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Interview with illustrator Tallulah Fontaine

Thursday 10 November 2016
Words Spindle

Tallulah Fontaine‘s beautiful illustrations use gorgeous soft colours, but are nothing short of striking. Based in Toronto, Canada, she has created work for oh comely, the British Council, frankie Magazine, and VICE, for whom she is currently illustrating a column by Andrew W.K. She has produced and contributed to numerous zines, including ‘Home,’ which explores what this means to us, and the many ideas behind the concept. She has also worked with the band Purity Ring, designing artwork, tour posters and merchandise for them. Her work has a whimsical feel and captures the everyday in a beautiful light. The stunning characters she draws are instantly recognisable, as are the beautiful shades of blue, green and pink that often feature in her work. From her inspirations to her favourite commissions, we asked Tallulah to tell us more about her artwork.

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How would you describe your work and its style?

Soft minimalist watercolours and drawings.

What inspires you and makes you want to create?

For a long time I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to create my own work. I followed a few different paths before coming back to it and realising making artwork was the only thing that really centres me. I think the people in my life, my travels, and past memories are really what inspires me the most.

How did you develop your artistic style?

It’s been this sort of constantly evolving process. Materials have probably made the biggest difference. I started out in my early 20’s just making collages out of National Geographic’s and Life magazines that I collected in high school. Eventually I started drawing more and more with whatever I had around. So most of my older work is made with pencil crayon and ink. When I got more serious about it I started experimenting with watercolour and working digitally with a tablet a friend gave me. What a make now is a mixture of all of that, but I’m still learning and developing with each project.

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Do you have a favourite series or piece of your own work?

I released a short 10-page zine earlier this summer called ‘Everything Nice.’ It was my first ever attempt at making a comic and I also decided it should be wordless, which I found very challenging in the end. I put so much time and emotional labour into it but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. There’s some parts I would change and expand on but overall it was a really important learning experience for me. I plan to release it as part of a larger comic when I have more time to finish it.

You’ve created work for magazines, bands, brands, zines, books, even t-shirts – is there a form you most enjoy illustrating for?

There’s definitely more of a thrill when one of my pieces is printed over just having it up on a website. Picking up a new zine for the first time or getting to see people wear the t-shirts you’ve designed can be really satisfying. There’s no form in particular that I enjoy most, it still really depends on the project.

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Which commissions have you most enjoyed?

I was recently commissioned by the British Council of Canada to make an illustrated interpretation of a Shakespeare sonnet in celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary. I chose sonnet 43 and made two pieces inspired by the day and night sequence described in the poem. I had complete freedom to make whatever I wanted for this assignment and really enjoyed the process and how the final pieces came together.

You currently illustrate a column with Andrew W.K for Vice – tell us about that.

I do! Andrew has a new column with them and I was thrilled that he chose me to illustrate it. It’s my first time working for Vice or on a any kind of weekly. It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with him as well as editors Nick Gazin and Brian McManus.

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What other projects are you working on at the moment?

I have a few magazine editorials and commissioned projects on the go right now, but I’m also trying to make more time for personal work. I’m just completing some pieces for a group show called ‘Currents‘, put together by Forge magazine. It running from November 11th – December 3rd at World Money Gallery in Brooklyn.

Is there something you want to say or convey with your illustrations?

For my own work, I’m really only making it for myself without a conscious effort to convey anything specific to an outside audience. I think no matter what, people will have their own interpretations and project their own feelings onto whatever I do.

What’s your dream brief or project?

I’d love to collaborate on some larger conceptual work and art design. Maybe for a band or something fashion related.

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View more of Tallulah Fontaine’s work at tallulahfontaine.com.