As I’ve said before, selecting illustrators for each of our print issues is a tricky, but exciting business. One of the biggest challenges is to ensure that we don’t fall into the trap of commissioning folk with similar styles. It sounds obvious I know, but it’s easy to find yourself drawn to certain type of work and one of the great advantages of having our small editorial team is that it reduces the chances of that happening.
Sometimes though you get illustrators like Aurélie Garnier, whose aesthetic and approach to subject matter is wonderfully idiosyncratic. We were thrilled to work with Aurélie in Issue Three, particularly on the feature ‘Run The World (Women)’ due to her brilliant depictions of powerful female characters. Given that the feature centres around two young women, one of whom interned in refugee camps and the other, a prison, we were confident that Aurélie would find just the right tone. She did and in doing so produced wonderful accompaniment to Gabe Rosenberg’s powerful essay.
For this week’s feature, I quizzed Aurélie on her style, influences and career and in doing so discovered how her distinctive style was born.
For Intern Issue Three
When did you first take an interest in drawing or being artistic?
While I was studying graphic design at ESAM Caen, I started working on books that mixed writing with drawing and illustration. These were private side-projects for years and often would be exotic personal situations featuring a character based on myself. Drawing allowed me to step back, I think, it was a creative outlet for me at the time. At some stage later on, I showed some of the drawings to friends, who really liked them and asked to see more.
With that feedback, I started to consider the work differently and began to actively seek out a variety of media in which I could intervene. Fairly recently that extended to web and print editorial, which really allowed me to apply a narrative style. I was invited illustrate a story in the second issue of Cercle which turned out to be a real pleasure. This was followed by a piece in Décapage and intern. Now there are some others are underway for Well Well Well and Opium Philosophie. I try to focus a portion of my time on this kind of work now, on the side of my graphic design career.
At what stage did you decide that you wanted a creative career?
Pretty early on I think. My mum told me recently that she found an old school writing project of mine where I said that when I would grow up, I wouldn’t work in a farm, I would draw things. I was about seven or eight years old at the time, so I suppose I was already quite determined.
You’ve spend a good deal of your professional life working as a graphic designer, how do you combine that with your illustration work? Do the two merge or do you handle them separately?
It depends. When it’s a commission for a magazine, I feel more like an illustrator. Personal projects, to me, feel more like I’m drawing. But when I do artwork for a particular article, it’s still a personal work in a sense, so it’s not like one overrides the other.
Having spent time as a freelancer and also working for studios, which scenario do you feel better suited to?
Once again, it depends on the project. I really appreciate autonomy, the creative freedom you have when working as a freelancer. Working for studios is another way of working, a more social one. Both professionally and privately I look for a balance, I need both solitude and sociability. People, after all, are my main inspiration.
Yes To All
What does your current role at Maison-Mère encompass and how did the collective form?
Maison-Mère is a project I really enjoy as it was born from a meeting of common desires between Luc Perillat and I. We both wanted to make things that combined a home-made focus with performance, questioning art and its boundaries. In our collective, we’re both thinkers, artists and researchers. Sometimes we find answers, sometimes not. Either way, the shared journey and method in which we explore things compliments each of our skill sets and is a lot of fun.
The Maison-Mère team
Your beautiful line drawn illustration style is used in Issue Three, when did you develop it and what is your process?
Every draw starts with something I heard or something I saw, that attracted my attention. So I have many, many notebooks, where I note these things down in words, or little sketches. Sometimes I don’t remember why I noticed something, but that only makes things more interesting for me. It’s often the case that whatever it is that took my interest initially ends up just being a start-point, I tend to take the idea in a completely different direction and transform the scenario. It’s that fantasy element that I first enjoyed when my drawings were a personal thing.
I think that’s one of my favourite things in drawing, every day is a new one and with it come lots of surprises, inspiration and ideas.
I mostly work digitally on illustrations now, like I did for Intern, but recently, I re-discovered the joy and craft of the pencil. With it, I feel very excited, because my line becomes more fluid and my experiments with the two processes are now influencing one another.
What would your advice be to any current students who are balancing graphic design and illustration?
Drawing is such a personal way of seeing life that I can’t give any advice which would necessarily fit to anyone. More generally, I would say that nothing is final. You can have a way to express yourself one day and then see something that will change everything. Perhaps you’ll meet someone, stop drawing for a while, life is such a succession of mysteries.
For instance, I have a passion for tattoos right now, and it just came from someone I met, so I started designing tattoos for myself and friends. Don’t become too attached to the idea that you only do one thing, in a particular way, leave room for the journey and discovery.
Where can we see more of your work soon?
Keep an eye on French and Belgian publications and magazines. I regularly work for a current affairs blog called Street Press and look at my Tumblr, where you can love and buy posters if you want. Just mail me to say hello and I’ll be there!
For Street Press
Do head over to Aurélie’s tumblr for more of her brilliant illustrated moments, last time we checked it out, we were there for hours. You have been warned!