Interview in TheChatterboxclub
SOLÈNE DEBIÈS, AN EDITORIAL AND COMMERCIAL ILLUSTRATOR
She makes a living from her passion for drawing and her determination to not give up.
This month, I present to you Solène Debiès, a french illustrator I had the chance to meet in October.
Of course I’m going to talk about the work she’s doing, which has pushed her to make illustration her job. But, conscious of having approached a rare bird, I also wanted to ask her a lot of questions about her very inspiring life, how she found, with her husband, the perfect balance between travels and routine, her working life and her family life, self-realization and to find time to give to her children.
In short, we will either all be jealous or completely inspired by the life of Solène at the end of this article!
SOLENE HAS ADOPTED THE CITY OF NANTES
Solène is Breton and often with Bretons, she has the genes for adventures and loves nature. It is therefore instinctively that she has adopted a healthy life in a quiet place, without wanting to deprive herself of the rest of the world.
Having followed a scientific course at the beginning of her schooling, Solène didn’t beat around the bush before choosing her path.
She realized that the time she would spend working throughout her life could not be dedicated to anything else other than drawing and enroled at Pivaut School, a graphic arts course in Nantes.
And my friends, when you give this marvelous city a chance, you end up adopting it! Years later, after many journeys and encounters, after the sun of Asia and the scents of the souks, after the warm seas and isolated huts, she always comes back to Nantes, where she lives a few months per year and it’s in this city that I met her for the first time.
TRAVEL, DRAWING, AND COOKING!
Her house is a bit like her. It cannot be approached easily. You must deserve it. But when you enter the living room, you find a real marvel.
I am greeted with tea and some cupcakes, we make the most of the weather by chatting on the terrace above the garden that’s teeming with greenery and climbers. We saw the shed at the end of the garden, a charming cottage which sets the scene of what was once her husband’s office, who is a sound designer, so that he could isolate himself from the rest of the household and create in peace.
Oh yes, I did not tell you! This family is very creative!
JOYFUL AND COLORED ILLUSTRATIONS
You have already heard of her work without necessarily knowing that it’s her work.
You’ll find her work in women’s and international press magazines, on book covers, in some commercials for beauty brands, on luggage, in haute couture, and even on television since she draws the sets of the show and the outfits presented by stylist Cristina Cordula every Sunday at 10:30 on the channel Teva.
Her list of clients is impressive, and certainly not exhaustive: ELLe magazine, Marie-Claire group, Biba, Gala, Nail Pro magazine (USA), Parenting Group (USA), Plon Editions, Pocket, Hachette, India Book House, Exacompta, Tupperware, Nestlé, Inno (Belgium), Beauty Passion, Garnier, Ictyane, Phyto, Caron, Givenchy, Lancome, Delsey …
Her universe is very feminine. Obviously drawing fashion designs, accessories, book covers, beauty ideas or perfumes is not a task for her.
GUIDED BY MEETINGS
I found it very surprising that a personality like Solène seems so detached from the hubbub of success and notoriety.
She has no career plan, no particular ambition. Moreover, it’s very simple for her, to be honest, she has no official agent and does not even need to spend time marketing her work or maintaining her network. The requests come on their own. These are the meetings that have made and still make her journey what it is today. She seems to trust her destiny.
She is known in her artistic community. She’s lucky to be able to let things come to her …
What the brands are looking for from Solène is her his ability to perceive, analyse, focus on an attitude, or sketch currents affairs, a fact of society while using her feminine and colourful touch. Her drawings are distinguished by their freshness and humour.
Here is a Parisian lady riding her bike, a fashionista coming out of a shoe shop, or a mother traveling with her children. The women she represents are positive and active. We like to think that we could be just like them. In short, it’s us, but better!
INSPIRED AND INSPIRING
Solène does not seek more customers than she seeks inspiration.
It’s unsettling to see how everything comes to her with the greatest of relaxation. “There is a bit of luck, and a part of tenacity,” she admits.
Here is a good example: She was contacted by the brand Delsey to customize luggage in their boutiques in Paris and she simply told them about her passion for travelling and within a blink of an eye she was propelled into becoming a luggage-muse (I bet you didn’t know that job existed did you ? Well neither did I!), travelling the world with husband, children and with all the designer label suitcases named under the Sun.
Do not believe that she let herself be seduced by the sound of mermaids and the sweetness of dreamy lives, embellished by Photoshop retouching and simulated love filters. Solène’s head is well set on her shoulders (do I need to remind you that she is Breton?), And when she moves her tribe three months a year to Asia, she takes the opportunity to visit international customers (Elle India in particular), and continue to educate her daughters as if they were going to school, and provide them with the necessary framework for their education.
For those who have seen the movie Captain America, we’re not quite there yet!
Careful, I talked about a family of creative people, not disconnected originals.
“It’s not a three-month vacation,” she tells me, “it’s days of openness to the world, discovery, awareness, creativity and learning and not only for the children. ”
Hectic moments in life, cadenced by school or professional rhythms and the urban environment do not affect her anymore. She can feel, touch, rest, observe, and let the images print what’s in her brain.
