Aurélie Neyret

Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in France, between the countryside around Lyon and the mountains of the French Alps. Nature was a big part of my life as a kid, I used to play outdoor a lot, maybe that's why some of my favorite themes to draw are nature, animals and kids having great adventures. The other thing I was passionate about were books. I still have some of my favorite ones from my childhood (such as ''Where the Wild Things Are'', ''Foxwood Tales'', Jill Barklem's gorgeous books.. ). I was so inspired by their wonderful illustrations, and I decided to be an illustrator quite early. I wanted to tell stories and create little worlds of adventures. 

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
Both! I spent one year studying the basics of drawing in an art school in Lyon, named Emile Cohl. But I wasn't good enough at that time so I didn't make it to the next year. It was a very competitive school and I think it wasn't the good way to approaching it for me. Too much pressure gave me art blocks, so I wasn't making progress much. The funny thing is that when I left the school and I started drawing for fun again, without grades, I finally started to apply what I had been learning. I guess it depends on people, I personally need to explore and just draw for the sake of it to develop skills. So I just kept drawing, I took part into online challenges on forum and such, I shared my drawings asking for feedback.. I love learning while having fun, so I try to keep it up and question myself a lot, trying to improve all the time. 

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I'm very blessed, because my parents have always been supportive and interested in my passion. They never wanted me to do anything else than what I want and makes me happy, and I think that's the good way to go. My friends too, they always understood that drawing is a part of who I am, so it's just natural. A lot of my friends works in the visual art industry too (comic books, animation, video game.. ), but I also enjoy having friends who do something different. Sometimes it helps not to talk about the same things all the time! :D Some of them are lawyers, dancers, web designers, travellers, hairdresser, even embalmer! They are all passionate about what they do, that's what I like. 

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I would say the children books I talked about already, and also movies! Disney Classics, of course (I know ''The Aristocats'' or ''Robin Hood'' or ''The Sword in the Stone'' by heart), and all the Miyazaki's movies and that fantastic cartoon he worked on about Sherlock Holmes. Also movies like Paul Grimault's ''The King and the Mockingbird''. And more adult books from Moebius, Little Nemo from Winsor MacCay..

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
It depends on what I am working on, but I usually block some colors and then paint in it. I do a first pass for local colors and volumes, then add some coloured shadows, an overlay layer for the light.. I work with Photoshop and a Wacom Intuos. I like the Intuos better because it's light and easy to carry so it allows me to work from anywhere, and at the same time, it's big enough not to make me feel restrained. I would like to do more traditional art though, but it's not easy to find the time and the right project to do this. 

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I couldn't tell which part is my favorite, I love all parts of the creative process for different reasons. For example when I do comic books, the storyboard part is like resolving a puzzle, you have to think about everything, solving problems one by one, and it's very fun to draw because it's a dynamic and straight to the point kind of drawing. I usually find that my roughs have more energy and it's a challenge to keep that energy during the next steps. But after a while, I like to clean the pages, add details, see the drawing coming together more precisely. And when I'm tired of the line, it's time to do the colors, which is yet another exercise, a very playful one for me. Maybe the best thing is designing new characters. Exploring different body shapes, faces, attitudes, it's like doing a cast for a movie, and all of a sudden, you just meet the right one. What I like with comics is that you don't just give up on the characters once they're done, giving them to another team, like in animation. It's a selfish pleasure to follow your characters into the story and make (him/her) live different stuff. On the contrary, animation is great too for the opposite reason, getting to see your characters ''alive'', moving and talking, thanks to team work. As you can see, I really can't say what I like the most, that's why I try to touch to everything. 

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
I work during day time (not always had), so I wake up and get to work at about 9 or 10 in the morning, usually start the day with replying to emails or do administrative tasks. Then if I have time I do a warm up session, just doodling or work on something personal, then get to work. I used to have this routine of spending 30 minutes every morning on a personal piece, but I'm afraid recently I've lost it because... too much deadlines. I really have to get back to it. I try not too work too late in the evening, and go for a run, or to see some  friends, watch a movie with my boyfriend... It's hard to keep a healthy living when freelancing, so I'm doing my best. My most current partner in crime is Joris Chamblain, who writes the story of ''Les Carnets de Cerise'', the comic book we have been doing for more than 4 years now. We constantly exchange ideas and feedback. We are very used to work together, it's really fun and I like the way we're making decisions together. It's nice when you're creating something with another person, and nobody takes control, or imposes his/her ideas. Joris always tries to write stories that are tailor made for the artists he works with, and our golden rule is trying to make a better book, more than imposing our idea. It's important that we should both be proud of what we are doing. We try to constantly do new things, new situations, new backgrounds for the story, so that we are never bored. 

