Rouages: "Everything contributes to telling a story".

Thierry Vicente is a designer, layout artist and graphic artist with the Campus Life Department. From the covers of Lum magazine, to posters for the university's major events and various brochures and logos, he shapes and signs the UM's imaginary world with his inimitable style. A mission he recounts this month in the video series Rouages produced by the University of Montpellier.

Some may not know his name or face, but anyone working at the University of Montpellier can't have missed his art. From Open Day posters to UM T-shirts to the magnificent covers of Lum magazine, Thierry Vicente has been delighting our eyes for over ten years. After several seasons in communications, this illustrator, layout artist and graphic designer now wields his digital brushes and pencils in the Campus Life Department (DVC). Housed in Building 5 on the Triolet campus, the DVC employs some fifty people " whose main mission is to contribute to the development of staff and students ", explains Thierry Vicente, who works in the events and communications department.

Among the many resources deployed to achieve this mission are the organization of flagship events that mark the tempo of the years at the UM: Open Day in February, the staff party in June, Christmas... There are also awareness-raising actions such as Donner des Elles à l'UM, the week to combat racism and anti-Semitism or LGBT+ phobias. "Of course, I take part with my management in the organization and logistics of these major events, and even when the objective is festive, it requires a great deal of work and investment to ensure that everyone gets pleasure and well-being out of it," confides Thierry Vicente.

Embodying a vision

But beyond the actual organization of these events, it is in the creation of an imaginary world capable of delivering the desired message that the artist reveals himself. Who, at the mention of the event Donner des Elles à l'UM, hasn't seen this midnight-blue poster whose calligraphy seems so familiar to us today? "It's a typography I drew by hand, representing both a bird and the word "elle". This type of poster often depicts a woman or a character, but we wanted to move away from that so that everyone could relate to it," explains Thierry Vicente, for whom each communication medium is the object of collective reflection.

Leaflets, logos, guides, newsletters - everything to do with the image of the Campus Life Department passes through its hands... and its head. " Our department works directly with several vice-presidencies. We start with a vision that is projected by the policy-maker and that must be embodied in the various actions implemented by campus life, and therefore for me, in a graphic implementation." A UM logo revisited in rainbow colors for the week-long fight against LGBT phobias, two non-gendered hands crossed in an X to signal sexual and sexist violence, a hummingbird made of words for Open Day, smiling faces for the fight against racism and anti-Semitism. " Here too, we wanted to break away from the expected image. We often see characters with fists raised in protest. I chose to depict four characters, probably of different nationalities, or at least with different profiles; they form a group and smile, and the slogan is 'Smile at difference'.

Light on the covers

Since 2015, Thierry Vicente has also been the pen, or rather the brush, of Lum magazine, which he illustrates and lays out in collaboration with Caroline Macker, graphic designer in the communications department. " Looking at the first and last covers, I can see that my work has evolved enormously. So have my tools! I started with a mouse, but now I have the same digital painting tools as those used at Pixar or Disney, and a screen that flips over, allowing me to rediscover my drawing sensations."

Twenty-one covers in almost ten years, some of which have had a profound impact on the UM imagier: an orangutan clutching its cub (no. 8), a polar bear frolicking in the desert (no. 12), a ship flying the UM flag in a storm for a special covid issue, an explorer plumbing the depths of the ocean (no. 18) or the forest for the particularly accomplished cover of the latest edition. " It's really the one I worked on the most, I won't say how many hours, and I loved it! But her favorite remains number 3, a child's profile, that of her daughter, Eva: "There's a penetration between my professional and personal work, what I do at home, what I experience feeds my work here at the university and vice versa, what I produce here enriches my personal practice ."

Interior library

And when you ask this enthusiast what he loves so much about his work, the answer is not long in coming: " Telling a story! Light, shadow projection, composition, characters, environment... Everything contributes to telling a story, and that's something I've learned over time. Thierry Vicente didn't forge his pencil stroke on school benches, but rather through self-taught observation, curiosity and the willingness to make many mistakes. " When you want to do this job, it's in your interest to build up a large interior library in which to store literature, graphic art, painting and music. Everything that enriches us as human beings is experience that enables us to create, illustrate and respond to a need for formatting.