One of the things I love the most about running a blog is the opportunity it presents me. I get to create fun content that speaks to myself and others like me and having the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other creators, I’d never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. Penelope' is a published French Illustrator, and her latest book, Brazen, is on the top of my to-read list.
NAL: How did you begin your journey as an illustrator?
PB: I've been drawing since I was maybe 3 or 4, like every kid. Drawing and writing stroies quickly became company for me, and I started making little books in primary school (my mom still has them somewhere probably). I went to an ENSAD in France, where I studied animation. After graduation, I started doing commissioned works for advertising agencies, book covers and the like. One thing led to another and a magazine I was working for offered me their last page for a weekly strip, I gave comics a try, enjoyed it and now I'm making books again!
NAL: Do you have any favorite artists or illustrators?
PB: I've been very influenced as a child by cartoons more than comics, and especially by what I thought was the art of Walt Disney but was really the creations of Mary Blair, and her poetic colorful world. Later on I discovered another woman, behind the books that I loved too, the adventures of the Moomins, that is Tove Jansson, who is portrayed in my book Brazen. And when I started reading graphic novels, women like Marjane Satrapi or Alison Bechdel really showed me the variety of stories you could tell through comics.
NAL:What was your favorite thing about Brazen?
PB: Reading ! I spent a year in the company of all these women who, in very different ways, strongly took hold of their fate and didn't let other people chose for them. At some point, it necessarily grows on you, it has been a very empowering journey for me, personally.
NAL: Can you walk us through a typical work day?
PB: I usually wake up very early (I have no idea why, even without an alarm on my phone, I never sleep late) and stop working early. In the meantime, I try to work in big slots, typically my morning is about emails and annoying stuff, and I keep my afternoon as a block to work on my long term project (usually a book). I work either from home on a computer, from my female coworking space The Wing when on an ipad, or from a café for the writing-only part. But I can spend weeks without being able to produce anything, and then suddenly go hectic and wake up in the middle of the night with the urge to draw. In short, I don't really have a typical work day (which is awesome)
NAL: Do you have a favorite project that you’ve done so far?
PB: Honestly, Brazen, because it led me to travel, meet incredible people, connect with a different audience, and learn a lot.
NAL: How would you describe your art style?
PB: I'm still improving the same art style I've had since I was three.
NAL: What is your favorite movie?
PB: Jurassic Park
NAL: If you could live in any fictional universe, what would it be and why?
PB: I would love to be a sibling of Wes Anderson's Tenenbaum family, live in their house, wear vintage sportswear, have a camping tent in my bedroom and be part of Margot's plays.
NAL: Can you walk us through your creative process?
PB: I have to be frustrated not to be able to write so that I can write. So my creative process consists in provoking long periods of time when I'm away from creating, like accepting commissioned work, or going on long promoting tours. And usually, on the plane, when I have nothing else to do and no wifi, I'm suddenly crushed under an avalanche of genius ideas, 99% of which are actually crap the morning after. But the 1% I keep is usually fun, and I can't wait til I'm done with my current tasks and finally get to writing again.
NAL: Any advice for beginning Artists?
PB: Show your work a lot, but to a very very selective group of trustworthy people. And learn to say no to opportunities sometimes.