It doesn’t necessarily make you smarter, but it feels good.

Laura Ancona

ART  .  March 31st, 2021

Who are you?

I was born in Paris, where I often return to see family and friends. I moved to Strasbourg a few years ago, a city where I had already studied and where destiny (love) made me come back.
I graduated from HEAR in 2012 with a DNSEP illustration.
I am lucky to have a passion, drawing, and to have made a profession of it. Imagination has big role in my drawings, and my life. I am aware of being lucky for that, and as well for still not to living in a bubble, disconnected from society; I also like to share the pleasure of creation by developing workshop projects, with different audiences and in different environments: associative, school, socio-cultural…

What do you recommend to listen to while reading this interview?

I am pretty bad at multi-tasking: if I read I can’t concentrate on something else. I do enjoy some background noise however, it creates a familiar ambiance and eventually allows one to concentrate. But it would be weird to recommend « one good background noise. Maybe that is a kind of podcast to invent…

What do you like in those creative workshops you’re holding?

Workshops are first an opportunity to take a step back from my work and to question my own way of working. It is also a great opportunity to meet people, outside of our social bubble and our small professional environment.

When I work for illustrations’ commissions, the goal is to communicate an idea, to translate the customer’s wish, in a pretty way.
In my personal projects, I am interested in the shapes and the colors themselves, and in the thoughts lodging in this very intuitive aesthetic research. There is a great deal of mystery and surprise in my work, and that’s what excites me.

In these workshops, I try to develop systems that leave a large part to the unexpected, to the interpretation and imagination of everyone, always including a playful dimension. And I like to discover how each one appropriates the given instructions and constraints. Plenty of nice surprises again!

How would you describe your work?

In my drawings, in my watercolors and other water techniques, forms blend together, they create, they transform, and vegetation plays a predominant role. Apart from my commissioned work in illustration (for publishing or for visual communication) my personal projects are series of drawings in which the abstract and figurative parts are associated: like the egg and the hen, we don’t know what arrived first, between shapes, colors and patterns or elements depicted.
Sliding and falling are recurring elements of my sketches, even obsessions, and I like the ambiguity : these actions are associated with entertainment, playful activities, sports, which bring relaxation, fun or thrills, all that we find ourselves in an amusement park. But we are never far from the void, the abyss, on the one hand darker that we seek to fly over or tame. This point of balance interests me.

Some scenes would make awesome Polly Pocket toys, or, on a bigger scale, crazy amusements parks! It’s often very playful and absorbing. How does your childhood influences your art today?

I think my whole life is shaped by my childhood memories. I still look at Polly Pocket’s with the same eyes. Like I do with my multicolored plastic diamonds that I always keep in my magic box (which comes from Morocco), or with Claude Ponti’s books. I don’t understand why on day people stop watching cartoons to watch movies instead, why the images are removed from books, leaving only text content – except in « art books » – or why games, objects and architectural elements designed for children are round, colored, with materials pleasant to the touch, and not those intended for adults.

In my drawings, I am still playing like a child, inventing sets that come to life with more or less imaginary characters going through, and this generates an endless amount of possible narratives. I probably draw, among other things, because it would be frowned upon to spend my days playing Polly Pockets, especially since it does not bring money in :) I would love to create real games, but what I particularly like about drawing which volume does not allow, is that it can give an illusion of reality with compositions which are only made possible in the invented space of the sketch and would be impossible in 3D. We can create new spaces, dimensions and perspectives … which is particularly welcomed nowadays!

How do you want to make us feel when looking at your work?

Images that touch me are a great comfort to me. It’s like drugs, sometimes you feel inert, you get bored, you look for taste and all of a sudden you come across something that happens like a spark, a light that comes in.
It doesn’t necessarily make you smarter, but it feels good.
I hope that my work can have this effect on certain people, whatever the emotion or the interpretations which are made of it, according to the imagination of each one.

What’s your favorite thing to draw?

I really like to draw the thin thickness of a surface.
Stratums, layers… I love the look of licorice English candy (sandwich in haribo candy boxes).

Do you spend a lot of time in nature? Or are you drawing loads of forests because you miss it on a daily basis?

I manage not to be too far from it. For example, this is what explains, among other things, why I enjoy living in Strasbourg, with parcs, lakes and forests easily reachable by bike.

But I also really enjoy watering my houseplants every Monday and seeing new leaves appear, I still have the eagerness of a child seeing a growing seed. I am always fascinated by the variety of shapes and colors of fruits and vegetables.

I think that I draw mostly nature because there limitless possibilities of shapes and colors, and also because a jungle, for example, brings up both the dreamy part and the dangerous part of a fantasy world. There is something distressing; this ambivalence is very appealing to me.

Laura Ancona is a French artist, you can check out her website and follow her on instagram.