Mathieu Bitton

Mathieu Bitton. Photo by Polina Rabtseva

Creativity is a big part of how you want to approach your communications. People who have worked with me know that I encourage them to defy convention and embrace originality – by tapping into their creativity. I believe Albert Camus who once wrote: “With rebellion, awareness is born.”

As communications rebels we can look in many places to get inspired and fuel creativity. I especially recommend you to turn to musicians, filmmakers, photographers and visual artists for inspiration when it comes to letting your true voice shine in the most creative way.

One artist who has embraced creativity for over 20 years is the brilliant Grammy nominated art director, photographer, director, producer, and designer Mathieu Bitton.

As a great admirer of Bitton’s work and a huge fan of Lenny Kravitz’ music, I simply HAD to attend a special screening of Bitton’s amazing Lenny Kravitz documentary “Looking Back On Love” in Hollywood and draw inspiration from a work of art that brilliantly combines moving images, music, and words.

An interview with Mathieu Bitton: “Real people with real images.”

I was so intrigued by Bitton’s artistic expression that I asked him if he was open to sharing some of his creative genius with my readers. He said YES!

Nina Grenningloh Reyes: I gotta start with the amazing “Looking Back On Love”. In the Q&A after the screening you mentioned that you wanted the viewer to feel like a fly on the wall and make this film as personal and intimate as possible, and stay away from a polished & immaculate look. What influenced your decision to go for that look & feel, and how did it reflect the message of love that Lenny Kravitz wanted to convey?

Mathieu Bitton: It made the message much more real. You can’t fake what you see in this film. Real people within real images. I decided to do it this way so as not to distract the process and artistry.

NGR: At Communications Rebel, I help people express their unique voice. There’s a quote by Seth Godin that I’ve made my motto: “Instead of being scientists the best marketers are artists. They realize that whatever is being sold is being purchased because it creates an emotional want, not because it fills a simple need.” I think we can all learn a lot from musicians, photographers and other artists when it comes to connecting with people on an emotional level. Can you share with my readers how you tap into both your own and your audience’s emotions when working on a project? Does that even happen consciously?

MB: No, I don’t think about it. But I do think about the fact that it has to be the best possible expression. I can’t just do it, I have to overdo it so I know I put in the necessary time. When I work on a design project, make a video or do a photo shoot, I get very immersed in the subject, listening to the music from that artist or that specific project. That always works. And very loud, too.

Q&A with Mathieu Bitton (left) after Looking Back On Love screening

Q&A with Mathieu Bitton (left) moderated by Leo Quinones of KFWB after Looking Back On Love screening at Arena Cinema in Hollywood

NGR: Your artistic career spans 20+ years as a photography, director & designer. You’ve done a ton of incredible art direction and design for music and film, including album art, posters and logos. You received a Grammy nomination for Best Package/Box design for Jane’s Addiction “Cabinet of Curiosities” in 2008, and the French recently honored you with the highest arts honors, the 2012 medal of Chevalier Dans L’Ordre Des Arts & Lettres. How do you continue to find inspiration on a daily basis?

MB: The nomination was in December 2009 for the 2010 Grammy Awards. And the French award is Knight in the Order of Arts & Letters. An incredible honor. I have so much gratitude for those recognitions. It does help stay on a path to be recognized once in a while. Inspiration comes from so many different places. It can be a single word someone says to me. It can be a bird up in the sky. A sand pattern on the beach. A woman walking by. A sound. Music…etc etc. I have no choice. My brain just never stops.

NGR: You’ve worked with the world’s best artists including Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Sting, Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Quincy Jones, James Brown, Taylor Swift, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Dolly Parton and many more. Each of these artists is unique and has a very genuine & authentic voice. How do you reconcile an artist’s established brand with a fresh design that moves and inspires people?

MB: Let me clarify. Some of those artists were already dead when I worked on these projects obviously, Miles, Marley, Marvin…. but I try to bring their spirits out. I got to show James Brown a bunch of my designs on his CDs, and he really loved them. That was such an honor for me. Basically, I follow my instinct and blend my aesthetic with their legacy and try to do something contemporary that has not been done before. It’s a wonderful challenge.

Massive thanks to Mathieu Bitton for taking the time and share some of your creative insights. It’s an honor to publish you on Communications Rebel!

If you – dear rebels – feel inspired and want to dig deeper into Bitton’s work, I highly recommend you watch Looking Back On Love, which is available on iTunes. You can find Mathieu Bitton on these exquisite social networks: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Portrait of Mathieu Bitton by Polina Rabtseva.