Anton Marrast - wider known as Grape Frogg - is a Russian illustrator. Unlike many visual artists who order their artistic thoughts from a visual understanding of things, Anton makes his art in a reverse process. He adds another dimension to what he sees - a dimension of an inner story narrated by restless women and plotted with formidable incidents. Anton is more immersed in the world of literature than in the solid reality of his home city, Moscow. This is where he created illustrations based on Madame Bovary for American Playboy and presently works on images inspired by Gabriel García Márquez. Irrespectively of his critical imagination and intelligent heart, he remains a straightforward guy. In our conversation, Anton sums up some facts about his art.
“…I don’t think I have any fixed subjects… or maybe it’s women, naked women…”
sm: Anton, when and how did you start making illustrations?
AV: Not so long ago, actually. I started by making collage wallpapers for my friends and myself about 12 years ago. It was really far from my current style. I used to make wallpapers with Catherine Deneuve (my favorite actress), some supermodels. Looking back, it was weird, huh. One day I realized that I wanted to make something special, without using any stock photos, clipart and so on. I started to make pictures based on my own photos, or without any photos… most of them still in wallpaper format. So, if we say that illustration is a picture that tells us a story, many old pictures of mine can do that, although there are some that don’t say anything. Compared to my old creations, what I do now is something different. It better represents my style, my thoughts.
sm: I’d love to see one of your Catherine Deneuves!
AV: Okay, here’s one of them! I made it 10 years ago.
sm: How do you create, what is your process from inspiration to creation?
AV: Most of my pictures were created from a lack of ideas. That’s why many of them are so absurd. I used to stare for a few hours at a photo with one lonely thought in my head: “I need to do something with this”. It’s a reverse process – I have a picture first, than I try to do something interesting with it. The idea for a picture can be found in the middle of the process, or at the very end of it. Although, some of my illustrations really do have main ideas that came before I started working on them.
With commercial illustrations, there is a more logical process. First I have an idea, then comes a sketch part, and the rest is based on all this.
sm: While harsh at times, Moscow is one of those naturally magical cities. What is life in Moscow for an artist like yourself? How does your imagined world correlate with the real world around you?
AV: It doesn’t, huh. No, actually many of my pictures show some fictional, imaginary things, surrounded by reality, mixed with reality, photographed real world. Some of my pics show creatures, objects in impossible, weird situations… I just love to think about some fictional, surrealistic meaning of everything that surrounds me.
Oh yes, Moscow is really one of the most magical cities to me. I have some pics based on photos I made on the streets of Moscow (like “I Could Not Imagine”, “Somnambule” or “Flying Giant”), but there’s no special place in my art for this city. It really inspires me – walking around the streets, but I must say that, since I live here in Moscow, it’s just the closest place that can provide some inspiration.
There are many creative people here, but I prefer stay out of art communities, events or performances. I just do not depend on Moscow. It could be any other city for me.
sm: Russian constructivism has inspired Western illustrators for years and I observe that its popularity reaches its peak sometime around now. You obviously stay away from your homeboy style. What is your favourite style?
AV: Well, I don’t have it. I really love experiments. If I have an idea, I start to think about the style that will represent it best. However, a few of my last works can be identified by style. And it’s only because of the recognition factor - I just want people to recognize me by my art.
sm: What is the one thing that influences you most in your life and work? What are your subjects?
AV: Feelings and emotions. Strong emotions and feelings, no matter good or bad. If I have a strong emotion, it will become a picture most of the time.
I don’t think I have any fixed subjects… or maybe it’s women, naked women, haha. Seriously, woman is my favorite character.
sm: Naked Catherine Deneuves on the meta-physical level… I wonder what your works stand for?
AV: My wish to bring out the feelings, emotions hidden in my work.
sm: What are you working on right now?
AV: Right now I’m working on a set of illustrations based on some works by G. G. Márquez. Which ones? It’s a secret, huh.
sm: Where is your work on show / available to buy?
AV: I have two main on-line portfolios. One is on Behance:
And another is on Flickr:
I also have a store on Zazzle.com but there’s nothing special there, just trying out this service:
sm: What are your plans?
AV: It’s all about living my life and making my one and only love as happy as possible.
Anton Marrast born in 1983, Moscow. Last commercial work was Madame Bovary illustration for American Playboy. Currently working on G.G. Márquez illustration series.
interview by Kate, text by Just | sublimotion