Joëlle Jolivet’s Workshop – Video

posted in: Joelle Jolivet | 3

Whilst writing my review of Rapido’s Next Stop by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joëlle Jolivet I cam across a video of Joëlle Jolivet talking about her work, on YouTube. In the video she talks about the process of creating her artwork and her inspiration, so it’s definitely worth a look. The video is in French, but with thanks to blog readers Sophie and Fred (with whom I discussed the video), and Mélanie from Library Mice (who provided the translation from French below), you too can find out more about Jolivet’s work by reading the transcript of the video below.

Joëlle Jolivet’s Workshop

Filmed by Pascal Bordenave in November 2011, shared and translated here with his permission.

“You must never tell an illustrator she has an extra two days … wait I’ve not printed it yet, I am about to ink, but it looks good.

So this is the poster for next year’s Printemps des Poètes [Poets’ Spring – a French poetry festival]. The theme is “childhoods”. I started by doing a sketch on the computer. I often use the computer as if it was a sketching pencil. Using the lasso tool allows me to cut in the same way that I would with lino and often I end up with sketches done on the computer that are closer to the finished product than if I had used a pencil. Though I always use a pencil to begin with. This one was drawn directly on the computer, then I do consecutive drawings on tracing paper which I superimpose until I get the right one. After that, the engraving begins, which can be long and tedious sometimes, but I am getting to the end now.

I have always seen the world in black and white, with strong contrasts. There must be people who see things in outlines mainly, and I am one of them. This way of expressing myself suits me and therefore if I don’t use lino, I end up using really thick pencils or brushes; “delicate” drawings are not my thing, it is not in my nature.

Children like my because of the simplicity of the lines I think and actually I have seen this first hand with [my books] “Presque tout” [Almost Everything] and “Zoologique” [Zoo-ology], which are large format visual dictionaries [original French: imagiers]. I realised with those that children actually copy my drawings, sometimes even tracing them, and I think my style, the way way I draw “real” things is easy for them to access.

Funnily enough my inspiration was the illustrated spreads in dictionaries and “cabinets of curiosities“, which are all drawings with a purpose. They represented the world, especially at a time when there were no photographs, although there were photographs in some dictionaries but certainly not when “cabinets of curiosities” were created. Then later I discovered [Katsushika] Hokusai, and especially his Hokusai Manga which is like a catalogue of everything; he drew objects, tools, animals, people and eventually it became five volumes of sketches.

Wow, I had found my master.

Getting rid the dirt … here we go! Let’s go!

The disadvantage of using a computer is that the ink dries in the pots [ie whilst working on the computer].

What I like about etchings is that it a popular art form [i.e. art form for the people], it is bucolic.

More and more, I touch up the images in Photoshop; I tinker with certain bits, I clean it up. But you get tempted into cleaning it up too much, and what is great about using this technique is that some accidents occur. You don’t want to get rid of all of them, but you don’t want too many either.

That’s it. It has not printed very well.

I don’t know whether I’ll alter it much. I might work on the child’s face again, because it is central to the piece and people will comment he looks mean or angry. He mustn’t look too happy, but then he can’t look sad either. Sometimes adding a teeny bit of white changes everything. But apart from that, I won’t change much, I might even leave the effect that the bad printing has created, especially as there will be a panel with the typography on it which will cover most of it.”


My thanks again to Sophie, Fred and Mélanie, and to Pascal Bordenave for originally creating the video.

3 Responses

  1. Library Mice

    A few years ago Rachel Bright was at FCBG conference and she showed a video of how she does her etchings and printing. I find it fscinating, possibly because I am so un-artistic that I am in awe of anybody who can even think of creating artwork that way!
    Library Mice recently posted..Guinea Pigs Online

  2. Rainbow Prams

    I just love the colours that she brings to her drawings, you can never look at these images just once or you will miss something! x

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