The man who drew 88,000 bricks

London-based French illustrator Thibaud Herem is known for the extraordinary detail of his image-making, working with pencil and Indian inks. One of his specialisms is architectural drawing, and if there was a TV program devoted to 'Extreme Drawing', at the top of the list would be his image of Battersea Power Station which pictured 88,000 lovingly-drawn bricks. He talked to us about his interest in the built environment. 

Has architecture always been a central part of your work? 

Thibaud Herem: Yes it has been, but it has been redefined in the past 10 years with the technique I am using today, becoming more detailed.

(Thibaud Herem, Carlton Cinema, London)

Could you tell us a little about your process? Do you seek the ‘character’ of a building? 

Thibaud Herem: My very first drawing of a building was actually a bird’s-eye view and then I decided I wanted to do “portraits” of buildings, in hommage to the work of the architect and builders. 

(Thibaud Herem, Southgate Tube Station)

You’re known for the detail of your drawings, what’s been the most challenging building or aspect of a building to draw?

Thibaud Herem: The more detailed and more challenging it is, it gives me even more pleasure to draw actually. The most challenging was clearly the Battersea Power Station, I’m very proud of it – 88,000 bricks drawn (exactly) it was a very long process. It took me 500 hours to make! I am so glad I drew it because this side of the building will disappear with the new development and it is a nice trace of it. Especially because I couldn't find an existing front elevation drawing in any archive.

(Thibaud Herem, Battersea Power Station)

Is it mainly brands rather than architects or developers who commission you?

Thibaud Herem: My clients are really diverse and I will say it is equally brands, architects, developers but publishers, fashion and product designers as well. Unfortunately I am not at liberty to say for which building companies (new ones) I have been working for, (NDA are really strong) The images are most of the time used for communication around a new development or renovation like I did for example at the Bromley Town Hall or for the One World Trade Center, people in the industry sometimes want some images which are not 3D renders and give a bit of soul to the buildings, that’s what I am good at! 

(Thibaud Herem, Bromley Town Hall)

What inspired the miniatures?  

Thibaud Herem: The miniatures were a way to express my own design at first without spending too much time on a big drawing, but it became more than that, and now it is a practice I especially used for cards.

 (Thibaud Herem. The drawings of buildings in his miniatures series are 4cm high.)

Best feedback from a client?

Thibaud Herem: I think each project always gave me a very nice feeling but I must say the best is when someone put one of my works on their wall, that's the best feeling of all.

(Thibaud Herem, Drawing for the refurbishment of Number 1 Palace Street in London)

Favourite Architect/Building?

Thibaud Herem: My favorite building is of course hard to say (like picking my best movie or best dish) but I would say Liberty in London due to a very personal relationship and the incredible story of the building.

(Thibaud Herem, Liberty, London)

My favourite architects (not so original) are Mies Van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, depending on the day.

To commission, buy prints and books by Thibaud Herem, click here

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