What does a typical work day look like for you?
Wake up at 7, do some yoga, drink a cup of good green tea, have a walk, then paint quietly... that WOULD be awesome! For the last years, I worked a lot, from the morning until late at night, which is not sustainable in the long run. I’m getting more organized now, and plan some free time in the evenings and weekends, which I completely forgot about lately. I came to realize that in every aspect of this job, more constraints mean surprisingly more freedom. But it takes some time to find the right pace.
What was your very first illustration?
I think it was for a puppet company. I still like that little booklet, even if I’m sometimes not very fond of my old works!
What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
I was a bit of a strange kid, talking to trees, birds and flowers... So I developed very early a sense of magic, spending most of my free time in the woods. We have a tendency to invent stories to explain the things we don’t understand in our surroundings, so the forest, the mountains, the weather, are all elements that made me imagine characters and stories.
In my childhood, I read a lot of folktales, books from many different cultures, which defined the way I understand the world; a metaphoric language is what speaks the clearest to me. Also, my dreams are vivid, really like a second life lived during the night. The imagination in our dreams is limitless, and some of my characters came from there too. The symbolic language of my dreams is something I give a lot of attention to, and it is very often used in my paintings to translate my vision of the world, or the situations I’m living.
Do you like listening to music or audio books while working or do you prefer silence?
It depends on the stage of the painting: When I sketch, define, decide, design, and place elements, I need to be entirely focused. Once this first step is done, I can listen to music, but not something where I would pay attention to the lyrics (and sing along). In the last stage, I love to listen to audiobooks or music fitting the piece I’m working on during the actual painting. I can even handle a phone conversation, as long as I can listen more than interact. Though, my favorites are long audiobooks, the ones where I can marinate during the painting of the whole piece, which can last for 40, 50 hours. It’s funny, like once the piece is finished, even months after, by looking at some areas of the painting, I can still recall a feeling or a portion of the story I was listening to.
What can you be found doing when your are not illustrating?
Walking, sleeping under the stars by the fire, up in a tree...
What makes the art of illustrating unique to you?
To create an image that serves a text is an exciting journey, and very different from creating spontaneous images. The encounter of two universes can be magical if they fit together well. I recently illustrated two book covers, and I so much enjoyed working on them. To imagine a way to picture the feeling that those books gave me, instead of speaking about the content, was a really stimulating task.
What makes a good illustrator?
I value illustrators who have a very personal and creative universe, but who can use their skills at the story’s service instead of the image itself.
Do you struggle sometimes? Do you have to motivate yourself, and if so, what helps? Is there a kind of "illustrator’s block?"
I struggle to find the time to do everything I would like to do! So, the lack of motivation wouldn’t be an issue for me. Though, I had to take breakes from drawing a few times, and I found it very hard to get back to it. Somebody said that the only way to get out of an art block is to draw ourselves out of it, I couldn’t agree more.