Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Illustrators Arise: Nathalie Ragondet

Hello, people! So I'm back in trying to attempt the Illustrators Arise feature a monthly column. If you're puzzled as to what it is, it's basically a feature where I interview some of my favourite illustrators from all over the world. This month I am introducing an illustrator whose work I've seen floating around tumblr quite recently. Please give a warm welcome to the magical Nathalie Ragondet!

A: Hi, Nathalie! Thanks so much for the opportunity.  First of all, could you please tell our readers a little bit about who you are and what you do? 

N: Hi Bivi and Bivi’s blog readers. I am a French illustrator based in Lyon. After 4 years of studies in the Applied Arts School Emile Cohl, I started working in illustration, mainly for children's books (Flammarion Père Castor, Fleurus, Usborne…).

A: Why did you want to be an illustrator?

N: I never really thought or planned to be an illustrator before my last year in high school. I simply followed what I felt like doing and decided to study Applied Arts after my art teacher told me I should consider working in that domain. I liked drawing but, without him, I don’t know if I would have made a career in illustration that soon. I visited some art schools and I rapidly felt at ease with the idea of working in that domain is so varied, manual and creative.

A: Which are your most prized works so far?

N: None in particular, I am very critical about my work, each project gives me new ideas or improvement for the future. Sometimes I have the feeling to have made a step while doing an illustration, even if I am not satisfied with the illustration, the fact that I understood or discovered something new make it more special than the others.

A: Do you prefer to work digitally or traditionally and which materials do you usually use?

N: Both techniques have its advantages, but I still prefer working traditionally with watercolors, inks, gouaches and pencils. You can’t always control these techniques, it can be tricky but I like the way it surprises me sometimes.

A: If you have to choose between commissioned works, personal projects and competitions, which would you choose?

N: If I had enough time I would do everything! For the moment I usually choose commissioned works first and then, if I have some time, work on personal projects or for competitions. I like to discover new stories, new themes, and think of how I could translate them into images.

A: Are there any artists who inspire you?

N: Yes, just to name some : Ivan Gantschev, Carson Ellis, Lisbeth Zwerger, Jill Barklem, Quentin Blake, Kitty Crowther, Marc Boutavant, Marion Montaigne, Raphaële Barbanègre, Emile Bravo, Nicolas Marlet, Tomi Ungerer, Sempé, Franquin, Klimt... and others…

A: Do you have any goals you want to reach as an illustrator?

N: I would like to be more confident with my work, I have the feeling I am still looking how I would enjoy my work the best, which style I should use, which technique… I am not planning anything special otherwise, there is a lot of possibility in Illustration, there are many things I would like to do or try.

A: If you weren't an illustrator, what would you be?

N: I would be pastry cook, taste everything and be very fat :D

A: All right, thank you for your time! One last thing: what kind of advice would you give novice illustrators out there?

N: Well, we all have different stories, it is hard to give some global advices…maybe remember that we are each learning at a different speed, it’s not always working as we would like, when we would like, it can be difficult sometimes, but if you are motivated, if you pay attention at what is said about your work, if you are curious, you’ll find a place where you can enjoy yourself.

Part of the collective project "Jeanne"
"An Extraordinary Christmas" ("Un Noël Extraordinaire") for Delcourt
Pocket map for Geneva tourist offices
What is so incredibly immaculate about Nathalie's style: There is this inevitable harmony between the colours she chooses, the materials she uses and the lines she strokes. It creates a soothing feel as well as eerie atmosphere, accordingly. Yet, she can still work rather well with geometric structures and inject soft pastel-like colours into each object. The best part is, she illustrated children's fairy tale books, which is a suitable situation, given the fact that her works always seem rather magical - but not in a sparkly, Disney-princess kind of way, thank God.

"A Little Princess" ("La Petite Princesse") by Frances H. Burnett

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to stop by her website. Also, check out the previous feature here.

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