Meet Celine Loup. Celine is a comic artist and illustrator living and working in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2010, and since has been working as a freelance illustrator and studio artist. Celine has participated in several Light Grey Art Lab exhibitions, such as Girls: Fact + Fiction and the Great Personality, and has worked for clients such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Mental Floss, The Chicago Reader, Scrubs, Flare, and more.
We are continually impressed and inspired by the work that Celine creates. Through this interview we get to see some of the behind the scenes work, sources of inspiration, favorite techniques, and the world behind her work- intimate, nostalgic, and fantastical scenes.
Could you tell us a little about your aesthetic. What are some of the biggest themes in your work, stories and themes motivate you, ways of making?
Those things that form the root of human experience, and especially the perspective of women, are what I'm drawn to most. Cyclical things like insect and plant life-cycles, the relationships between women, birth and death, and the fears that have always haunted us make the best stories. I look for common threads in the stories of other times and cultures, going as far back as I can, and see how I can make it personal again. I'm terrible at "slice of life" stuff!
My studio is where I come to work and reflect on what I want for myself- A sense of serenity and privacy is extremely important to me. My style is a reflection of my values, my memories and the way I perceive my surroundings---which I think is the case for every artist, and why it is so incredibly personal.
Sascha for the Great Personality Exhibition
For the Great Personality Exhibition, you were prompted with creating a character based on personality and allure. How did you approach this assignments and what considerations did you include in making the piece?
Is it cheating to say I based my character on my boyfriend? He fit the age and profile I chose very well. I'm sure my friends who know him don't even have to wonder! The character was supposed to be androgynous, so I femmed my drawings up hopefully enough to disguise my source. The character was supposed to be eccentric and have a flair for the dramatic, so I made sure to put them in clothes inspired by Julius, Junya Watanabe and Gareth Pugh ( I have a pinterest board for such things here).
Although you were a part of the character artists for the exhibition, you also include space and memory into your work. Could you talk about your relationship to place, travel, and location?
Context is everything. A beautiful body lying in a dumpster is going to (hopefully) arouse different feelings in the viewer than a beautiful body lounging in a tastefully done-up apartment. I'm really sensitive to place, and I get depressed if I'm surrounded by mess or tacky/garish things. Comfort, natural light, and cleanliness are a bare minimum requirement before considering the lowering of inhibitions needed to feel aroused, personally.
Grouper for The New Yorker
Do you have any techniques for generating ideas? Do you approach client, gallery, or personal projects differently?
I'm fortunate enough that a lot of my client work comes to me through people who want my personal touch----they want to see how I approach the problem based on what they like in my portfolio. Sometimes though my head is a little too high up in the clouds, and my ADs gently pull me back down to earth.
As for generating ideas, the best practice I've found for that is to simply sit down to one's desk and fill a pre-determined number of pages in one's sketchbook without regard to quality. Our minds get bored with our own insecurities, and after a while, we eventually relax into a state far more open to suggestion than they normally are throughout the day. If you can base the success of time spent in your studio on the number of drawings you make verses the quality, you'll never fail---and sooner or later the quality will catch up. If you base your success as an artist on something you have no control over like your level of creativity on a given day, you'll always be at risk of feeling like a fraud.
Poster for Illisa's Vintage Lingerie in NY
What are your other sources of inspiration? (books, media, mentors, resources?)
I love looking at pre-historic art and artifacts. So little is known about them that it's always fun to imagine what sort of culture produced such things.
Pinterest has been incredibly useful for this. Below are a few really great resources on historic and prehistoric costume and artifact:
I am also inspired by books. I'm always listening to something while I work- I have an audible account and love being read to. I also have a stack of books next to my bed. The current reads are The Diaries of Sylvia Plath, Galore by Michael Crummey, and The Donjon Series of French comics.
Over You Nanook Zine Cover
What is your creative community like? How has that affected the way that you work?
Right now, most of my creative community is online, and also the new people I meet at the comics festivals. I don't get a whole lot of critique since most everyone is just way too busy, but I've found most of my friends are more than happy to answer questions about their own process. I'm always pleasantly surprised whenever I publish a new comic or project, and the level of anticipation and excitement it's met with---it makes me think one day I might be able to work on comics full time.
Do you have any upcoming projects? Any in process works or ideas that you could share?
Haha, I never stop having personal projects. Right now, I'm so backed up with work that I've had to swear not to take on any more until I've completely finished with what's on my plate. April 3rd, I will be part of a group show at Baltimore's Creative Alliance, so I'm busy making work for that. I recently did a short comic called "Mother" in French for a Canadian anthology called TRIP, which will debut at TCAF. I want to continue to expand and translate it into English, hopefully in time for SPX this year. I will also be doing a HONEY related comic for STUDY GROUP. And further out in the wings I have many more secret comics projects planned, but I want more time to build up my comics-chops before taking them on.
Do you have any big goals or aspirations for this year? Any dream projects?
If I had the capital and the connections, there is a palatial gothic mansion in my old neighborhood that has been for sale for years that I would buy and fix up into a ladies comics and illustration commune. We could use that huge lawn out front to hold a yearly comics festival of our own, and maybe teach classes to the local youth. It's a total pipe dream but I fantasize about it whenever I see the latest crop of talented MICA seniors flee to New York or back overseas.
You can check out Celine Loup's work for the Great Personality Exhibition and Game on the Light Grey website here, and all of the prints for the show on the Light Grey shop. You can also see her entire portfolio and projects on her website here.