Oriane Jeanselme on embracing illustration after losing interest in graphic design
When she moved from Nantes to Paris’ Chinese district, she became exposed to a host of new sources of inspiration.
- Jyni Ong
- 24 July 2020
Like many members of our faithful audience, Oriane Jeanselme studied a discipline near and dear to many of our hearts: graphic design. But after she graduated with her degree in Paris, it took her “a really long time,” she tells us, to accept that it wasn’t really what she was passionate about. In time she realised that typefaces, layouts, and the creation of identities didn’t spark that natural buzz of interest within her. Instead, she felt a pull towards the creation of album covers, the curation of magazine images, and colourful street photography.
Oriane liked to draw alongside her design practice. Though it never became a prominent focus in her output, she actively decided to focus on this medium once she discerned graphic design wasn’t the thing for her. She discovered bundles of inspiration in her Parisian neighbourhood, telling us, “When I first moved to Paris from Nantes for my studies, I was 17 years old and living in the Chinese district.” Having not traveled much previously, the area provided a host of new visual treasures for the budding illustrator.
Mesmerised by what was on display, she wondered through the busy streets and grocery stores, soaking up the unfamiliar signs, the distinctive shiny packaging lining the shelves, and the interesting use of colour and graphics. Having never seen anything like it, these surroundings influenced Oriane a lot. “After growing up with quite a narrowed occidental visual input, it felt very fresh and exciting,” she says.
At university, she opened up to even more possibilities of the technical kind. She learned to use new programmes, specifically Illustrator, the discovery of which she describes as “a critical moment”. Realising how “easy and fun” the tools were to use, Oriane started experimenting with the varying brushes and textures. Over time, she narrowed down the tools that would come to define her style today; a sweep of black lines contoured with blended hues of deep floral reds, purples and greens.
Nature is an ever-present subject for Oriane. Deconstructing petals and exaggerating the voluptuous blooms of summer’s most decadent offerings, the illustrator finds an abundance of new material in the lifecycle of flowers. “I most love to draw flowers and faces, two organic subjects,” she says. This, combined with the colourful influence of her surroundings in the Parisian Chinese district, makes for a complementary list of ingredients that certainly packs a punch.
“I’m absolutely not an expert at Illustrator and tend to ignore a lot of its functionality,” Oriane says, “but basically I just like to mess around with it.” Despite this creative freedom, she often finds it hard to accurately jot down an image in her mind’s eye onto canvas. “Really struggling,” she puts it, to consistently represent what she’s imagined previously, in recent times Oriane has tried another approach – embracing the fluctuations rather than fighting against them. “It feels much better,” she says. Now, working with less pressure, she allows certain aspects of her style to stick if they feel right at the time. And as for the future, she’s hoping to bring these digital images into the physical world.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.