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Vanessa Hié, imaginary illustrator

Is illustration a minor art form?

For some artists and gallery owners, comparing a work of art to illustration is a way of disqualifying it. There would be no place for illustrations in the art world!

But illustration is not a dirty word. When it comes to creating images, why draw a line between major and minor art?

We create images to express ourselves, to send out a message, an emotion. The quality of the image creator lies in his or her ability to produce unique, personal images whose signature and style are identifiable in the mass of images. This creator will then be recognised as an Artist.

photographie de l'illustratrice Vanessa Hié dans son atelier à sa table de travail
Vanessa Hié in her workshop

Dialogues with authors or spontaneous creation

After graduating from Olivier De Serres school, Vanessa presented Casterman with images of dogs created for their own sake, with no concern for illustration in relation to a text. The personality of Vanessa Hié’s style convinced the publisher to pair her images with a text waiting to be illustrated. Since then, Vanessa Hié has worked with several publishers, producing an average of two albums a year.

While publishers have a hand in creating author-illustrator encounters, an author can go and meet an illustrator whose work inspires him or her, and the vice-versa. The illustrator is not just a showcase for a text; some authors even write for illustrators. Book fairs are their favourite meeting places.

Alongside her work for the publishing world, Vanessa never stops making and creating images with no specific illustrative purpose. She just needs to create, spontaneously, without premeditation.

youth books illustrated by Vanessa Hié

Vanessa Hié's technique: wallpaper, cutting, gluing

Vanessa Hié is motivated by a desire for creating, and admires the craftsmanship of ceramists, cabinet-makers, dressmakers…

Like any artist, Vanessa masters a technique. She uses monotype printing to create wallpaper from relief motifs she has designed herself. Using this material, she cuts out, assembles and glues together scenes combining plants, animals and humans, with richly costumed hybrid creatures. They don’t provoke any silly joy, just a hint of a smile at the unexpected situations and the formal attitudes of the richly costumed characters. Her paintings are characterised by harmonies of colour and sophisticated details.

Her taste for staging is also evident in her dioramas.

Vanessa Hié is one of the most talented illustrators in the publishing world and beyond.

The word “illustration” comes from the Latin “illustrator”, meaning “one who makes things shine”, and “lustrare”, meaning “to illuminate”. What an art!

Illustrators, i.e. creators whose aim is to illuminate a text, are true artists recognised for their personal style and creation. And some great artists have no reluctance to add sparkle to a text. It would take too long to list them all, but Artistes Actuels would like to highlight a few imminent examples:

  • Sonia Delaunay collaborated with Blaise Cendrars in 1913 and illustrated “La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France” published by Hommes nouveaux.
  • Marc Chagall illustrated La Fontaine’s Fables in 1926-27.
  • Fernand Léger illustrated Paul Eluard’s poem Liberté for Seghers in 1953.
  • Max Ernst published a collage-novel “Une semaine de bonté ou les sept éléments capitaux”, 119 copies were published.
  • In 1963, Andy Warhol published a children’s book that he illustrated: “Autobiographie d’un serpent” (“Autobiography of a Snake”).
  • In 1970, David Hockney illustrated the Grimm brothers‘ stories.
  • In 2012, Actes Sud Juniors published Charles Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood, illustrated by Lydie Arickx.

Japanese prints were originally commercial publications on poor paper, disposable illustrated sheets. And yet!

[… to be continued …]