Friday 05, 06.2015

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

Ëlodie is a fashion illustrator living in Paris. Just like the city she lives in, her work is a combination of poetry and realism.

Her illustrations are all about beauty, in pastel colors and intricate textures, as she combines the digital with the traditional.

Her collaborations include brands like Nina Ricci, Rochas, Givenchy, L’Oreal and Victoria’s Secret and magazines such as Elle, Marie-Claire, Cosmopolitan and her work has been exhibited in USA, Europe and Australia. Before becoming a freelance illustrator five years ago, Ëlodie has worked in several companies of 3D cartoon animation.

I love to draw feminine and delicate illustrations with a touch of poetry and I always been attracted by faces, especially eyes

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

Have you studied illustration, or are you self taught? 

Since I remember I always drew. So after my degree, I naturally opted for a School of Visual Communication (ECV, Bordeaux). During four years I learned different drawing techniques, but also Graphic Design, 2D and 3D Animation and Web Design. All the knowledge is still very helpful everyday in my illustrator life.

Why did you choose fashion/beauty illustrations? What attracted you to it? 

Oh that was very natural 🙂 I love to draw feminine and delicate illustrations with a touch of poetry and I always been attracted by faces, especially eyes. I remember filling pages and pages of eyes when I was young. Besides, fashion has always been a great source of inspiration for me. I often incorporate some fashion accessories that fit the spirit of my girls in my illustrations. For example in my last illustration, “Jenny 2015”, who is a modern version of the hippie Jenny Curan in Forrest Gump, I put some Pamela Love rings on her fingers and a Chloé blouse that fit perfectly the hobo/poetic style of my ‘Jenny 2015’.

You work traditionally, but you’ve also experimented with other techniques. What are they?

Most of the time I start drawing traditionally and then colorize my illustration digitally. But sometimes I need to push myself beyond the limits of my style to make it evolve.

A few months ago I created a serie of 3 watercolor illustrations based on Karlie Kloss almost entirely digitally. I scanned some beautiful watercolors stains and mixed them digitally playing with light. It was very fun to do something completely different with almost no drawing at all.

I draw most of the time with a pencil or a pigment liner. After that I scan my drawing and start colorize it digitally in Photoshop

Let’s talk about creating an illustration from scratch. How does that process look, for you? How do you start, what steps do you follow?

When I work for a client, most of the time it’s simple: I get a brief that I need to stick to (subject, size, colors and references of illustrations in my portfolio for the colorisation). But for a personal illustration I use to think a lot (maybe too much) before starting a new piece: Which size, composition, colors, theme, atmosphere, technique etc…

Then I start looking for inspiration on the internet (Pinterest is a great source for it). For me this process can last several hours until I have a click. Then I actually start building my illustration by mixing photos together. The most difficult part is to stick to what I decided at the beginning! Then the ‘production’ step begins: Drawing most of the time with a pencil or a pigment liner. After that I scan my drawing and start colorize it digitally in Photoshop (you can see a step by step video here).

What kind of projects did you use to work on, in the beginning?

In the beginning I mostly worked for private portrait commissions and French magazines. Some of them weren’t very famous so I didn’t get a lot of money from these jobs at the beginning.

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

You came to a point where you get to create art for brands like Nina Ricci, Laduree or Rochas and magazines like Elle, Marie-Claire and Cosmopolitan. How did you get here? How did you first start these collaborations?

The most complicated part in this job is to get the contacts. Especially in Advertising. For this part I think an agent is very helpful. My agent spends a lot of time doing prospection in agencies which is something I wouldn’t have the time for. Some of the Advertising jobs I get come from my agent. Other clients discover my work online and contact me or my agent directly.

The collaborations with magazines – how do they work? Are they a regular collaboration, or one-time pieces?

I had several collaborations in the past with BE magazine, Glamour Spain and this year with Votre Beauté magazine. But most of the time it’s a one-time piece.

I would love to know more about the work you did for fragrance brands. How does it work?

For Rochas, I had a detailed brief with the template of the packaging, the color theme. The perfume ‘Cascades de Rochas’ was about Iris so I had to illustrate those flowers in different techniques and also the egery of the brand, Olivia Palermo. The range of perfumes was composed of several fragrances but I just made a test for ‘Songe d’Iris’. Unfortunately the test wasn’t accepted by the client at the final step but it was a very interesting experience. It’s part of the game to work in competition with other illustrators and photographs for big projects like this.

