Cinephile Aude Bertrand on how her charming illustrations are inspired by a love of French (post-)new wave cinema
Following her recent obsession with promarkers and new wave cinema, the French illustrator’s practice has had its biggest stylistic shift yet.
- Olivia Hingley
- 31 March 2022
Being the youngest in a whole family of drawers, in her youth illustrator Aude Bertrand often ended up comparing herself to her more experienced family members. Feeling “less legitimate” as an illustrator, she instead decided to seek a different creative path and wound up studying for a degree in film. But, lacking a sense of belonging in this field as well, Aude felt a little lost. However, after attending a small illustration school three years ago, she reconnected with her love of drawing and hasn’t stopped since.
Whilst Aude may not have directly pursued a filmic route, cinema still remains one of her biggest influences. Leaving school during the first lockdown, she began to while away her time watching films and redrawing scenes from them: “I learned almost everything from it: understanding how to frame an image, draw sets, set the light and write a story”. It is also where she began to find the foundations for her characters, primarily looking at “the poses, and the attitude that the character can convey through them”.
During this film-focused period, she particularly immersed herself in French (post-)new wave cinema, including the works of Guillaume Brac, Mikhaël Hers, Agnés Varda and Stéphane Batut to name but a few. It makes sense, therefore, that Aude is “very attached to themes of the everyday, the banal and the invisible”. Upon viewing Aude’s work, these stylistic references are instantly apparent, with her muted tones, artfully composed subjects and depictions of thoughtful solitude. But, in line with the French new wavers, Aude also loves to add subtle surrealism in her work, “I really like the shift that is created when you add a surreal element to these scenes.” A large looming face in the background, or a ghost under a sheet that is revealed to be yet another ghost, Aude very successfully includes elements of mystical absurdity, that perfectly compliment her work’s playful charm.
It was also during the first lockdown (a period Aude frequently refers to as the first time post-schooling that she was able to create autonomously), that Aude’s practice saw its most decisive shift. Buying a handful of promarkers simply to see if she liked using them, she found herself hooked on their watered-down, organic effect. Being quite an expensive tool however, Aude only integrated two or three colours each time, but she “learned little by little to build [her] palette”, and now a restricted colour scheme has become a defining feature of her work. So much so, that the illustrator has been offered large collections of the markers, only to end up accepting a very select few.
With her collective Editions Microgram for the spin-off of the Angoulême comic festival this month, Aude created a new short comic, Fleurissent les Antennes, which follows a film theatre projectionist who suddenly grows antennae. The collective completed the project entirely independently, a feat which Aude describes as “really rewarding, even if we have a job on the side so we’re doing double days”. Having really “thought about the book as an object”, and included “little surprises and hidden things," Aude is over the moon with the “beautiful” final product. Printing everything themselves in a risograph studio, the collective took on the mammoth task of binding the 200 copies by hand – talk about dedication!
Aude Bertrand: Interdiction de faire demi tour (Copyright © Aude Bertrand, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.