Lucille Clerc’s magical illustrations fuse the real and imagined into highly intricate works rendered in delicate colour, pencil and biro. The designs are dream-like; imagery appears collaged together to create multi-faceted interpretations of a place or narrative. Clerc is particularly drawn to images of our great capital city, but is also known to engage in a multitude of subjects; her response to the recent Charlie Hebdo tragedy captured the imaginations of many and quickly spread across social media. “Illustration is like a infinite territory, you can spend your whole life exploring it and it’s great to be able to do a political drawing one day, a biscuits tin for Fortnum & Mason the day after and an Illustration for a book on Mad Max the following one. It’s a profession that allows you to to have many interests”. As we await the opening of the V & A Illustration Awards Exhibition, we asked Lucille Clerc about her work.
Lisa: How would you describe the work that you make?
Lucille: I work within the field of editorial design and illustration for books and magazines, mainly, and occasionally also realising interior or exhibition spaces. My work is mainly handcrafted from drawing to printing. A lot of my personal work is inspired by London, and mostly produced in screen printing.
Lisa: What are your favourite materials to work with and why?
Lucille: I usually draw with pencils or biro, they feel comfortable, you can find them anywhere and there is nothing complicated in them.Then when I produce my own work I do it in screen printing. It has a very different pace, much slower because of the technique. I come from a family of craftsmen and I respect and admire the idea of a life quest that good craft people have. You learn and refine your skills and technique your whole life. I’m also really attached to the idea of creating something by hand, from scratch, and away from the computer when possible. There is nothing like pushing the ink through the screen, managing to align layers of colour perfectly, watching the dots appearing on the paper, overlapping with the previous layer to create new colours, it’s quite magical, always improvable and I can’t get tired of it.
Lisa: How important is drawing with pen or pencil in today’s technology driven world?
Lucille: I don’t oppose the computer and the pencil, they’re both necessary, but I always start with my pencil, because it feels quicker. I guess I like tangible things, the sound it makes on paper, the dust, the fact that it weighs nothing and allows me to work wherever.
Lisa: Do you draw from life, imagination, photographs or a bit of a combination?
Lucille: A combination of the three. The drawings I make from life constitute the base, my own image bank that I use in my different projects. I like drawing realistically things that don’t necessary exist. I like the confusion that comes with it, creating images that are completely surreal but still feel like they could somehow be real.
Lisa: You use colours in quite an understated way. How do you choose which colours to use in a drawing?
Lucille: I try to apply the same idea to colours, so at first they feel familiar, but then there is always something completely off that makes you wonder. The best is when people ask me if the weird places I draw are real.
Lisa: How often do you draw?
Lucille: Every day
Lisa: What illustration/s are you most proud of and why?
Lucille: Probably the series I started doing for myself, before they turned into commissions.These are the most experimental and show a bit more about me, but I’m not nostalgic, I more excited about the next one!
Lisa: What would be your dream illustration project?
Lucille: I have a wish list but I can’t tell you otherwise it won’t happen 😉
Lisa: What is the scariest aspect of being an illustrator?
Lucille: The scariest is also my favourite: you’re completely free.
There is no limit to what you can do but yourself and often no boundaries between life and work.
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we see more of your work?
Lucille: On my website www.lucilleclerc.com , Instagram @lucille_clerc, twitter @LucilleClerc
Through PrintClub where I print all my illustrations: http://printclublondon.com/artist/lucille-clerc/
And if you want to see the prints in the flesh, I’ll be showing new work at East London Comics + Arts Festival next month and I’ll be part of a few shows this summer. See you there!