Nature, insects & discoveries
We met illustrator Aude Villerouge when her first book was published to go over what she’s up, what she wants and her many engagements. We talked about the colour green but that wasn’t all. Aude told us about what inspires and influences her, her meeting with Jacqueline Duhême, giving form to the Restos du Cœur greetings card, and she talked to us about her plant projects and bestiary of bugs book.
*bestiary of bugs
to colour in, dream about
Aude Villerouge’s first book is a collection of black and white insect drawings. Images to colour in, or not, which are filled with details made with a firm stroke of her pen. It will be available on 1 November 2019, published by Solo ma non troppo, with a book signing event being organised in a Paris bookshop for the occasion, where you can chat with Aude, and perhaps take away a drawing posing as a signature.
Les Éditeurs Associés – 11, Rue de Médicis – 75006 Paris
In the short bio of your Instagram account, you call yourself a “Nomad Image Creator”. Can you tell us more about this concept?
It comes from Jacqueline Duhême, a great French illustrator who is 91 years old now. I had the chance to meet her at the Forney library in Paris, during a retrospective of her work last summer. There was a sentence in the exhibition above one of her paintings that really spoke to me: “Illustrator? I don’t like this word since Éluard pointed out how ugly it is to me. It’s just too much for your mouth. So he came up with the term “image creator” for me! I like that better. I give form to images…”
I thought that the expression was really nice and could really relate to it, because it’s true that we create images. I had the chance to be able to talk with her, it was a wonderful moment. Shortly after I went on a trip, during which I was going to draw, so I said to myself that I would be a “Nomad Image Creator”. It’s a really important term for me, which has had a lot of impact on my choices and desires.
How would you describe your work? What has influenced you?
I mainly work around the world of fauna and flora. I like drawing birds and the patterns of their feathers for example. And I highlight species that are in danger of becoming extinct to express something a bit deeper. I worked with Posca recently on a store presentation display unit and included a pangolin, anteater and an otter, endangered species that evoke this threat.
I also like what Emmanuelle Houdart does a lot, who’s published several books. She works around a motif, similar to what I do, and she outlines in black like me. And I like the work of the duo SupaKitch and Koralie, I like it in terms of how it looks and the gestures. Motifs are a gesture for me that I repeat and that do me good. When I create, I draw mindfully and the repetition means I get completely into my technique.
You also get involved in social and environmental causes, particularly for the Restos du Cœur…
Yes, I did their 2019 greetings card. A friend worked in the communications team for the Restos, and I offered to do a greetings card for the charity, for free of course, and they accepted. I drew a stag, which represents renewal, as it sheds antlers each year and they grow back. Through branching the antlers I showed different actions the Restos do, which isn’t just food banks. And I added their logo respecting their graphic charter.
Today I have the chance to make a living from my work as an illustrator and I’d like it to have a purpose, so I get involved in causes that mean a lot to me on a volunteer basis. When I did the greetings card it gave me a feeling of well-being, and I find that very gratifying. even if it’s just a simple drawing.
I also care about the environment a lot and I’ve just launched a new project: “Let’s make Paris green with drawings too”. To get it underway, I piggybacked the Le Champ des surprises event organised by the La Ruche qui dit Oui on the place de La République. I painted a plant composition on canvas all day. I had a lot of positive feedback from passers-by, it was super interesting to see their interest in the subject, and to try to add a bit of freshness in a world of concrete. Basically, the field of possibilities is open and whoever likes this project scatters it!
There’s also a photo of you in customising an oil drum on the beach…
Yes, I discovered the Les bidons de compagnie association thanks to something published in the Posca website, and I found it super nice and fun! I totally support the idea! You get an oil drum, customise it and use it to collect rubbish on the beach. So I did it on holiday at Batz-sur-Mer las summer.
You also have a book that’s being published at the beginning of November, how did you do it?
I started by illustrating Jean de La Fontaine’s fables, a great classic, in black and white. It’s very rich and a lot of the characters are animals. There’s a direct link with Nature, which is the main reason it interested me. I showed my illustrations of the fables to the publisher Solo ma non troppo, and they loved a drawing of the Cricket and the Ant. So they suggested I do a book that would be a bestiary of insects. I love insects, they’re part of the endangered fauna. This project allowed me to draw attention to the environment and ecology. It’s my first publication and it’s called the bestiary of bugs.
And is there a project that you want to do?
I like the Andersen fairy tales a lot, and there’s one I really like that I’ve dreamt of illustrating for years, and that’s The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep. They’re statues, of a shepherdess and a chimney sweep, and once everyone has left, they come to life. This is the fairy tale that was the basis of the animated film The King and the Mockingbird by Grimault and Prévert, which I’ve loved it since I was really young. It’s a really important reference for me.
There’s also a native American tale I’ve wanted to illustrate for a long time, and that’s the hummingbird’s tale, told by Pierre Rabhi, that tells the story of a fire in the forest. While birds fly away to escape, a tiny hummingbird goes to get a drop of water from the river and drops it on the fire, and in seeing what it’s done the other birds do the same, and with every one doing their part, the fire finishes by going out.
Green and multitudes of green are intense in your drawings…
It’s been my favourite colour since I was young. I think it’s just because it’s the colour of nature, even if it’s not very original! Chlorophyll is a nice word! And to point out a detail, I always draw my characters and animals with green eyes. And to make the green stand out, I use its opposite corner which is red, and which allows me to create strong contrasts. Incidentally my favourite Posca is Sea Green, which came out at the same time as the coral one. I also have a collection of red and green things, and it’s true that I’m wearing a green and red shirt today!