Friday, 9 December 2016

5 Minutes with.. Eglantine Ceulemans

This week we've been catching up with Eglantine Ceulemans from her home in Lyon. We've been discussing all things children's illustration, from her love of character creation, to what inspires her and her three top tips for aspiring illustrators. So why not take five minutes, grab a cuppa, and lets get to know a little more about Eglantine...

Where do you live/work?

I live in Lyon, France, and work from home. I usually work from a studio, but I have recently had an operation and I am now recovering at home. I shall be back at the studio soon!

What do you love about working there?

My co-workers. You can feel lonely when you work by yourself. It's always nice to have someone giving you advices, chatting with you and with whom you can have fun during lunchtime. Also, I have no children of my own, and love spending time with my co-workers’ tiny humans when they come in to the studio.

What are your dislikes?

I hate stepping into a puddle on the bathroom floor when I have my socks on. But maybe you are asking about what I don’t like about working in a studio? There are no dislikes for now. I'm really happy to work in such a creative environment.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I love creating universes and meeting new imaginary friends. Every new character I have the chance to illustrate has its own proper universe, even if it's not written in the story, 
I imagine its personality, its parents' names, what it likes, dislikes and even what its favourite book is.

On the topic of creating universes, it's always nice to illustrate what you can't have in real life: a wacky world where otters speak English and wear bow-ties, where we would walk on walls if we'd fancy it or where you can see 30ft tall ice-creams.

How do you work – what are your techniques?

It depends on the projects whether I work digitally or traditionally. 

Digitally, I work on a cintiq: a screen you can draw on with a stylus. I find it very intuitive and it gives me the impression of drawing on paper.

Traditionally, though I start my roughs digitally, I print them and trace them using Indian ink with a nib or a very sharp pen. Then I colour them with an ink called Colorex.

What is your favourite thing to draw?

Tough question! It really depends on the story I'm illustrating... However, I'm very keen on unusual things, this gives me the opportunity to hide elements that aren't written in the story and aren't supposed to happen in the real world: mice having a fancy dinner, a knitting spider, extravagant clothes etc.

Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?

I shall say...administrative things and accountancy ! Ugh, I hate it so much.

What or who are you inspired by?

I am mostly inspired by little details: my friends' socks with a lemon pattern, that I might use for one of my characters vests, the crazy hat my great-aunt wore for my cousin's wedding (it had at least 7 different types of feathers on it!) or even atypical interiors: my godmother has hundreds of puppets hanging on the wall by her stairs - it's amazing!

But of course, I have also been greatly inspired by some illustrators, from being a childhood until today: Babette cole, Quentin Blake, Posy Simmonds, and french ones as well: Benjamin Chaud, Sempé, Gabrielle Vincent and many others...

What do you like to in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

I love cycles. I have bought many over the years, but most of them got stolen (the joy of living in a big city...). I love fixing them (still learning not to break them even more though...), painting them and collecting some very very old ones (one of them was 80 years old!). Today, my trusty steed is named Sylvie (yes, I give names to my bikes), it is light blue and comes with me wherever I go.

How did you get into illustration?

A little bit by accident...I've always drawn, when I was a child, I was very quiet and it was a nice way to express myself. But it never came to my mind to make a living out of it. When I imagined a job where you would draw, I would imagine a tormented artist in a rickety studio painting a depressing landscape on a big canvas. 

My drawings were made to make people laugh, and I couldn't imagine myself being that sad painter I pictured...

So I got into accounting...It turned out to be one of the worst experiences of my life.

Then someone told me about Emile Cohl art school, where you train to be an illustrator. I went there and have never looked back.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1) Work hard. Never stop's the only way to progress.

2) Have fun. Don't force yourself to draw flowerpots if you don't like it. If your thing is 'horses' for instance, go for horses everywhere, but add some challenges: add a rider, tell a story with your drawing, try to add a background etc. You should progress and have fun at the same time.

3) Don't hesitate to contact other illustrators, they can give you good advice and reassure you if you're having doubts (I started doing this when I was quite young: at 14 years old, I sent an email to a very well-known illustrator, he gave me loads of advice that I'm still following today). 

What’s your ultimate dream?

Maybe travelling around the world with Sirius' flying motorbike.

Marge in Charge illustrated by Eglantine and written by Isla Fisher is available now here, with a second title coming in January! For more of Eglantine's amazing work, visit her PP folio page here!

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