French illustrator Yann Kebbi has created a book of monoprints full of abstract, painterly shapes cast in gemstone hues. “I’ve created the images using an etching press but each is a unique. Every print is created with multiple layers, just like silkscreen printing or lithography,” explains Yann.
Working on a metal plate, first the black ink is printed, then the illustrator adds colour. “The images can be done in three, four or even five layers. It’s a process I like as it forces you to simplify and it sequences the crafting of the image. There is also something magical with the printing technique, the surprise in it all. It’s a bit like drawing where there’s a balance between knowledge and skill with accident.”
The prints are quite different to Yann’s usual illustrations where his mark making (created using colouring pencils) has a frenetic and playful energy. Through side projects like this, it prevents the illustrator from defining his style too much. “It’s a question I try not to ask myself generally, as it might force me to overthink what I’m doing or how it will be perceived – you end up thinking more about the result than about the process.”
The series was originally created as single prints, as a sort of research project about shapes, compositions and colours. “Some of the prints are created from memories, photos or just spontaneously. I wanted to explore the technique and after a while I was happy to just make the prints without thinking too much,” Yann explains.
The book that now holds the prints is called Monotypes and has been published by 3 Fois Par Jour, which is made up of Idir Davain, Clément Vuillier and Sebastien Desplat. Putting them in book form changes their context slightly as a dialogue is created between the prints from being displayed side-by-side. “Books are a wonderful way to show images as it gives them a bit of sense and makes them more accessible. My friend Helene Marian designed the book and I think she succeeded in giving a modern touch and rhythm to the prints.”
About the Author
Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.