“When I was younger I wanted to be a farmer-painter,” Philippine d’Otreppe tells us nonchalantly, opening our eyes to farming-painting as a viable new profession. (Imagine it, a canvas set up in the corner of a barn. Idyllic!) At some point along the way she dropped the farmer element to concentrate on the art part – beginning with an Illustration degree at the Arts University Bournemouth, where she developed her practice. “At school I always wanted to study art, as it was what I was most passionate about. Then I decided to do a foundation in the UK, which made it even clearer for me that illustration was what I wanted to pursue.”
The foundation pushed her to move from Belgium, which further encouraged her to grow, she continues: “Moving from Belgium to England has considerably opened my mind; cultural differences, learning a new language and discovering new places have inspired me.”
With this in mind, it’s somewhat surprising that Philippine took to drawing the dog races in Poole for one of her final projects – a pasttime which is about as British as they come. “The drawings were all made on the spot, observing and documenting people interacting with the space,” she explains. The flurry of activity there perfectly suited her dynamic, sketchy style – depicting the lined faces of old men from life as they darted around, betting on would-be winners – and this quality makes itself evident throughout her practice. She annotates her sketches with naïve hand-drawn type, giving her energetic images a diary-like quality.
Naturally, if Philippine could show her portfolio to anybody it would be to Jean-Jacques Sempé – an illustrator with a similar taste for charismatic movement, and a cartoonist whose work she has enjoyed since she was a child. “I’ve always been fascinated by his talent to tell a story with such delicate and sensitive drawings.”
On the most important lesson she’s learned as a student, it is that “being productive is important,” she says. “Never cease working, and carry on with new projects.” With that work ethic firmly in place, in a year’s time she hopes to be working freelance from London, “with access to a studio, and preferably working with other artists. I want to carry on with new reportage projects, with screen-printing and with book making… As well as of course exhibiting my work in galleries!”
We are very pleased that The It’s Nice That Graduates 2015 will once again be supported by Represent Recruitment. The graphic and digital design recruitment specialists have developed a peerless reputation working with designers of all levels and matching them up with the right positions in some of the top agencies around. Represent’s support has helped us grow the Graduate scheme over recent years and we are thrilled they have partnered with us again in 2015.