Aude Bertrand attributes the narrative quality of her illustrations to her love of cinema. Based in Montpellier, France, the creative was trained in film before she even started studying illustration, but like most of her subjects, she tells us that she is “drawn since I was a kid… I’ve always done artistic activities for fun, whether it was music, video or photography, and drawing was a part of it.
“What I like about drawing is that it’s very instinctive, it has a great storytelling power, and it can be done anywhere.”
In addition to her illustration work, Bertrand has spent the last four years fighting for female filmmakers through the 11% project she started with her boyfriend. When it dawned on the couple that they had barely heard of any female instructors, they set about helping to fix it through an Instagram account (@lesonzepourcent), which shares posters for films directed by women. “In addition to making their work known to others, it is also a way for us to compensate for our lack of personal culture,” Bertrand says.
After graduating from art school two years ago, Bertrand has since built a work that is playful and whimsical, but with a clearly surreal edge: the sky assumes a deep peach-colored hue, houses are stripped back to four-walled cardboard-like constructions, and picture panels sits in larger compositions to create a feeling that is partly a graphic novel and partly a dream sequence.
What unites her work across illustrated card sets, self-portraits and gifs is a bold use of colors, handmade textures (currently thanks to Promarkers) and a clear ability to tell stories. “Like everyone else, I am nurtured by what I see, ”she says, crediting her love of movies and independent comics with informing the characters she draws and how she draws them.
She has also spent the last 18 months part-time in a children’s bookstore, “which is very inspiring because I’m surrounded by illustrated books all day!” It frees up the rest of her time to draw, giving her the choice to take on “projects that I like that are not in the regular publishing cycle,” she says.
It was during the lockdown that her lifelong love of cinema really found its way into her illustration. “I watched a lot of movies and redrawn my favorite scenes,” Bertrand explains. “At that time, I realized that there was a lot to learn from films about composition, color, light, the characters, their clothes, their hairstyles, the scenography, the props, the framing, the dialogue … I try to think of all that when I draw or write a story. ”
However, the idea of ”copying” what she sees on screen has not always been so easy for her to contend with. When she was young, she loved nothing more than to spend her summers copying drawings with her best friend. But the brilliance disappeared, thanks to the gradual infiltration of a particular form of creative self-doubt. “I had a kind of complex around copying because I felt that style and talent had to be innate, which was not the case for me,” Bertrand says. “I learned a lot by remaking, and still today, when I read comics or go to an exhibition, I spend a lot of time analyzing other people’s drawings to understand their technique.”
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