No enumerator’s book, dated photo grading, no binders and no to-do lists. Solène makes her 5 senses work, then, when the time comes, her memory will be engraved with those privileged moments spent on a trip on the other side of the world, as a family.
You have understood, that what inspires her comes from immediacy and cannot be explained or listed.
It’s the realm of the impalpable, like the smile of a woman at the spice market, the colour of a sari, the beauty of a print or grid in the street, the statues of a temple or suggestive shadows …
Then, it is intelligence and empathy that she must deploy to understand what a brand expects of her and her illustrations.
Is there an explanatory brief? what is the brand’s history? Which words identifies it? Is the illustration intended for a particular event? What are the current affairs? What elements will encamp her subject? Which characters? In which situation?
“This winter, we will go to Cuba and Mexico,” she tells me at the end ! -I can slip into your suitcase, we will have our feet curled up in our UGG boots to hold on until the nice weather comes back … Oh my I want to go somewhere sunny to draw inspiration!
What do you think will happen that when her tribe is settled back at home in Nantes, during Spring, and she has to organize birthday snacks, picnics or creative activities with the children? With the same ability to adapt to a new rhythm or setting, she will become the favourite nanny and distribute to children black and white photocopies of her drawings that they would be delighted to add colour to!
SOME INTIMATE QUESTIONS FOR SOLENE :
I must tell you this. Solène is like a mystery, a little hard to crack, she does not give up so easily. Most of all, it seemed to me that my questions about her desires, her passions, her plans, her convictions, her revolts caught her attention but that her natural modesty pushed her not to put herself forward, convincing herself that she is not so different from us all and she would still like to keep some of her garden secret.
Everything I learnt about her is here.
Where do you shop ?
Solène : Wherever I am in the world, I go to the local market. And for clothes, I do not have an address, I go where I have a crush on items, usually to small independent shops.
What kind of consumer are you?
Solène : Reasonable and reasoned.
Do you think it was travelling that made you consume that way ?
Solène : It certainly helped, since we travel light. No extension wardrobes or suitcases. We travel efficiently!
Travelling also opens your eyes to other priorities, people, lifestyles, differences in social levels.
Solène : Yes and the consequences of our consumption patterns. You become aware of a lot of things as soon as you start to travel. We are inevitably moved when we come back home.
I saw that you illustrated a book called “Mini Kit of survival of the organic chick: 200 tips all year round” by Marie Beuzard & Isabelle Delannoy, as well as Anne Ghesquière, from www.femininbio.com. I would like to talk to you about being organic.
Solène : we are very careful about what we consume, we cook a lot. When we buy a shop bought pizza (because yes everyone can be tired, be late or have an empty fridge when you come back from a weekend away on a Sunday for example, yes it happens to me Solène and that’s reassuring!) the children complain “Oh no we prefer homemade pizza!”
All in all, we have our habits with neighbourhood traders or the next-door market. We eat a lot of fish or shellfish from the coast (we have a fish monger 30 meters from our house!) We eat little meat, and from time to time good farm poultry. It’s delicious, good for your health, and it helps the local economy!
Now let’s talk clothing, lingerie, shoes, I know I’m being pushy, but it’s been my job for a very long time so I cannot help but be curious about these sort of things. Are you sensitive to trends? Do you give in to buying an item of clothing just because it’s fashionable?
Solène : Yes, of course, just as everybody does I imagine. In addition to my work for the TV show Cristina Cordula, I must keep myself informed about trends, new colours, shapes or materials. I also know which garment to choose according to your morphology. I make sure this appears in my illustrations.
What was your last favourite purchase, for example ?
Solène : At Galeries Lafayette, I bought a green tweed coat with touches of gold. A real find!
What do you think about recycling, vintage, thrift stores ?
Solène : I have not adopted this type of consumption in a systematic way. In terms of recycling or thrift stores, you have to spend time hiding, searching, sorting. When I have time, I spend it by the sea with my children, tinkering or making cakes at home.
Would you say you have a dream life ?
Solène : I do not really tell myself that, but I do love my life. Moreover, our children are growing up and the early stages of their lives are almost over now that they will soon be going to high school. It will certainly be less easy to manage an education outside of any setting. We will have to change, adapt to this new situation, invent another life.
But neither I nor my husband know what our new life is going to be like.
Are you going to continue your job as an illustrator ?
Solène : Of course! I do not plan to give up drawing. However, I could also discover a new profession, develop a new activity, which will showcase my silkscreened drawings. I am currently thinking about launching a line of clothing, my illustrations would be perfect on a T-shirt, linen, or beach accessories. Nothing is defined. Everything is to be done.
I have a last question to ask you from Claire Colin, the previous guest in the “beautiful stories” of The Chatterbox Club:
“What new paths do you take to renew yourself in your art?”
Solène : I get my inspiration from traveling, exploring different cultures, but also from everyday life, around the corner, at the restaurant, in my family and with my friends.
Now, Solène, if you had a question to ask the next creative person invited to unveil themselves in the blog, what would you ask them?
Solène : What do you do to build a life that you love?
Thank you Solène for your time and your availability. You’re now part of The Chatterbox Club’s creative guestbook, so I would just like to say:
WELCOME TO THE CLUB !