ITW – Gwendoline Blosse, a multifaceted artist…
Gwendoline Blosse is an illustrator, a graphic designer, a comic book writer, even a wrestler… A multi-faceted artist, her hand dances to the rhythm of her projects.
Hi Gwendoline! You studied in Nantes and still live there today; what drew you to this beautiful town (one that is also very important for OLOW)?
I moved here to study, but it was also a good excuse to be closer to Brittany, where I was born but where I had never lived. Since then, ten years have flown by, and what I found great about this place then was that you could do whatever you wanted (that might be less true now). Create an association, organise concerts in an apartment, organise a festival, open an artists’ squat, create activist events, do wrestling, drawing, etc. I arrived here from a small town in the South of France that was rather right-wing, and I admit that my arrival in Nantes was incredibly inspiring. Since then, the town has changed and the stakes have shifted. I find that the “cultural amusement” back then has made way for growing socio-political struggles… Doom and gloom have taken over. What’s happening on the political scene is very stressful… But I’m straying from the question! I like Nantes for its weather, its estuary, its river and its clouds!
You draw many different characters; where do you find the inspiration behind each one?
A long time ago, I ran a satirical blog where I drew the daily life in Nantes (its parties, associations, shops…), and I tried to slip some friends or acquaintances in my stories by caricaturing them. It was kind of successful. As time went on, I realised that what interested me the most wasn’t to portray them perfectly using an incredibly realistic style, but each of their distinctive signs. It’s all about the details, and expressions instantly change with every move. An arched eyebrow, a slightly sloping lip, the shadow of an eyelid, the slight grin in a cheek, the tilt of the head, a big jaw, a long nose, etc. But there’s more… there’s also the variation of the stroke. It won’t have the same effect whether it’s fine or bold. So I like playing around with all that. I often start with a face and shoulders, and then vary. Sometimes a photo found on the internet, newspapers, an exhibition, or a painting will give me ideas, like a posture or an action. If I had not seen that picture of a boxer’s profile, I wouldn’t have seen hearts instead of his gloves. It all comes down to viewpoints, interpretation and timing.
It looks like you mainly use a graphics tablet to create your illustrations; could you describe your creative process?
When I have an image in mind, I research the internet, I try to find that particular bulldozer model, that variety of cactus or the posture of that football player. And then I create. A close-up? Maybe that wheel is interesting but not the rest of the truck? I really like how she’s leaning back on her chair… but it’s really just about her posture, not her physique or her gender or her environment… You make a rough draft, and then you go over it by evening out the strokes or by concentrating on details, etc. The advantage of using digital is that you can experiment with a lot of things. But you have to keep in mind that it’s not the software that makes you creative, you have to first do observational drawings and work hard to finally be at ease with the tool. Sometimes you realise that your idea is too far-fetched or too complicated: so you either concentrate on what’s essential, and if it still isn’t working (you can generally quickly tell whether an image is good or not) you give up, get thinking again, and start over. I sometimes have to go over and over an eye, a mouth, or even a hand, looking for that exact expression.
You often use bold colours in your creations, how do you go about choosing which ones to use?
For a long time, colour stressed me out; I even had books on how to match shades. It constrained me, blocked me, frustrated me, I found my drawings to be shy, not adventurous, not radiant. And then one day I updated my graphics tablet and realised that I could draw directly on my computer! From then on I felt liberated, no more scanning, no more hours spent tidying things up with a rubber, I could create a drawing in one go, spontaneously. But the best thing was being able to experiment with the RGB colour coding, which really reconciled me with colour. I could try out loads of things. I still find it crazy! Other than that, I don’t really have a method for choosing colour. Sometimes I apply the three-colour rule, or a dominant tone with its variants and a saturated colour, etc. I also like using white as a colour, which I never used to before. For me, white was the paper, full stop. I couldn’t fathom using a coloured background. Now, thanks to my tablet, I realise that it’s interesting to use one.
How long have you been drawing for? We can feel a true evolution in your work: how can you explain it?
Since I was a kid, like many children… But I have only just felt comfortable doing what I do for the past four or five years. But that’s not innocuous, everything started after a family tragedy, I think I was angry, I had no more stakes and didn’t care about anything anymore. Which just goes to show that your history, your personality has a knock-on effect on your creative process. It seems obvious now.
You are part of a particular club from Nantes, the “Catch de dessinateurs à moustache”. Can you tell us a bit about this project?
I don’t know what you’re talking about. Apparently I’m Carmen Vegas… but don’t believe all that you read. After a seven-year career, Carmen Vegas retired somewhere in Latin America, she has apparently been seen rearing goats with her friend El Pepito.
On a ring, two artists battle it out during a two-round match creating two large drawings whose theme has been chosen by the audience. At the end of the fight, they pick the best composition. With each new dual, the drawings get bigger and bigger, the pace quickens, cheating and sanctions increase, during which the audience grows more and more feverish by the minute. The members of the audience whose subjects were drawn by the referee leave with the drawings. The arthletes (artists/athletes) put their all into graphic improvisation on themes put forward by the public, with, at times, special hits, constraints and fatal hits. The mustachioed wrestling illustrators put on a two-hour, ultra violent and good-mannered show that rivals even the biggest American superproductions.
What’s the most beautiful trip you have ever taken?
I’d day Cambodia. My father lives there, and I’m now lucky to have a French/Khmer half brother, so that trip will always be the most beautiful.