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Interview with Chloé Perarnau

Can you tell us about your career?

I am a professional illustrator and author of some of my books. It took me some time to find what I really wanted to do, so I did both cultural management and art studies. I graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels in 2011. When I finished, I quickly started working on a project for a children’s book, and for small commissioned works. It took some time to find projects to work on and nice publishers. It's still difficult today for me, as for many other illustrators. It is a very irregular and precarious work, and as a writer and illustrator in Belgium we still have no status. I am often very upset with this situation and it is difficult to make things change, we do not yet have a union for illustrators and authors, strong enough to move these working conditions.

In 2013, with a collective of writers and illustrators from Brussels, we wanted to found a magazine for children but different from what already exists and we wanted to edit it ourselves. And that is why we created the fanzine Cuistax. It was a real opportunity to work independently on a magazine, to meet other illustrators, to share our desires and difficulties. It is very precious today to be able to share, and the project still continues today. There are not a lot of publishing houses for children books in Belgium so I work mainly with French publishers. I have some projects in Belgium, for associations, brands, workshops for children ... But this is not the main part of my activity.

Who are your main influences, artistically and in life?

My main influences are related to children's literature (many illustrators of the 50s and 60s and more contemporary ones), painting (from Brueghel to Matisse), cinema (Jacques Tati for example), architecture, my travels, the landscapes I cross and the people I meet. I just had a baby so I guess it's going to be another source of inspiration.

When are you happy with something you created?

I am rarely satisfied with what I draw, sometimes for a few days, a few weeks, but I always find things to improve, or sometimes I feel the desire to change everything! It's hard for me to always keep the same style, for each project I want to try a new technique. But we can not revolutionize every time.

What is your opinion on the climate for culture in Brussels?

The climate of culture in Brussels is rather favorable, prolific, there are a lot of authors and illustrators, in children's literature and comic books. And beyond that, there are many cultural opportunities , theater, cinema (a great cinematheque), dance ... What is missing are real places for art, at affordable prices, places that would offer great quality exhibitions, as it is the case in Paris, Amsterdam or London. Museums that already exist are sometimes poorly maintained and not very ambitious. There are some new places emerging, we will see if it can make things happen. The micro-edition (art books, comics, illustration) is very lively, there are many small salons and meetings. In my opinion, there is a lack of real places where to exhibit and sell these editions, prints, originals.

Is there a medium/genre in which you haven’t worked, that you would like to work in in the future?

I would like to work in bigger scale, painting on canvas, on wood panels. I would need a workshop for that. And I will certainly test (as part of an exhibition in Luxembourg next January) a series of illustrations on ceramic tiles.

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