Art People Theater

Alain Vaes

Posted by Paige Bluhdorn

Author, Illustrator and Stage Designer

Where are you from originally?

I’m from the South of France, a town called Béziers.

How long have you been in the States, and how does it compare to France in creativity?

Forty two years. We moved to the States on February1981. I would compare France to America in terms of creativity, at least in the arts I’m involved in. It’s subjective, we use to live in Paris and moved to Boston, in the beginning it was a big cultural shock.

Were you always artistic?

I think I was always artistic. My mother told me that when I was very young, friends and family were amazed at my drawing talent. That could have been a clue for my folks to figure out my future, but my parents did not have an easy life and did not want their son to become a starving artist. So I made it through high school and college doodling constantly on my notebooks instead of taking notes. Eventually I went to art school in Montpellier and then Nice. I was the oldest in my class, but I was very eager to learn. By the way I did not study set and costume design. I wanted to be an illustrator and more specifically a comic book artist.
 I have to mention that I had a parallel activity, I was a volleyball player of a high level, several times champion of France, and I played in the French national team.

Who are some of you favorite artists?

The list of my favorite artists is long and covers a lot of different fields, a few that come back often in my flavor of the month are: Picasso, Anselm Kiefer, Todd Schorr, Combas, Ezio Frigerio, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Andrew Wyeth, Walton Ford, Miquel Barcelo, Max Ernst.

How did you get into stage design?

I got into set design when Violette Verdy asked me to design a backdrop for a ballet she was creating, named after the music: Bach Suite #3. In those days I was a painter, and an author and illustrator of children’s books (seven published). Just hanging around the theater, married to the Boston Ballet prima ballerina, Marie-Christine Mouis. I took the challenge, having no experience in set design, and that was the start of a successful career.

If you didn’t do stage design what would you have done?

Set and costume design is only a fraction of my work, I did children’s books and had painting shows in galleries. If I did not do stage design, I would have had time to do  more books and more paintings.

Do you have any hobbies?

Bicycling, painting, photography.

Are there any up and coming projects you want to tell NTM?

I’m working on a series of animal portraits, I always loved to paint animals, specially domesticated ones or the ones in captivity.

Tell us about your meeting Diana White?

Diana remembers that we met when I designed the sets and costumes of “Waltz Project,” choreography by Peter Martins. She was one of the principals, but my memory is vague on that subject. We met again many years later in Peekskill and fell in love right away.

What is the secret to your long term marriage?

A very long engagement.

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1 Comment

  • Alain Vaes – An amazing artist, amazing Painter. I have been working with him for years, with my Crew here at Cobalt Studios, realizing his beautiful Scenic Designs. Quite a wonderful experience, as he is nowhere near as fierce as his photo indicates. He has a fine sense of humor, is a good communicator, and knows what he wants!!