Learn to find a personal style with February’s Nicer Tuesdays
Aurélia Durand and Pablo Rochat took to the online stage to tell us about how each developed an approach and aesthetic that is uniquely their own.
February’s Nicer Tuesdays saw two creatives joining us from different sides of the globe: illustrator and animator Aurélia Durand, tuning in from her studio in Paris, and artist and director Pablo Rochat, tuning in from his home in Atlanta. Opening the event was Aurélia, who took the audience through a lively and colourful presentation of her work, discussing her aesthetic considerations, the attitudes and values she champions, and how both of these aspects of her practice are tied back to her childhood, her family and her travels. Next up was Pablo, who participated in an open Q&A with our editor-in-chief Matt Alagiah. Delving into the magic behind his humour-laden work, he explained what it takes to devise a good prank, how he stays motivated, and how he deals with the inevitable challenge of creative block.
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Aurélia Durand: Our Future Is Bright – Adobe (Copyright © Aurélia Durand, 2020)
Aurélia Durand on how her practice brings together her cultural heritage and her love for 90s cartoons
Sitting in front of a wall of her stunning work, Aurélia discussed how she found her distinctive personal style. Recalling her time spent in Copenhagen, a city she called home for eight years, she says: “I was lonely, the winters were long and dark, and I needed colour and to reconnect with my culture.” She found solace in illustration, experimenting with colour palettes that were bright and varied, and drawing figures and characters that she felt better represented her and her community. She was also inspired by her childhood and growing up in the 90s, referencing the era’s iconic cartoon culture, with shows and channels such as Looney Toons, Cartoon Network and Disney. These were, and still are, nostalgic and comforting for her, reconnecting her with her youth and her earliest artistic inspirations.
Alongside this, Aurélia also talked about how childhood plays into her practice in other ways, such as the culture she draws upon from her birthplace of Réunion, a small island in the Indian Ocean. She was born there to a French father and an Ivorian mother and grew up in a family that was greatly influenced by both backgrounds. She was also exposed to the island’s equally diverse culture, surrounded by people from Asia, Africa and Europe, but set within a French region (France colonised Réunion in the seventeenth century, only relinquishing control of it in 1960). “This is my inspiration, where I come from – I want to tell that story through my work,” Aurélia says. As well as influencing her subject matter, this history also comes through in her aesthetic. Her bold use of colour comes from African craftsmanship, capturing the vibrancy of the textiles and the clothes that are so recognisable for their bright hues and intricate patterns.
Aurélia then took the audience on a journey through her vast and impressive portfolio of projects, showing work that she has created for brands such as Apple, Adobe and Nike, among others. She also recalled some of the most exciting and poignant moments in her artistic career, displaying the first book she ever illustrated, titled This Book is Anti-Racist, which took off during the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020 and eventually went on to become a New York Times number one bestseller. These huge successes gave her the confidence to begin pursuing new mediums such as animation, which she is now well known for. Her empowered figures found new life as moving characters, dancing to music that Aurélia says has become a crucial part of her practice: “There are not many illustrators who can animate, and by doing so I am able to bring some attitude to my work and create a universe with music and movement.”
Pablo Rochat on overcoming the fear of “making shitty work”
In conversation with Matt Alagiah, Pablo spoke about his illustrious career and his ascent from art director at an agency to a successful self-employed creative. He explained how his out-of-the-box thinking wasn’t suited to strict briefs and narrow-minded clients, saying that “often the ideas I found most exciting were too offbeat for the client and they weren’t getting sold through. But I still wanted to make them so I started publishing them on Instagram and friends began sharing them around.” He retraced his transition as he left the company and began focusing on personal projects.
It was around this time that his public profile really began to take off, and it was mostly a result of his unique brand of humour. Specialising in funny, off-the-wall content and simple yet effective pranks (such as placing Airpod stickers on the ground and filming by-passers’ futile attempts at picking them up), he soon garnered a loyal online following. His creative comedy eventually caught the attention of big name brands such as Nike and Balenciaga, and renowned artists like Drake, for whom he directed a recent music video. All of them were drawn to his meme-style entertainment and his tongue-in-cheek approach.
Asked about creative blocks, Pablo revealed that he does indeed, like everyone else, have moments where he’s helplessly scratching around for ideas. As hard as it is to believe, given the endless stream of genius gags that fills his Instagram page, he actually suffers from creative block most days. “I’m obsessed with trying to get over creative block – it’s my number one enemy,” he says. “It happens all the time and it’s more rare that I don’t have it than I do.”
Off the back of this, he gave his top tips for beating it, which includes going for a run, taking a nap, and his 10-ideas-a-day tactic, which sees him write down ten possible ways forward for a project, ranging from the bad to the brilliant, every day. He goes on to say that the quality of the ideas doesn’t matter at this early stage – it’s the quantity that counts: “I just grab a piece of paper and draw ten squares and put an idea in each. It allows me to not get too attached to an idea or worry about the first one not being good. In fact, if I force myself to write down the bad ideas, it actually loosens me up and lets the good ones flow.”
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Pablo Rochat: Balenciaga 2022 Year Of The Tiger Campaign (Copyright © Pablo Rochat, 2022)
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