what relationship do you have with fashion?

I'm not a fashionista. I have a rather classic style, very timeless, sober. I like to wear white t-shirts and jeans. The basic of the American silhouette. For me, it's a uniform. I like comfort, feeling good in my clothes. In fact, I have trouble getting used to certain trend codes: narrow pants, small hemlines, they're not for me. Sometimes I buy crazy pieces, but I always end up never wearing them, like this leather jacket that cost me an arm and a leg. This time, I was in Paris, and on the way to a meeting, I bought it thinking that, that way, I would throw away a little more. I still wonder what was going through my head. Today, when I put it on in front of a mirror, I feel like I'm in a disguise.

In your opinion, does the city of Marseille have a particular style?

If I had to find a comparison, I would say that Paris is very chic, it's a city with chic, while in Marseille, everything is more popular, in education, and in the way of speaking like that of get dressed. Generally, people here don't care about stylistic artifice. Apart from my friends who are lawyers or notaries, I don't know anyone who wears dress jackets in everyday life. The suit is a professional necessity or nothing. And then Marseille is also a place which has a large breeding ground for what I call “big cakes”. Have-you-seen-me guys who think they're stylish but, in reality, are dressed haphazardly.