Sunday, 26 October 2008

Illustrator of the Week No 12: Maral Sassouni - PART 1

Quite a special Illustrator of the Week this week, as Maral Sassouni has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her work. I will be posting her responses over the course of the week so stay tuned for a brilliant insight into the life of a successful illustrator. I love her sketches drawn in and around Paris, shown here.

Maral was born in the US, and has spent time in a wide variety of places including L.A., New York, Amsterdam, an English village and a Greek island. She now lives and works in Paris. Her clients include the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft, The New York Times and various other publications.

In our first post Maral explains how she remains inspired from week to week.

(Top image: Location sketch, rue St. Dominique and Eiffel Tower. Below: New girl in Paris - collage, gouache, ink. Below: Paris: Location sketch — Ile de la Cité - pen & ink)

Daily life inspires me -- every day things that you might easily overlook. The unexpected within the ordinary. No matter how long you live in a place you will always come across things that are surprising or even startling.

Here in Paris I do a lot of walking (I must walk 4-5 miles a day just to get my errands done!). The brisk pace is exhilarating and kaleidoscopic, and the visual culture is very rich here. So, no end of things to look at and admire:
posters in the metro, architecture from many centuries (from medieval to modern), people-watching from a cafe or a park bench, shop window displays which are taken to an art-form here, sculpture in the streets, postcard stands and bouquinistes, gallery windows on my way to the market, packaging (still seems exotic to me...). Wholesale hats! Taxidermy!! Old men on wobbly bicycles! It's all here...

I like to slow down the pace and go on "photo strolls" at least once a week -- when I have no errands. Going out with the intention of taking photos causes me to become much more attentive. If you are on foot, and in an attentive frame of mind, you will see wonders wherever you are. I saw a family of raccoons walking in single file one night in Hollywood. Purple jacaranda blossoms fallen on a lawn, colors vibrating like in an impressionist painting. An impromptu juggling lesson in the New York subway.

Art supply shops -- I find these to be re-energizing. Something about buying new materials (especially materials that are new to me) whets my appetite to make things... (In fact supply shops of all kinds will do the trick: glass tiles, buttons, hardware... )

When I am running really low on inspiration, I find it sometimes helps to take a class. I took an art history course at the Louvre, which was fabulous beyond words! This year it was a toss-up between beginning Italian and gospel singing. But both fell through, unfortunately...

(Above: Los Angeles: Location sketch, view of rooftops over Hollywood Hills - gouache, ink)

I like it when the weather becomes dramatic and atmospheric. Growing up at the beach in California I didn't have that and was not used to it when I first arrived in Europe. I work better on rainy days! (I should move to England, right?). So when the clouds throw a tantrum, I have a smile on my face and my hot pink umbrella at the ready. (Its not true, however, that we didn't have seasons in S. California -- they're just different from everywhere else. We have: fire season, earthquake season, riot season and Santa Ana wind season)

- Thanks Maral! In tomorrow's post we will hear what Maral's favourite projects are to date!

1 comment

  1. C'est trés belle Paris!

    I'0ve seen your work and i have to tell you that it's really nice, lovely!
    I'll be back :)

    Best regards.

    Ricardo Cavolo.


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