Best of Behance: Steeven Salvat

By Jenny Carless

Who: Steeven Salvat

What: Drawing, Illustration


Behance member since: 2010

Illustrator Steeven Salvat’s work is inspired by old black-and-white etchings, but he gives the style a modern twist. He loves to draw with a Rotring pen and china ink—a technique he started employing four years ago, when he met Théo Jan (with whom he sometimes collaborates, under the name Steev & Jan).

Nature Hostile 2 was a collaboration between Steeven Salvat and Théo Jan.

He does use digital tools when the situation calls for it—such as, for example, when he and Jan created two animated GIFs, frame by frame, in Adobe Photoshop. The works were called Nature Hostile 1 and Nature Hostile 2 (pictured).


“I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean and marine creatures,” says Salvat, who grew up in the French Riviera town of Menton. And it was this interest in sea creatures that led him to create the series Mechanical / Biological [A Crustacean Study], this month’s “Best of Behance” pick.

Salvat does a lot of web research before beginning to draw.

“For the biological aspect of the crustaceans, I studied a lot of photos,” he says. “The mechanical aspect is completely made up to follow the shape of the subject; it’s the most challenging part of my drawings.”

Three images from Salvat’s series Mechanical / Biological [A Crustacean Study].

He adds, “I don’t place the gears randomly. Instead, I try to generate a layout that might possibly work as a mechanism.”

Salvat has drawn since childhood: it’s his passion. But until recently, he had not seriously considered trying to make a living from it. Now he is dedicating more time to his artwork and beginning to take part in new projects and accept commissions.


He first drew mechanics and gears for a project called Rouages, which started thanks to French designer Adrien Petra from Classic Vintage, who likes to twist vintage objects into something different.

“He gave me a nude wooden coffee grinder lamp, and I drew on it,” Salvat says. “I loved the rendering and the feel of it, so I decided to work on a new project inspired by old biological studies, mixed with clockworks, to get the ancient/steampunk look.”

Surrealism, science fiction, and highly imaginative movies and novels have always inspired his work.

Take a closer look at the crustaceans in the Mechanical / Biological series, and you may notice something else unusual:

“The names are made up,” Salvat points out. “They’re dedications to my family and friends. For example, my father is called Alain and my mom is Corinne; their dedicated drawings are Cancer Gigalain and Astacidae Corinae.”


To match the old-style feel of the illustrations, Salvat dyes his own paper for this project. He used a 180-gram Canson paper—soaking the paper in a mixture of boiled water and black tea for 15 to 30 minutes.

“The drying part is kind of tricky, as you have to put heavy books on the paper to keep it from curling,” he explains. “The last step is to iron it.”


Salvat has also illustrated skateboards. He skateboarded as a teenager and liked the diversity of illustrations on the decks from the different brands. His first skateboard drawings were commissioned for the “Ride My Art” exhibitions in Paris. This gave him the chance to discover the rendering of ink on wood.

Salvat’s skateboard drawings were commissioned for an exhibition in Paris.

“Working on wood isn’t really so different from paper,” he says. “You just have to be really careful, as small particles get stuck in the nib of the pen.”

Salvat enjoys discovering new work from his favorite artists—such as Jeremy Bastian, Zoe Keller, Aaron Horkey, Sineater, and others—on Instagram.

“There is so much talent out there!” he says.

His future plans include releasing a new series of small drawings, taking on more commissioned work, and perhaps a new drawing on a wooden object.

Check out more of Steeven Salvat’s work, on his online portfolio and on his Instagram feed.


April 24, 2017