The feeling of moving away from home, for university, for a job or for love, is something most of us go through at some point in our lives. French illustrator Anne Pomel took this leap in 2015, moving to Portland from Paris. This life-changing move is the focus of her latest book, Before the Rain.
Anne’s move was swayed by a good friend moving back to their hometown near Portland, and the illustrator “really wanted big change,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I decided to go visit them and finally move there to try and pursue my career as an illustrator.”
Anne’s previous life in Paris was built around the two main passions in her life: illustration and fashion. She trained academically as a graphic designer, interned for various fashion brands and illustrated for numerous publications. Although it sounds like she was smashing it career wise, “I didn’t really find myself at ease in the Parisian fashion crowd,” the illustrator explains.
A big change sounds like a sensible move, but as Anne explains, she went in blind: “I knew nothing about the city. I gathered that there was good music but I didn’t really look it up so it was a total surprise when I got there,” she says. “The first day I freaked out because it was so different from Paris, I ended up in a factory based area and was like, ‘where am I!?’. But then I saw all the trees and beautiful houses, and it was true that the music scene was very active and nice. I’ve also met so many nice and interesting creatives. I’ve never really got used to the rain though!”
The difference in weather is also eluded to in the title of Anne’s publication Before the Rain, based on her first month living in Portland. “I was still in some kind of a fantasised version of the US, it was very dreamlike. As a French person the only time I had seen such pretty wooden houses was in movies or storybooks,” she explains. However, despite the “magical” architecture, the move was also an isolating experience for the illustrator, an experience conveyed in the evocative black-and-white line drawings that fill the book. “That’s the reason the book is almost ‘silent’ because I was by myself most of the time. I also like the idea of people interpreting what they see, rather than having all the answers.”
Anne put the book together by storyboarding her experiences, a process which she says took time, “I consider myself a very slow illustrator”. Getting to know the city, the illustrator drew at her new home and in the many, many coffee shops of the city. “They’re very cute and I love to draw there, it’s very peaceful. In France, we hang out in bars, it’s very refreshing to be in coffee shops!”
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