Τρίτη, 2 Μαΐου 2017

The portrait of an artist: Seng Soun Ratanavanh

 
Seng Soun was born in a little town of Laos, but grew up in the suburbs of Paris, where she lives until now. She studied art in the "Paris Fine Art School". She started to paint at the age of 16, but she was drawing since ever and has never stop. Illustrating children's books makes her feel inventive and creative. "Attends Miyuki" is her first book.

What kind of illustrations do you do? Would you like to share with us a unique experience you had when illustrating a book?

I try to make poetic, funny and nice illustrations. "Attends Miyuki" is my first book. I was a painter before that, so I used to paint my own ideas, my own "head story". For the first time I had to fit my drawings in a text that wasn't mine. So I first read the text of Roxane Marie Galliez, "Attends Miyuki", I discovered the story, the characters and the ambience of the fairy tale.  However, I tried not to stay too close to the text. What it' s saying with words is already said. I wanted to say something else with my drawings, so I had to bring my own imagination, my picture world on it. It was very exciting and frightening at the same time; but still great. I learned to work differently. Fortunately, I loved the text and my editor was so adorable and helpful. The truth is that the text brings ideas that I would not have without it. 

Is there a text, a book, a fairy tale, a song you would like to illustrate but haven't yet? 

Yes, very much! I'd like to illustrate tales like  "Hansel and Gretel", "Pucelina", "The little mermaid", "Alice in wonderland" and many others and of course.

What materials do you usually use?

For now, I use watercolors and colored pencils but I'm a painter and I hope to make a book with paintings soon.

Is there a time of the day you prefer to work? Do you always paint at home?

I love to work in the morning for the light and during the evening for its ambience. But I have to work in the afternoon too. I always paint at home, in the living room.

Are you currently working on something? 
What a coincidence, I'm actually working on a children's book illustrations for a Greek publishing house!

Is illustration a profession for you or a hobby? Is it possible to make a living through illustration in your country?

Illustration is my profession, and yes it is possible to make a living through illustration in France. But it is not easy, and fortunately my husband has a "real" job! Ha ha. 

Which illustrators (classical or contemporary) have inspired you?
There are a lot of illustrators that I love : Isabelle Arsenault, Beatrice Alemagna, Pierre Mornet, anthony brown, Lisbeth Zwerger, Kay Rasmus Nielsen, Ivan Bilibin, Momo Takano, Satoe Tone, Ayano Imai, Shaun Tan, Jon Klassen and many others.

It is the first day of spring and Miyuki is hasty to discover her garden in bloom, but a small flower is not blossoming. She is very upset and she decides to go and search for the purest water for this flower, despite the advice of her grandfather who asks her to wait. She spends her day running and so she misses the first day of spring. It is a poetic and philosophical tale about the art of patience.
 
What in an illustrator's relationship with childhood? How much do your childhood memories define your work? 

My relationship with my childhood is central in my work. I think that it defines everything; what you are, what you have to say. Memories are pictures too, because we create them. They are not the print of what really happened, but the  version of what we want to keep in our mind. I also try to speak about everyone's childhood. It is universal, we have all been children before.  So, I try to communicate with children and at the same time to wake up the child in each adult. 
In your paintings the viewer can distinguish some “ingredients” of Japanese art, such as soft colors that remind us of the water flow, colorful kimonos, the art of origami. In what extend has Japanese art influenced you?

What a coincidence (once more) when the publishing house proposed me "Attends Miyuki's" text, I was just working on and was very interested in Japanese culture, pattern and graphism. So it was like a gift! I really wanted to propose my personal view of Miyuki but without contradicting the text. That's why I decided that Miyuki was a tiny girl in a giant world. It is a trick to awake the reader's imagination. Otherwise, the story is about patience. Miyuki is always in a hurry and I wanted all my illustrations  to counterbalance the hurry of Miyuki. Finally, like the tradition of Japanese and Chinese art, I wanted to have a particular attention to the problematic of the background and the form. The white side of the paper is the most important because it determines the shapes and the drawing. The most important in the picture is in the balance of white and the colors, the background and the shape.
 
What do you find inspiring in your routine? How would you define happiness?

Everything is inspiring and beautiful and funny in our routine: flowers, animals, inspects, the sky, the clouds, the color of the light, the rain. What's important is the way you look at it! How do I define happiness... I have really no idea...


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For any information concerning Seng Soun's work have a look here


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