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.”