Briefly describe the work you do.
I’m a young French illustrator. I opened a blog in 2012 where I post a sketch a day mixing portraits, iconography, typography and animated Gifs in black and white. I mostly use digital tools and analog traditional techniques such as ink, pencil, watercolor, gouache or charcoal.
At the begining my project was a 365 day challenge but I’m still continuing it ! It’s a daily graphic experiment lab, a kind of extimate diary where I build my own visual archive. The result of this ongoing series is an illustrated cultural map named Daily Sketch Crossing (D*S*C)
Whenever it’s possible, I make collaborations and I show all my sketches in collective exhibitions.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I have various influences. My mother is french and my father is Cambodian.
Regarding my education, after reading a novel written by Jorge Luis Borges, I decided to learn more about Spanish literature and civilization. So I went to the university to get a Spanish degree. But at the same time, I wanted to learn more about art history, improving my artistic apprenticeship in order to get new skills. That’s why I went to a fine art school and I was graduated with honors.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I can’t stand being stuck in the same location. I don’t really need a studio for the moment. I can work anywhere I want ! Finally a sketchbook is a nice pocket nomadic lab! And anywhere I open up my laptop is my studio.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
You have to learn to love social media! Nowadays, being an artist also means basic knowledge of management to promote your work.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
When I have a big project I work constantly night and day! Nevertheless I’m a nocturnal bird and I definitely prefer working at night. It’s so silent and peaceful!
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Making art is like cooking or practicing yoga. You need daily training to achieve simplicity and efficiency. I try to evolve with the same determination and serenity as a turtle, keeping in mind what I like to do. As Pierre Soulage said « It’s what I do that teaches me what I’m looking for ».
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
When I was a kid, one of my aunts bought me a book of Henri Matisse. Then I began to reproduce what I saw all around me. I got interested in painting, I wanted to became a figurative painter! Nevertheless I terribly suck at coloring and I finally realized I prefer to draw in black and white.
About the impact of other artists, I usually pin what it inspires me on my pinterest board. There is an abundance of very talented artists on internet! More specifically I love autobiographical art. I think I need that art tells me stories about people.
I have also a huge admiration for Aby Warburg, a german art historian who attempted to build a visual Mnemosyne Atlas.
And right now I’m pretty impressed by the vitality of the independent publishers and zinesters scene !
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I am also interested in philosophy and linguistics. But art is a matter of focus and point of view, isn’t it? For me art is interdisciplinary, it can embrace all areas of reflection & creation. There is no boundaries.
Moreover, since my double jaw surgery, I’m particularly fascinated by the maxillofacial changes.
I enjoy exploring old human anatomy books !
Emmanuelle Ly is a young visual artist and freelance illustrator, based in Lyon, France. She studied spanish at the University of Burgundy. In 2011, she received a master degree of fine Arts from the Nationale Art School of Dijon. Since 2012, she posts a sketch a day on her blog focusing on the pop culture icons. She is paddling down an endless river of artistic inspiration illustrating a raw portrait of our society. She has showcased her artwork in various spaces, platforms and magazines.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.