A quick leaf through any one of Laurent Moreau’s many filled sketchbooks and you’ll see that he finds inspiration in nature. Laurent enjoys more down-to-earth pleasures, gardening, sitting in fields, and it shows in his work. His images are full of decorative plants and animals drawn by someone who clearly has a passion for them. It is something he says emanates from his youth growing up in the French countryside.
There’s obviously nothing wrong with an artist working digitally, but it’s interesting to see someone who works almost exclusively in traditional materials and still creates something fresh and modern. Laurent prefers to work by hand, whether painting or printing. The experience of working in these materials is important to him, the smells of the ink, the tactility of the paper. It’s an intuitive way of working that really pulls out some beautiful results.
Laurent was kind enough to go into some depth about how he works and his path to being a professional artist.
I was born in Vitré, a little town near Rennes (Bretagne, France). I grew up in the countryside, among fields and trees. My childhood certainly is present in my work as an author-illustrator, but more in a subconscious way.
I’ve lived in Strasbourg for 7 years, where I took illustration classes at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs.
At high school, I used to draw a lot for myself. I met some people there who are still very important in my life now, who introduced me to some domains such as music, fanzines, writing … In that period, I went back to childhood libraries and I was surprised by how many beautiful book were there!
Later on, I did an internship in a little publishing agency in Paris, that allowed me to discover a lot of different books and illustrators such as Martin Jarrie, Blex Bolex, Sophie Dutertre, Jochen Gerner …
It was the Editions du Rouergue that contacted me for my first commission. I had to illustrate a children’s novel in black and white.
After high school, I studied art and graphic industries. I learnt the printing artcraft during 6 years. I really like printing techniques like engravings, silkscreen, tampon. I love to observe a book, to touch the paper and smell the ink, look at the textures …
Now, in my work as an illustrator or a graphic designer, when I realize an image, I perfectly know how it will be printed and which are the constraints. My work is influenced by my passion for printing as well: a limited range of colors, little dots, importance of the typography …
I love very different things. I observe what surrounds me, the people, the nature.
I don’t have preferred artists, but I love ancient paintings and books, contemporary art, popular imagery, art naïf, photography, graphic design.
Just to name a few, I’d say Goele Dewanckel, Raymond Depardon, Atak, Olle Eksell, Le Douanier Rousseau, John Fente, Saul Steinberg …
Typical work day
I usually arrive at 9 am, by bike, at the atelier that I share with 4 other illustrators ( La Rouge Porte ).
We all work in the same space, each at his work table.
I often start drawing a little for myself in a sketchpad and I check my mail drinking a coffee. I work on my personal projects or on commissioned work.
At midday, we have lunch all together, we chat and laugh.
I leave around 6 pm. There are days I work well, in which I’m happy, and other days in which I feel less satisfied … There are days of pleasure and days of doubt …
I draw a lot in sketchpads— ideas, research, personal drawings, that later on become useful for my book projects. I try to be spontaneous and quite simple and free. Anyway, I draw first of all for myself, before thinking those images will be seen by others.
I work almost only by hand, I’m not so at ease with the computer … So, I draw with pencils, I paint with gouache, I cut, I paste … I change techniques, I have no favorite technique: I like being spontaneous, I like the gesture, the line, little dots … I choose the technique according to the emotion arisen by a history.
I’m not at ease drawing from real life, I don’t sketch so much.
I love nature, it makes me feel good. I love being in the middle of fields, laying in the grass, looking closely at the leaf of a tree, a pebble.
I grew up in the countryside, that’s a good explanation of that …
I love all my books because they are all so different. The one I prefer showing is always the last one. This time, I work for a new book. The title is ‘Après’. With this one, I wanted to tell a story of one year of the life of a young boy. Each text begins with this word, “après”. This is about all the things that happen and go too quickly.
A lot of things: walking, gardening, playing and listening to music, reading, cooking … I just finished the novel ‘Demande à la poussière’ by John Fante that I really liked. At the moment, I’m listening to Real Estate, Motorama, At the Drive-In, Sharon Van Etten …
Among the movies I’ve seen quite recently, I particularly appreciated ‘Tomboy’ by Cécile Sciamma and ‘Les géants’ by Bouli Lanners.
© Laurent Moreau, 2013