1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hi! I’m Amélie, a french illustrator. I was born in a tiny village called Champigny sur Yonne in Burgundy where i had a very bucolic childhood, with a big garden, cats, snails chasing, walking barefoot, bees stings on barefoot…
Both my parents worked in planes so I travelled a lot during childhood. My mom is very into decoration and she painted walls and furnitures at home with beautiful frescoes that she invented. She is a very manual person and i learned a lot from her. My father loves art very much and he is a very sensitive person with an experienced eye since he used to be antique dealer. Besides our house was filled with beautiful furnitures he kept from this times.
I came to Paris to study art, met my life partner here and never left the area. I’m an illustrator for kids but also for grown up and I like having the opportunity to switch from an universe to the other. In 2013, I participate to the exposition The PARISIANER and made a food illustration representing a classical Parisian aperitif scene. Since then, i’m very often asked to draw food, which is something i really enjoy.
Lately, I illustrated a nice book that i really love about insects called « Nos Voisins les insectes » at editions de la martinière and now i’m getting a lot of propositions to illustrate insects and animals. Which makes apparently my second speciality from the moment. I’m very happy with it because these are things I really enjoy drawing.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
i think my style is feminine, colorful and with a hint of 2nd degree. I guess it’s also tinted with a vintage touch since I often hear this. Which feels not very surprising since I fancy vintage a lot like in decoration etc. I love flea markets and objects that had a life before us, so I guess my style reflect that to.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
I work on photoshop and love this software because it is very intuitive and give me the feeling i’m really drawing even if it’s « virtual ». I can add textures and give the illusion of handmade illustrations, not too vector i mean.
And of course, the big advantage is i can try things and go back, I can modify easily things, change colors… It leaves me more free to experiment. However, i have to confess that I’d really love to find a way to work more traditionally lately. But I haven’t found yet the technique that let me be that efficient.
4. What is your artistic process like?
I always make tiny sketches with pencil on a sketchbook to find the composition of the image. I do all my researches by hand on sketchbook, I need this step to be « handmade » to feel comfortable. Then i make a «clean rough» with more details on photoshop, if editor wants to check this step and if not go straight to the color.
I used to work with a graphic tablet until its recent death and i finally decided to buy a cintiq which makes me really happy and wondering why i didn’t buy it sooner! My sketches are not very detailed because I like to feel free for the colored step to find ways to render textures and other details without being too frozen by the lines of the sketch.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I’m drawing every week the gastronomical section in a magazine called les echos weekend. I have to illustrate dishes from french famous restaurants but also have to draw the interior of a restaurant, imagining people having lunch in it.
My favorite part of this work is to draw those people, imagining the way they are dressed, what they can say, what is the connection between them: are they relatives? friends? lovers? It’s like when you’re kid, playing doll and imagining a whole new world. So I guess one of my number one inspiration is people, women especially. It was easier before COVID-19 era, but I really enjoy to look at people in the street, in the subway or in restaurants and try to notice details to remember for my next illu, like haircut, shoes, handbag…
When I draw those restaurants, I really love when there is a detail that catches me in their decoration, such as a beautiful bouquet (I love to draw flowers) a fun carpet, an antic painting on the wall or a collection of old objects… Also lately I feel very attracted by 70’s illustrations and Folk art in general. And more generally, I can tell i like art when there is an offbeat point of view. When there is a bit of « ugly » in the beauty. I think i love what’s on the brink of bad taste. I love Kitch.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Art has been very important since I’m a kid. We had lots of art books and illustrated. I remember a book of Le douanier Rousseau about his jungle paintings that marked me a lot. It aroused sensations of weirdness, fantasy, uncomfort and attraction at the same time. I still remember those feelings. So I guess art is about sensations but also about beauty and opening your mind.
It makes look at things more clearly both literally and figuratively and sharpens our vision. It is also a way to express myself since as a child I was not very talkative and I drew more than I spoke. I remember inventing worlds with my drawings and never get bored. I notice that for me, as for lots of people, art is essential. As if it was filling a gap. Creating something makes you feel more complete.
7. Where did you study?
I studied Visual communication in Parisian Ecole Estienne. I quit school after getting my BTS and I threw myself into the vast world of illustration without knowing it at all. But I was certain I wanted to do this. I elaborated a few projects and when felt ready I sent them to publishers. It was a very long process to get my first book published but it worth it!
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I feel a real desire to develop my own stories. So within five years, I wish I could have time to write my children books because I think my work will be more meaningful and complete this way. I started my career by writing my own projects, but weirdly lately I’m very shy with writing something by myself. I’m so accustomed to illustrate the stories of others, I get the impostor syndrome when I try to write mine.
9. What about in ten?
I really hope I will still live doing this amazing job, but my dream would be having more time aside from my work to experiment new artistics and artisanal techniques. Maybe living in the countryside and having a workshop dedicated to trying many various things.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I want my illustrations to be joyful and playful to look at.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Very easy: a sandwich. More precisely a «Parisien» which is baguette bread, ham and butter. Simple and absolutely delicious! And if not, then cheese platter with good bread or langoustines with homemade mayonnaise!
12. Favourite book?
Depends on the moment. Right now, I like books that make me travel back in time and I loved for instance «le ventre de Paris» de Zola. It’s talking about Paris in the late 19th century. And it describes les Halles of Paris with many details about textures, materials, smells, fabrics, food … You can feel what life was at this time. It’s a real time travel.
Otherwise, I read lately graphic novels from Camille JOURDY and directly became fan of her work. Her style is very feminine and sweet. It looks very simple almost childish but her characters and their psychologies are very deep and realistic. You feel like you know them already.
13. Favourite genre of music?
I’m open to almost any genre of music. Besides I have a playlist which is a melting pot of many songs I like and it really makes no sense. If you take a look at it, you will stroll from some Charles Trenet to NTM, to Led zeppelin to Beyoncé, to Bachar Mar-Khalifé, to Serge Gainsbourg: No logic.
BUT after seeing the great movie Ya no estoy aqui de Fernando Frías de La Parra, I became totally crazy about Cumbia Music which is a colombian style of music. Since then, I drive everybody crazy by listening Cumbia all day long. If you’re interested listen to Spotify’s playlist called Terkos for siempre. It’s a good remedy for seasonal depression!
14. What are your hobbies?
I started playing the ukulele last year and i love playing this tiny instrument. I find very relaxing the sound and vibrations it creates. I’m very bad at it, but as soon as i have a moment, i grab it and play!
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Being crazy about garage sales, I think I would love to do something like being a second-hand dealer. I love chasing old furniture, decoration, jewels, dishes, ect and love to restore them. It is not a coincidence if I live near the St ouen Flea market and spend a lot of time there!