Even as a child, Linda Merad was constantly drawing. “I dreamt of becoming a stylist,” she recalls. “I drew tonnes of shoes, mostly platforms like the ones The Spice Girls used to wear, and also a lot of ladies with crazy hair and eccentric makeup, wearing oversized dresses.” Later on, Linda realised that her creativity was less inclined towards textiles, 3D, and sculptural fashion, and more towards flat prints. So, naturally, she studied graphic design.
“After my degree in design in 2014, I started working as a freelance graphic designer, but drawing slowly took precedence over my activity,” she explains, largely because “the most direct way to bring my ideas to life was by hand drawing.” Today, Linda is based in Paris and works as a professional illustrator – yet her style is still “very clean and graphic,” exhibiting the influence of her education and training.
Whether she’s working on a personal project or a commission, everything starts for Linda with a wide range of inputs. “I’m a compulsive image collector,” she says. “My phone’s memory is about to crack! I’m influenced by social trends, fashion, photography, design and traditional arts, to name a few.” She says that everyday life is an “infinite source of inspiration” for her, explaining that she has found the kernel of an idea in everything from “memories and feelings” to “words and jokes”.
GalleryLinda Merad (Copyright © Linda Merad, 2020)
Having experimented for several years while she honed her craft, she now has a fairly fixed creative process. Once she has landed on an idea to work on, she develops a preparatory drawing. “Like a photographer, framing and composition are essential for me,” she says. “Once the narrative elements are set up, I can move on to the ‘real’ drawing, always done in black pencil. It is then scanned and ‘cleaned’ on Photoshop.”
Then comes the important part: applying colours digitally. “I’m now trying to devote more time to this colour phase – I really enjoy looking for a subtle atmosphere of colours to serve the idea of the drawing,” she says. “I guess it adds an emotional charge to a pencil drawing which may appear simple and flat sometimes.” She particularly enjoys how there is a kind of duality in the work – “I can go from outline drawing to filled and textured surfaces, like false volumes,” she says, again displaying a graphic designer’s sense of space.
The final illustrations always have an intense and slightly mysterious atmosphere. There is often a sense of movement or narrative, as well as what Linda describes as a “funny or dreamlike” quality – indeed, humour definitely plays a role in her work. Then, again, “one can find a sexual charge unconsciously too,” she says. “My artworks are mostly narrative, close to an abstract and suggested figuration. It’s a question of personal interpretation, guided by moods and feelings.” All this means that you’re never quite sure what exactly you’re looking at in a Linda Merad illustration, but you always find yourself searching for a hidden meaning.
Linda Merad: Fungi Climbing (Copyright © Linda Merad, 2020)