Héloïse Laloux: As strong as a bear and smart as a fox

Héloïse Laloux will draw live during the second edition of our “Apéros Culturels” on Tuesday 27th June.  Get to know more about her with this interview!


Airplane Mode: What is your personal, professional, artistic background?

Héloïse Laloux: I’ve just had my bachelor degree at the ERG (Ecole de Recherche Graphique/Graphical research School) a year ago, with a specialization in illustration-comic strip drawing. Consequently, I can’t speak about professional experience, but drawing was always present in my life. When I was younger, I took multidisciplinary classes at the Braine-l’Alleud Art school for 10 years, even if I was more interested by dramatic art and performing arts in general. Since the end of my studies, I principally work on my graphic story project, “Histoire du Brizzly et de l’Isalis”.

A.M: When did you get this passion for drawing?

H.L: I’m drawing since I am a child, it seems normal for me to draw. As soon as I had some spare time, I was taking my pens to draw everything that was coming to my mind. By the time, I discovered other drawing technics, with charcoal, watercolor, acrylic etc… I was mostly drawing to spend time, but I was not trying to improve myself.

In fact, I realized the importance of drawing only around 20 years old, when I was studying in order to become school teacher. Most of our class works required some creativity as we had to create our own board games, storybooks, that kind of stuff. However, I was spending whole nights illustrating them while it was not the most important aspect of the process (regarding the studies program) but it was the most important for me, and it was actually what I wanted to do. With this in mind, it appeared clear to me that I had to study illustration drawing so I started my studies at the ERG a year later.

A.M: What are your main sources of inspiration?

H.L: Tales, myths and legends are very appealing for me. Their timeless dimension is very interesting because it allows you to set them up in any context or universe, more or less relevant. I am also very interested by human connections as they can be wonderful or chaotic. I think tales depict a disconcerted, intriguing and mysterious humanity. Regarding my work, I would like to turn upside down the received ideas people can have about children or, on the contrary, adult stories. I usually like elaborating dreamlike universes, strange and poetic, as well in the illustration as in the text.

A.M: Are there drawers who inspired you a lot in the way you’re drawing?

H.L: I don’t know what it is regarding my pencil stroke but I think I was profoundly amazed by the way comic strip drawers like Shaun Tan, Manu Larcenet, Cyril Pedrosa or Nicolas de Crécy elaborate their own universe. I also really love the poetry in Rebecca Dautremer’s books and Joann Sfar’s sense of humour.

A.M: How would you describe your style?

H.L: That’s a difficult question to answer! It varies according my stories. It can be delicate and poetic or on the contrary quite rougher and darker. Whatever the story is, I always try to create atmospheres with a strong visual impact and some mystery.

A.M: What do the figures of the bear and fox represent for you? (According to « l’histoire du Brizzly et de l’Isalis »)

Couverture Brizzly&IsalisH.L: The characteristics of the bear figure were easy to set for Brizzly as it is directly inspired from a real person whom many things remind me of a bear, both physically and mentally. The name  “Brizzly” is a mix the word “grizzly” and the first name of this person. Regarding the Isalis, it was more complicated because I didn’t know which animal I wanted to represent. Then I looked for something of which both character and graphic would suit the one of Brizzly. After some tests, I stuck with the vixen. According to me, they go well together, Isalis is curious but also anxious and a bit over-excited. Brizzly is calm and solitary, he is patient and observing but also a bit clumsy.

A.M: Did you think about Andy Warhol for your “Défigurations” series or am I totally mistaken?

H.L: No. Do you say that because of the colors? Actually this serial works like a prism, every image is a facet of this prism but doesn’t mean the same thing as the next one. Together, they represent some sort of a distorted mental anatomy, an unconscious reflection of oneself. I used sharp and vivid colors because of their blinding glare. I consider this like a picture which will suddenly blow up over my face with all its vividness. There is also some kind of an aggression as well, regarding the colors I used.

A.M: Are you a traditional drawer or do you use new technologies like a graphic tablet or else as well?

H.L: More traditional for now. I’m drawing manually and then modify my pictures with Photoshop but I don’t master it as well as I would like to. I will take some courses next year in order to fill in my gaps as it might be useful to master these tools. It is sometimes necessary, in order to satisfy some demands.

A.M: Do you think you’ll live from your art one day?

H.L: I would love to, but I don’t know what tomorrow will be made of! If you ask me, I think it is really hard to live exclusively from your art. We have to manage on our own. For instance, I work part-time in a bookshop. It’s a good solution as it allows me to live decently while having time to draw. The most important is to do things we love even if it is not always artistic.

A.M: And you, when do you switch off to Airplane Mode?

H.L: When I’m drawing! I’m sometimes so much into my story that it’s complicated for people to approach me. I also love to stroll and have breaks in a park. I read comic strips or eat an ice-cream, barefoot in the grass!

Interview by Len