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
That's a big question ! My evil plan has always been to have enough money so I can only work on the projects I really want to, and at my own pace, you know, while traveling the world. I'm working toward it anyway. But more seriously, in the future I would like to do something more concrete with my art, like getting more involved into causes that I'm sensible to, like the animal cause or human rights. I would like to give a % of the money from my work to associations for example, and work on books or movies, or projects that have an educational goal and help people. I think art is a great way to convey positive messages and I would like to do my part in trying to make the world a better place. I hope that doesn't sound too cheesy.

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I have been freelancing for nearly ten years, so I can't really tell. More recently I have been working for a company, but as a freelancer. It's nice to work with other people because you can feel lonely when freelancing, and also I like to team up on something bigger than me. But I still am independent. I think it suits my nature better. I'm lucky to have enough steady clients and projects so it's not scary or stressful not to know what you will make in the next month anymore. And I cherish the freedom too much now that I'm so used to it. You can get to pick what projects you work on, you can manage your time as you wish, work from anywhere in the world. Doing comics for example is hard and it's really hard to live from it, but you have absolute freedom.. Freelancing demands some self discipline though, it's not as secure, you're alone to do all the annoying parts like administration.. freedom is demanding. But it worths it for me.

What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
Maybe the best way to deal with art blocks is not to try, for a time. Like, go on a walk, live the desk behind, do something else. Getting too much into something, everyday, reading about it, talking about it, it can be exhausting. I think it's important to find balance. Like when you look at other people work, sometimes it's a huge inspiration, but if it's too much it can block you, make you feel so lame in comparison. To keep myself creative I need to play, draw just for the sake of it, do personal work, and also to just forget about the professional part of drawing. It's a passion but when it's also your job it can become boring. And when you're not having fun doing what you do for too long, you start hating it and that sucks. Also too much pressure and self deprecation can be toxic. That's why I need recreational time,  trying to keep the feeling of drawing like when I was a child, without judgement or reason. I try not to forget it, and to like the process more than the result. Sometimes it takes a vacation. 

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
Sure it's always drawing but the process and the industry can be different, indeed. What you need to take into consideration is whether you'll want to be alone at your table for months, or do you'll need to be in a team. Do you want to control everything or is it okay to be a small part in a pipeline? But the good news is, all these fields are not walled from one another. A lot of people do animation but also illustration and comics, for example. Young artists maybe should start by whatever attracts them and where there is the most opportunities, then see what they like or not. Life is for trying out!

Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
I wouldn't say it's not a good advice, though I think one can have different styles, but the reason shouldn't be to adapt to a ''commercial style''. For example if you like to draw in a simple cartoon style but also to paint more loose painterly stuff, you should do both, maybe just do 2 portfolios if it's really too different. Also don't be too diverse, like when every piece in your book has a different style, nobody knows who you are in the end. It's usually better to do less things, but know them well. I think one important thing should be : don't have that one style in your book, you think is commercial but isn't you. Because it will be a trap, if clients get to know you can do that but you don't enjoy it. Once you're known by clients with a style, it's difficult to change it if you don't like doing it. Also, if you have different styles, you don't have to show them all to the same client. When looking for new clients, it's always nice that people will notice that you know who they are and what they do, and approach them with a relevant kind of work. So basically, when showing your book around, think of who you're showing it to, and only have style(s) you know you love doing, because you'll be the one who'll spend countless hours drawing with that style, so you better be comfortable with it. 

If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic book, graphic novel, children book, ''how to'' book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
For comic books, there is a French (originally Japanese) book from Akira Toriyama called ''L'apprenti mangaka'' that teaches about story telling and comics, that is really good and fun. I'm not sure it exists in English, but there are similar books, like ''Understanding comics, the invisible art'' by Scott McCloud. And, not being original here, but any ''Art of'' from  Studio Ghibli. The list of essential books is so large.. why only chose one!

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
I'm in awe for everything they do at Tonko House. I'm a big fan of Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, and of Pixar where they used to work, of course. I admire people who can be minimalist and yet create art that is so warm and lively. Their use of light is amazing. Light is an incredible part of a good scene, it gives mood and emotion. I think that is what I am the most sensible to. Another studio I am a big fan of is Laika. I find their designs very unique and they have this rough grainy feel of real things made from scratch, it's so nice to see that in our time of digital everything. I also love the work of people like Manu Arenas, Alexandre Diboine, Annette Marnat, Cory Loftis, Tadahiro Uesugi, Carter Goodrich..

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
My Tumblr blog ( captainaurelieneyret.tumblr.com ), my Facebook page is HERE and you can find my comic books HERE (There is no English version yet but it's finally going to happen next year!).