Tamed Nature – Lucille Clerc

© Lucille Clerc

ABOUT LUcille Clerc

I’m a French Illustrator. I’ve set up my studio after graduating from Central Saint Martins with an MA in Communication Design and before, from ENSAAMA in Paris with a DSAA in Visual Communication. I work mainly within the field of editorial design and illustration, occasionally also realising interior and installations. My work is mainly handcrafted from drawing to printing. In the past two years I have created projects for The V&A Museum, Berluti, Sandro, Fortnum&Mason, M&S, Magma bookstore, Laurence King Publishers, Farrow&Ball, DC Comics, Winsor&Newton, L’OBS, L’EXPRESS, Eurostar Magazine, TGV Magazine

A lot of my personal work is inspired by London, and the relation between Nature and Cities. I produce most of my work in screenprinting.

FOLLOW lucille clerc

Hi Lucille, many of your prints feature London’s cityscape, where you are based. How are you inspired by your environment?

I’m based in East London, it’s like a life size collage there, always changing and mixing architectural styles, and yet lots of green.

And where else do you look for inspiration?

I love botanical gardens, so when I’m in London, Kew is a favorite, as well as The Barbican Conservatory, the V&A, the new Tate, Sir John Soane’s Museum. I’m quite a collector of vintage children books, science manuals and, of any object that doesn’t look like it just came out of the factory in general, so flee markets are also a great source of inspiration. Any trip on a train is great to let the mind go as well. And the French countryside where I grew up.

A lot of your work explores architecture, and flora and fauna. How do you approach these subjects that in a way fight each other?

I come from a town in France called Nancy, surrounded by countryside, where Art Nouveau style started in France. Around 1900, there was a tradition of exploring natural shapes in every field of design, including architecture. I moved when I was quite young but I guess I kept a taste for patterns and a genuine interest for nature and botanic.

My next solo show at Slow Galerie in Paris, coming in September, will be about the relationship between nature and city, where is wilderness now? Have we domesticate nature? Where is its place in the city?

“I’m based in East London, it’s like a life size collage there, always changing and mixing architectural styles.”

A Tribute to Stanley Kubrick © Lucille Clerc

Screenprinting is a very hands on, manual process, what draws you to it?

Most people in my family are craftsmen, I’ve always admire people with a skill they would aim to improve their whole life. There is something very satisfying and beautiful in producing something by yourself, the thought process is different, time is different too. Screenprinting is quite magical in that way. It began simply as a way to produce my work and became a real passion.

You recently did an installation called Nevergreen, where your illustrations came to life with projections. Can you talk a bit more about that project?

It’s a project I did in collaboration with Convivial Studio (sculptures and projections). The idea was to explore how nature would look like, in an engineered environment.

The installation works as a story, developing on 4 walls over 26 meters of wall paper without repetition. It starts with the cells and a nursery stage where plants grow their roots and it ends in the main area where they are fully grown and full of artificial patterns.

I created the patterns that you see on the walls, they are done in quite a realistic way, hand drawn almost to scale, and based on the observation of my own plants (my flat looks like a greenhouse) When night comes, the projections created by Convivial Studio start to appear. Using mapping, they match the illustrations creating 3d effect and modifying the shapes and patterns of the plants like a surreal garden. They also react to sound and adapt to the time of the day so that whenever you come to see the place, it will always look a little different. Come see for yourself!

“Images are so much stronger than words, no caption needed.”

Trees Legends © Lucille Clerc

What was the main difference, or difficulty or opportunity working in a 3D space?

I had a little taster of this when working for Berluti’s summer windows, the main difficulty is the scale, being sure that what you produce in parts and flat would come to life once on the wall. For the Nevergreen project it was even more difficult because we wanted to create different areas within the space, which meant no repetition. So tons of drawings and only one hand! But it was a wonderful drawing adventure on the biggest white canvas I have ever had the chance to work on. (Huge thanks to the Jaguar Shoes Collective team for their trust)

How do you approach collaborating between different mediums and formats?

The good thing in this project is that the 3 of us have very different skills, Paul did all the programming of the projections, Ann created the plants sculptures and I did all the illustrations. Keeping in mind our common brief we worked on our parts in quite an independent way putting things together as we went. I’m very excited by new technologies, I think they will push the boundaries of what was possible so far in the illustration and installation field, and I can’t wait for new collaborations and more immersive projects.

What has influenced you and your practice?

I guess childhood is the key. I grew up with a lot of freedom, surrounded by creative people who were happy in their practice. Whether they had changed it into a job or not, they all had a passion going on, and a very personal way to see the world. There was lots of music, lots of movies, lots of books around and my parents always encouraged me to draw so that was a happy start. Then of course I also have my own mythology of great artists with strong personalities.

Your simple yet powerful illustration in response to Charlie Hebdo attack spread far, and you regularly do illustrations related to politics and contemporary society. What is the power of an image to you – and what can an audience take from it?

Images are so much stronger than words, no caption needed. At a time when people are surrounded by messages, they are still the best way to convey ideas in a minimum time and with a maximum effect. In my practice I find it healthy to balance clients projects, and personal projects. Social media are great for this, I use Instagram like a sketchbook and I share less polished, personal images that have no commercial purpose, more like a discussion with people on topics that move me.


Summer Screen Prints at Somerset House, until august 17