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

In the morning I work on my brand: coding for my sites, designing new business cards, taking pictures of my drawings to promote on social networks, sending newsletters and in the afternoon I mostly draw or colorize a new illustration in Photoshop

I notice you have a great personal brand (and not many artists do). You use Ëlodie as your name (very catchy and easy to remember) and your website is very well done. Could you share a little bit about how you worked to build your image?

Thank you. Yes, I realized how it’s important to build a solid styled brand to be recognizable among the many illustrators. It’s very time consuming, but for me it’s not a problem because I love that!

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

Especially I love graphic design and coding for my website, sometimes it changes from drawing and avoids routine! 🙂 I learned to do this in school so it’s nice to be able to use this knowledge in my job too. As I said it takes a lot of time to manage all the branding especially since I spent several weeks recently to build a new responsive website (a friend of mine was very helpful when I was stuck) and re-design my blog and shop, so now I find useful to split my day in 2 parts. In the morning I work on my brand: coding for my sites, designing new business cards, taking pictures of my drawings to promote on social networks, sending newsletters (those tasks demand more concentration) and in the afternoon I mostly draw or colorize a new illustration in Photoshop.

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

In the beginning I used the pseudo Miss Firefly and then Luciole art (ahah now I found those pseudos so childish!). Then I changed for Ëlodie which is more simple because it’s my real name, except I added the umlauts on the Ë to make a difference between my brand and me.

I always have new ideas for promotion so I use to write down all of them in a little notebook: On the left page I write down ideas about ‘BRANDING’ (ideas of promotion, modification on my website, blog…) and on the right page I write my ‘WORKS’ ideas (project for exhibition, collaborations). Unfortunately the pages are filling too fast and I’m not able to do all of these tasks ahah!

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

I always have new ideas for promotion so I write them down in a little notebook: left page – ideas for ‘BRANDING’ and right page – ideas for ‘WORK’

You are working with two agents who represent you. Do you find this necessary, for an illustrator? How is that helping you?

Yes. My agent is Colagene, they represent me in Europe, Canada and United States. I also have an agent in Australia, The Drawing Arm. I think it’s very necessary to have an agent if you plan to work in advertising. Most of the big projects are held by advertising agencies who prefer working with an agent who is able to propose several styles of illustration rather that only one illustrator with a particular style. Even if an artistic director likes your work, it doesn’t mean that he will make you work right now, because your style must fit with the brief of his client.

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

I think it’s necessary to have an agent if you plan to work in advertising.

A little bit about the business side of things 🙂 Many artists have a problem when it comes to setting a value for their work. How did you learn how much to quote for your illustration projects?

Ahah that’s a tricky part. I forgot to mention that my agent will do all the work of discussing and quoting with the client, which is very helpful too.

I can only tell you about Fashion illustration in edition and advertising which is very different from child books, for example. The cost of an illustration is separated in two parts : the cost of production: Depending on how much time you spend on it, 400 – 500 euros for a A5 and 800 – 1000 euros for a A4 etc…

The cost of the rights: That’s the difficult part to quote because it depends on how your illustration will be used: which mediums? If magazines, how many; internet, TV, which territories? For how long etc… The rights of an illustration always belong to the illustrator. When you sell the rights of your illustration for a specific time, area… it’s exactly like a renting, so it’s very important to discuss with your client to know exactly how he wants to use it.

There is an online tool called Calkulator that might be helpful.

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

When you sell the rights of your illustration for a specific time and area, it’s exactly like a renting, so it’s very important to discuss with your client to know exactly how he wants to use it.

They say that no matter how successful you are, you always find new things to learn, new challenges. What is the latest major thing you learned?

I realize day after day, more and more, that working all by myself at home doesn’t mean I work alone. I have several social pages and I receive a lot of comments and emails every day. They are so encouraging and very helpful especially when I have some doubts about my work, and when I feel guilty not to be able to do all the tasks I wrote down in my little book 🙂

I try to answer all of them with honesty, because I think it’s also very important to show the human side of my brand/job, which is why I plan to share more pictures of myself on my websites soon and maybe videos, I’ll see ! 🙂

Fashion Illustration: Interview with Ëlodie

See more of Ëlodie’s work on her: website | tumblr | behance | facebook | instagram

About Miruna

Hi, my name is Miruna Sfia. I'm 28 and I'm a self-employed graphic designer and illustrator living in Bucharest, Romania. I created Friday Illustrated because I wanted to be able to learn from some of the best people in my industry.

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