We have known Laura for quite some time and so have you! If you were with us when we launched our Kickstarter in 2013, you will remember her from our very first videos. Illustrator and comic book author, she knows the Slate by heart and tells us all about her artistic career.
I. Mademoiselle Zim, illustrator
Hi Laura ! Can you tell us about your work as an illustrator, your profile and your style?
Hello ! I started working as a freelance illustrator 3 years ago. Originally, I was also a graphic designer but I have now left that aside to fully concentrate on my illustration work. I studied fine arts in university in Montpellier in France. These were good years for social and festive reasons, but I honestly did not learn much technically speaking. Fortunately, I had created a comics blog two years prior and it allowed to practice a lot.
It all started with Pénélope Bagieu’s blog, which I discovered in 2007. I fell in love with the concept and read everything at once. I decided to do the same and talk about my life through an illustrated blog. I tried to be disciplined, to draw on a regular basis and it made me disconnect from university! It was definitely a huge experimenting process.
So you learned illustration mostly by yourself?
Yes, I am self-taught on many levels. I have always drawn and it took me a while to find my own style. It is definitely one of the hardest things to do. But nothing is set in stone, my style will keep on evolving. I still have my blog but I don’t post drawing on it anymore because I don’t have time. Unlike Pénélope, who apparently took only 15 minutes per blog post, I need 3 hours for each. It clearly wasn’t going to be viable in the long run.
Tell us about your beginnings:
One week after finishing university, I was hired by a publishing house in Grenoble. I spent 6 months doing graphic design mostly. It was quite difficult technically and as the company was very small, I had no mentor. After this job, I questioned a lot of things and had a big period of doubts: should I continue drawing. I eventually decided to take the leap and create my company.
It started very slowly. At first I would take orders from my friends, as I had already drawn for them here and there. One of the projects I am still quite proud of is the logo I created for the roller club of Grenoble – which they are still using today! At the time, I just drew in exchange for some goodies and gifts.
But very quickly, I was contacted by the Grenoble Business School. The technology and strategy management director was looking for someone to create comics of company case studies for the students. This is how I started working there. Having the same age as the students was a real plus as I had the same references and the same of way of speaking.
Where are you now?
Well I have finished my job there a few months ago and in 2017 I am now passing the torch. The illustrated case studies taught me a lot for three years but now that my freelance work is taking off I am ready to move on and dedicate myself 100% to it. I have managed to create a good network and hope to continue like this!
How would you define the work of an illustrator?
I think it’s quite a complicated job. You need to find the right rhythm and have a certain discipline. You also need to be motivated, have projects and things to accomplish. It was more comfortable for me when I had something else on the side, now I have to do my accounting and manage my clients. In addition, working from home means learning to avoid all the distractions. Having a room dedicated to work in my flat was such a big plus – especially compared to my tiny old studio! I think the ideal thing would be a freelance artist studio.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Although I have tried to break from it, people have always told me that my style was quite manga. It’s probably due to the amount of manga I have read that have fascinated me. Now I try to develop my own style but for a long time I’ve copied Miyazaki or others.
In terms of comic book artists from Europe, I have a thing for Alessandro Barbuchi and Barbara Kanepa. I discovered them when I was 13 in the comic book Witch that appeared in the french teen magazine Minnie. It changed my life and I would re-read it constantly.I have to say I teared up a little when I met them at the Book Fair of Montpellier. I recommend their book Skydoll – you can tell how much they have grown in terms of technique!
There is of course Pénélope Bagieu I was speaking about earlier, a real pioneer in the world of comic blogging. Her force is her sense of humor: everyone can relate to it. I was not completely in love with her style at first, but her humor got me hooked – I totally found myself in her video games or TV show references. And she has evolved so much as well. I found her album “California Dreamin” really wonderful: it is entirely sketched out with raw pencil.
In more recent artists, I love Bryan Lee O’Malley who created Scott Pilgrim for his style and humor.
I also need to talk about video games, especially Final Fantasy. I draw a lot of women to be able to dress them and create crazy outfits. I would love to be a a character designer for video games, in Ubisoft for example. But I was never brave enough to send them anything!
In comic blogging, there is also Margaux Motin with her cruder humor. I have followed her love story with french illustrator Pacco. Both of their styles have evolved a lot, as if they had merged together. The kind of story that gives butterflies!
II. Laura and the Slate
Tell us about your relationship with the Slate.
It’s quite the story! I have known the Slate since its very beginnings. Working at the Grenoble Business School I had to create a comic book page about iskn and how the startup was launched. I made my research, drew the members and they quickly learned about it. Lydie (Marketing Manager at iskn) called my one day to tell me they enjoyed it and that they were looking for someone for a short film. This is how I ended up in the first iskn film. My life quickly became the Business School and iskn!
What seduced me on the Slate? The fact that it is so small, so compact and so cheap in comparison to some graphic tablets. Being able to draw on paper and avoid using a scanner is awesome. I really love the timelapse feature as well. I have a lot friends who like watching me draw. When you’re the one drawing, you don’t really see what you’re doing. The ability to be able to view the process is really thrilling. I don’t have an iPad so I was also really excited when the PC app came out!
“I think the Slate completely fulfills its proposition: an instantaneous digital copy of my paper drawing,a timelapse of the creation and the ability to take it everywhere with me.”
What do you think about the Slate 2 and the graphic tablet mode, that allows you to use it on any software like Photoshop?
Well for knowing the very first product and software versions, I have to say that the evolution is mind blowing. The first time I used Imagink I thought “Wow the interface is so beautiful!” In terms of performance, the Slate has improved tremendously. As for the graphic tablet mode, I love using it because my favorite software is Photoshop. I feel more comfortable than ever, being able to finish up my drawing with my old habits.
For me the ideal use of the Slate is for sketching. I have to say the pencil brush on Imagink is just incredible. It doesn’t exist on Photoshop or you would have to create it, what a nightmare! So for sketching or creating the basis of an illustration, the tool is ideal.
III. Laura’s projects
What projects are you most proud of at the moment?
I would say they are the personal projects I have not completed just yet! I have one in particular at the moment. About a year ago, I was working as a hostess to earn some extra money and I had time to kill. So I spent hours scribbling on post its and one day, Tombie was born. Tombie is a young girl wearing a skirt, skateboard shoes and short hair. I started drawing her life, her friends and creating her whole world on my blog. She’s 13, she likes skateboarding and playing video games, people make fun of her at school because they call her a “lesbian/tomboy”. And out of the blue, friends showed keen interest in her on social media. I wasn’t going to take it further than that but I got so much positive feedback that I decided to write her story in a comic book. I have now been working on it for over a year, imposing myself several hours of writing everyday. And though I can draw, I am no scriptwriter. I had a quite a lot of blank page moments and sudden bursts of inspiration. Guilhem really helped me because he has a real talent for telling stories. He remains my only reader until now and I would eagerly watch for his reactions. Whenever I saw a smile or he would start laughing, I would be so happy. So Tombie is my top priority at the moment. I am a little frightened to get the opinion of professionals my I have to go for it and avoid the trap of always wanting to improve my work without ever finishing it.
And I will do everything I can to get to fulfill my ultimate dream: having my first comic book “Tombie” in a major book store…