“I like to open doors that I wouldn’t have thought to push, to lose myself in places,” says Line Hachem, an illustrator born in Paris to a French mother and Lebanese father. “These experiences are part of me and constantly nourish what I create; I try to take side roads and share my findings in my images.”
Growing up, Line always wanted to make a career out of drawing. Engulfing herself in graphic novels and posting her comic strips on her blog, her childhood was consumed by the medium of illustration – she even planned to become a comic book author. Later, while studying illustration and scientific illustration at Estienne school, she “opened up to ‘pure image’,” she says, and discovered the power of colour, shape, pattern and pictoriality. While she also studied at Les Arts Décoratifs de Paris, Estienne is an experience she holds close to her heart; it expanded her mind in terms of typography, printing techniques and bookmaking. “It was a whole new world in front of me and all of that was very exciting.”
After school, Line began work on her own personal repertoire of illustration, working for magazines and children’s publishing on the side. She’d also devote her time to reportage comics, which is something she still creates for music festivals. “I have a lot of different ideas and desires, and I try to find the time to make them all come true,” she tells It’s Nice That. And when it comes down to her inspirations, music, naturally, has always been a key figure – after all, she is an amateur musician and plays the erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument.
Other influences stem from a mix of sources. This includes Paganism, black metal – which makes her “love crooked forms of nature” – as well as “terrible storms and wild natures.” Inspiration can be found in precious stones, minerals, mushrooms and symbology in nature, for example. And then when it comes to visual art, the deeper the meaning the better. Otherwise, in pictorial art: the colours, textures and themes of symbolist painting get her creativity flowing. Art Brut is also a key favourite of hers, particularly in terms of the raw compositions and freedom of expression.
So with this in mind, Line’s colourful – and sometimes naive, in the best possible way – drawings begin to make a lot more sense. Sweet characters are adorned in bashful colour palettes as they hang out with friends, kiss one another or go swimming. Crafted in pencil, the work is given an almost fuzzy texture, adding another dimension to the scenic drawings. “My coloured pencil work came out of a need to reconnect to paper and direct colour, and to unleash my creativity,” she explains. “In general, I tend to think a lot, doubt and ask myself all kinds of questions before doing anything.” As such, her works are intuitively created following a spontaneous process, one that involves “reconnecting” to the pleasure of what she loves doing the most: drawing.
Beginning the process with an idea, Line will then sketch in her notebook and start testing out a few compositions on paper, finding a "fun or interesting tension between the different patterns.” These imprints can be anything from graphical to representational or even a pattern. “And the figuration is just a means of making shapes and colours vibrate as well as possible.” Line doesn’t plan any drawing in advance. Instead, she lets the image grow and waits for a usually pleasant surprise at the end. “In a way,” she says, “this process allows me to discover a hidden part of me. It’s almost like an introspection.”
The Bath is a recent work that denotes her intuitive and colourful process. Vibrating immensely with a palette of summery hues, the piece is eye-catching, warm and provocative – it stirs emotions that relate to a warm sunny day and fond childhood memories. “Moreover, people are represented like small balls, like little candies, but we can clearly identify each character and scene,” she notes. “I find this funny and cute.” Noises, on the other hand, has been crafted from an old sketch that she likes, and is a more abstract depiction of what looks like witches riding on broomsticks. “I find it interesting how the softness of the colour pencil texture reacts with the roughness and distortion of the shapes,” says Line, who called the piece Noises due to the sounds that are lifted from this piece. “The shapes are, for me, like little sounds that I can hear when I listen to the songs I like.”
Line’s work, as a whole, is filled with ambiguity, but we’re pretty certain that you’ll enjoy looking at her sketchy pieces just as much as we do. “I don’t want things to be black or white, or stereotypes,” she concludes. “What interests me are the shadows, the roughness in things. I think a great sweetness emanates from my drawings but it’s not something that I consciously control.”
Line Hachem: Kings #3 (Copyright © Line Hachem, 2021)
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 nearly a decade 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.