French illustrator Chloé Bertron updates us on her “kinky, playful, unsafe and cryptic” books and illustrations
Making a comeback after two years, the illustrator tell us what she’s been up to since then – which includes her first children’s book and a zine about sexuality.
- Ayla Angelos
- 5 August 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
"Bright, flat, playful, kinky, cryptic, unsafe, narrative, lots of flowers and plants” – these are the words that French illustrator Chloé Bertron uses to describe her work. No stranger to It’s Nice That, we last heard from Chloé a couple of years back and, since then, she’s more than settled into her new freelance life. Working on a few commissions, the most prominent part of her portfolio to date is the zines and publications that she’s illustrated – Paquet de lettres, Têtes enlevées and La clé des langues to name a few.
Not only this, but Chloé also started up her Instagram page, a place that she now uses to post “pictures of the world [she] imagines”. Of whether or not her style has or working process has altered in any way, she adds: “I don’t think my style has changed drastically, and my themes are quite obsessive. But sometimes they are little innovations, for example, I started drawing characters from the front.” With a process that’s very much based on improvisation, it’s clear that the last two years have seen the illustrator refine her practice with great unexpected intention. “I think of something that I want to represent – an idea or a form (often related to what I live) – and everything is built around it.”
Growing up in eastern France in a “cute average family”, Chloé’s parents were her first introduction to the arts. Her mum studied textile design in Basel and used to bring her along to museums often, spending time in nature together too. Chloé would also be nose deep in the library reading “anything”, and she didn’t quite much like school despite the fact that she a good student. “Deep down I’ve always thought art was the best option, but I’ve considered so many other professions and studies: architecture, philosophy, furniture restoration, pastry chef, environmental engineer and so on,” she adds. The moment of when she decided to attend art school, however, was when her mum had warned her about the “harshness and solitude” or creative professions. “And how I see what she means, but I can’t see my life any different – it feels like the right thing to do.”
GalleryChloé Bertron: Cle des Langues
Literature and books in any form have always inspired this illustrator. Chloé sees the printed and written form as a comfort, which naturally led to her writing her own short stories and keeping a journal. There are a couple of other inspirations too, such as how she views images “like candy” in a way that they describe human specificity more illicitly than words. “They multiply the meaning of the text, making it clearer or more complex,” she tells us. “Images and words are so beautiful together!” So when Chloé makes her own books, rest assured that they are about to inherently personal and creative.
La clé des langues (translated to “the key to tongues”) is an example of how her love of storytelling and art collide. “While drawing, I find an element that gives me the impression that I could continue on the same principle – so I made several cliff drawings with ‘realistic’ elements,” she explains. Over the course of the lockdown, the illustrator experienced many thoughts about face and how the “void between two people if filled by the imagination”. With time to think and explore her mind, the text in this case was placed to “dissect” these desires and thoughts – achieved through the telling of a story that had happened to her, but in a way that’s vague enough for everyone to understand if they want to.
Then there’s En Hédonie, Chloé’s “attempt” at making a children’s book that sees her put forth a travel book-esque publication of an imaginary country named Hédonie. Plus Map of sexuality, a 12-page story that will be published by Plum Press, New York along with two other pieces. It tells the story of the development of the body through a snake “found in a bed” – “every other page is smaller, so there is a game of progressive discovery of the large images.”
Entertaining, curious and also provoking, Chloé has a wonderful line up of projects that will take off in the near future. Not only will Map of sexuality reach fruition but she also hopes to complete a “big book project” that features a dinner party where “people ask themselves how to find love”. A larger piece that’s somewhat different to her short “instinctive” stories, it’s a project to look forward to.
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.