Ladies and Gentlemen! Presenting the curious creations of Céline Guichard’s “twisted psychology”…
An interview with Céline Guichard by Heather McCalden.
Hi there. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your work. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Hi, I am Céline Guichard, I make images. I have published several books and participated to many exhibition. I live and work in the South-west of France.
Could you tell us about your creative process, from the initial idea to the finished piece?
I don’t have a particular process but I do have a practice. I draw and the images come out of this practice. I am always drawing, this is probably the most important thing. Outside of the drawing itself, there are critical moments, questioning. I sometimes feel the need for a change, whether it is the tool I’m using, the format, the subject….
What particularly appeals to you about working in graphite?
I like the simplicity of this tool and the numerous possibilities it offers. I can work lightly or force the line until it goes black. I can draw a very precise pattern or leave it very outlined.
How do you conceptualize/construct a piece? Do you think of it as a story, snapshot, or abstraction?
An image can emerge from words, sentences, graphic elements, signs or objects, memories…. I am really fond of “dessin automatique” (drawing without thinking).
I lay on my bed and let the picture come.
What other materials do you enjoy using?
I use almost everything: charcoal, nib, brushes, colour pencil, ballpoint pen. I have a preference for felt-tip pens.
What size do you tend to work at? Do you have a preferred scale?
I don’t have a favorite size. The tools usually naturally define the size of my work. For example if the drawings are intended for publications they are not bigger than a A3 because it’s the size of my scanner! When I use felt tips its very often on A4 or A5. Most of the charcoal work is usually done on a bigger scale, 120 x 80cm or more.
What’s your favourite subject-matter? What’s the particular attraction?
I mostly work on the human body, naked, twisted, hairy, androgynous, damaged. The faces are grotesque, contorted, cross-eyed, melancholic, ecstatic, contemplative characters are male-female and hermaphrodite. Strange couples. Monstrosities, 2 headed characters and switched limbs. Hybrid animals, animals/humans, animals/plants. Symbols: arrows, stars, position of the hands, links, wounds. I cannot explain my fascination for those.
What has most influenced and inspired your vision?
Everything influences me. If I have to find connections I think about painting or sculpture, roman and greek statues for example. The French or Fleming primitives, symbolists, expressionists.
Can you tell us about a favourite piece of yours, or a favourite creative experience?
During the summer 2014 I made a short movie, it was a carte blanche ordered by the channel Arte- about Hokusai. It was new for me, a sort of challenge because the deadline was very short. I had a month to make it so once I started there was no room for mistakes. It was stimulating and exotic. I filmed myself drawing in large format and then sped it up on screen. I also filmed some small live drawing scenes evoking Hokusai’s taste for popular culture.
What are you early memories of drawing like?
It’s me tracing my favourite cartoon characters: Candy Neige, Albator, Calimero…!
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Where do your creations come from? What gives you ideas?
My twisted psychology.
How do you develop ideas for books? How is this process different from when you’re working on smaller projects (singular images)?
My books are usually monographs, portfolios, books of images. Most of the time, the publishers ask me if I want to work with them. The printing technique such as silkscreen printing, engraving, offset, digital define the tool I will be using for the drawing.
Most of the time I have “carte blanche” for the subjects. I work freely everyday. When i feel that a full set can exist i make enough for an exhibition or a book.
Can you describe how childhood memories influence your work? What about dreams?
I spent my childhood in the countryside. Between 5 and 12 I lived in a sort of constant joy, a strong communion with nature and animals. I thought I had a special power–the power of understanding and talking with animals but also with the trees and streams. This period is the basis of my inspiration. I often write down my dreams. All those stories we create in our sleep are a great material. I sometimes use them as a starting point for my work.
Did you have a favourite bedtime story growing up? What were picture books that you loved as a child?
At my maternal grandmother’s house there was a Andersen’s story book illustrated by Jiri Trnka. His drawings really impressed me.
What interests you about abnormality? Or, The Strange?
Abnormality is my nourishment. I am always curious to see and to know what is “Ce qui est caché” (“hiding behind”). It has always been this way. We always hide what is different, what is not “normal”. I unveil those things hidden by the norm.
Right or left-handed?
Coffee, nicotine, or booze?
Fruits fruits fruits!
Last film you saw in the cinema?
Inherent Vice by Thomas Anderson.
What books are on your bedside table?
“Le Lys de Mer” by André Pieyre de Mandiargue.
Favourite city in the world?
I don’t know.
Favourite city to draw/sketch/illustrate/create in?
At home, in my studio.
What can we look forward to seeing from you next?
I just finished a bestiary for Ion Editions. It will be out in June 2015.
Keep up with Céline and see more of her work here: celineguichard.name.
Céline Guichard features in Issue 4 of Tiny Pencil: The Death & Resurrection Issue! Available to buy here.
This interview was brought to you by Heather McCalden and The Tiny Pencil – fine purveyors of the pencil arts. Follow us on twitter @TheTinyPencil, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram for the latest news on all of our new anthology artzines.