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Looking at the ordinary of everyday life through the eyes of time: Conversation with Domitille Cure

Looking at the ordinary of everyday life through the eyes of time: Conversation with Domitille Cure

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With the passing of the seasons we become aware of the progress of life. Seasonality changes colors: trees change from green to yellow until they lose their foliage; the tangerines we find in autumn change for the strawberries and cherries of summer; light and colorful cotton dresses give way to heavy and dark coats. 

Life, divided into four seasons, teaches us to deal with constant change. Symbolically we associate spring with childhood, summer with youth, autumn with maturity and winter with old age. Plants, animals and humans go through a cycle. Clearly there is a beginning and an end. However, I don’t think we can say so simply that old age relates to winter and that childhood relates to spring. It seems to me that we are seasonal beings; sometimes we feel more summery, other times we feel more like spring or autumn. Sometimes a season can last for years and sometimes for months. Sometimes we think of a friend as more solar, always smiling and brightly colored; and other times we find a city, like Berlin, almost always dressed in black, like an eternal autumn-winter. So, instead of associating winter with decrepitude, we must simply observe that just as the earth needs a frost to prepare the newblooming of flowers, in the same way we must go through highs and lows. 

Collaboration for the Berliner Planze Kalender 2022.
Illustration: La Météo

Our memories also move within this temporality. We remember: the beer we had with a friend in the park the first sunny days of spring; a summer at the coast; a walk with friends while stepping on the autumn leaves; someone’s last Christmas. And life presents us with this cycle that comes and goes. The seasons are the clock of the world.

La Météo, in French, means weather or climate. In more technical words, meteorology studies climatic and atmospheric phenomena to forecast the weather or climate of a specific place. This is precisely what Domitille Cure does with her illustration brand La Météo. Domitille studies the seasons, colors, and temperatures in order to predict and engrave the seasonality in her prints. 

It may seem banal, but the right decoration can help you feel at home. After the chaos of moving to another house, I found my walls bare and their paleness was crying out for a little color. On a daily basis we have to deal with what we hang on the walls, so you should love the image that you see while drinking your daily coffee. 

Imagiers La Météo.

I have never understood art collectors who buy an artwork just for status. They should be bought for the aesthetics they conveys. As in the case of the famous falsifier-painter Wolfgang Beltracchi, who had the ability to copy the style of several painters and his copies were so fabulous that anyone could swear that it was a lost work of some important painter. When he was discovered, he continued to paint in the various styles he could imitate, but he signed his name. For falsification occurs only until you sign with another name. However, some of those who bought his works decided that they lost value, because they were trying to buy a signature and a status, not a painting that they liked and evoked something. It is not my intention to write a text on aesthetics. Let’s stay with one idea: that you should like and enjoy what you see in your home.

It was late autumn when I met Domitille Cure in a German class. When winter arrived with its Christmas markets, I bought my first illustrations: some lemons (citrons) and a cat (chat). Every time I enter the kitchen, the first thing I see are her lively colors that remind me of summer and sunny lands far away from Berlin.

Imagiers La Météo.

Domitille is a French artist who studied textildesign at the University of Glasgow and lives in Berlin, a city where international artists converge and has a great cultural variety. For the past three years Domitille, together with the Swedish artist Maja Björk, who illustrates images of daily life, has been participating in an art market. The pandemic closed public places for a long time and although the markets are open-air, Berlin’s cultural life has been slowly returning since last summer. This has led the illustrators to move from exhibitions to Etsy, which has the advantage of reaching any city. Domitille’s prints have reached USA, Canada, Mexico, England, Korea and several countries in Europe. 

Plato considered that the artist was an enthusiast, with a god within (en-theos) and that his work was inspired. Sometimes it is thought that inspiration is an irrational impulse that appears unexpectedly, but it seems to me that inspiration, although it can come at any time, also requires constant exercise. In Picasso´ s words: “inspiration exists, but it must find you working”. To better understand the work, effort and inspiration behind the illustrations that adorn my walls, I spoke with Domitille.

Portrait of Domitille Cure by Maja Björk.

Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview, I think that many who know your work are also curious to know a little more about you as the illustrator. Choosing an illustration to decorate your home or office is something intimate and it produces a link, a relationship between the illustrator, the image, and the one who looks at it. In a certain way, we look at the world through your eyes. And I would like you to tell me a little bit about that world. Usually your illustrations are not compositions, but precise images: tomatoes, butterflies, flowers, and animals. Why do you draw what you draw? And what do your illustrations mean to you, what do you want to transmit through them?

Thank you for this beautifully written portrait that well captures the essence of my little world. My label La Météo is inspired by the seasons, by France, by botanics and, as you said so well in the presentation, there is the idea of temporality, of taking an ephemeral element specific to one season and immortalizing it in the next one. In the 90s in France we had these posters inspired by imagiers with animals or botanical drawings that were often used as kitchen decorations. The images were categorized by theme with their associated name underneath. It’s a pretty simple concept but I liked the idea of reappropriating it with my own aesthetic and also to perpetuate the idea of a popular art, something accessible to all.

For me your illustrations show small details and scenes of life; as an invitation to pay attention to everyday life and to learn to appreciate it. I would like to know a little more about your creative process, how do you go from observation to illustration?

That’s exactly it! My drawings aim to enhance everyday things that may seem banal or that we sometimes forget to look at by giving them a new gaze or a new color. I like to think that with my choice of bright palettes, my illustrations can have the effect of vitamins in the winter, although sometimes, they also have something a little nostalgic.
My creative process is based on my explorations in nature, travels, iconographic books such as those from Taschen, classic botanical imageries or Nouvelle Vague films. I soak in what I see and try to immortalize it with a sketch, a collage or a play of colors. Sometimes my images are simple and iconographic, like the botanical series inspired by the imagiers, sometimes I try to express a specific moment, like the breakfast scene inspired by the film Le Rayon Vert, which reminds me nostalgically of summers spent in France.

Four landscape postcards. La Météo.

I don’t think La Météo as your artistic name is a coincidence in relation to your illustrations. I think the seasons influence your creative process. How did you start with this project?

Absolutely. I wanted to express something changeable like a season specifically in relation to our emotions. La Meteo  is not just about the weather, it’s also about the passing of time and the small simple moments that are part of our lives in this 4-part temporality.
I created La Météo in the autumn of 2019 just around the same time we met. I had started working on a series of collages and wanted to find a way to print them. I discovered risography at that time and started to have my illustrations printed at Drucken3000, a Berlin printing studio specializing in this process. The work on the color themes was done using this printing technique. It was necessary to limit the choice of colors while keeping the bold contrasts of my initial collages.

On a more technical note, the paper must have a certain porosity for the color to be so vivid. Could you briefly and simply describe the technical process of printing? Or how do you print in your workshop?

Of course. I use two printing processes for my prints; risography and screen printing. I like both techniques for different reasons. Risography for the grainy texture that the ink gives. The ink is more transparent than silkscreen and when the inks are layered, you can create amazing color combinations. For example, with three basic colors, you can create a multitude of different tones. I like screen printing because of the bright colours and the almost painted look of the final print. With this technique I can create rich and interesting contrasts. I really enjoy the process of mixing each colour before a print, it is a really important part of my work that will ultimately define the whole mood of the final illustration. I personally print the silkscreens in my studio in Wedding and the risographs in Rosenthaler Platz. All my work is created and printed in Berlin with my own personal French touch.

Domitille in the print shop.

I would like to address more personal issues with two very specific questions. Did you draw since you were a child? And what was your family’s reaction when you decided to become an illustrator?

Yes, I’ve always liked drawing and being creative in general. I think it fits my dreamy personality and sometimes helps me to express myself without necessarily using words. In high school, I discovered the Fauvism movement. Artists like Gauguin and Matisse painted women and landscapes in bright colours. These palettes brought so much emotion to the works, while speaking of travel and discovery. This spoke to me a lot and inspired my way of drawing or painting with colour. Later, when I was 20, I lived for a while in the south of France. Following the footsteps of the Fauvists, I discovered the Provence region of France, whose palettes have inspired my work in the last few years. 
About your second question, I would say that my process of becoming an illustrator has happened organically over the years. I studied Textiles Design and my process of working on fabric prints  led me to a more illustrative approach. My parents have supported me in my creative path even during the times when they didn’t fully understand where I was going.

We all have a book, song or painting that has influenced us in our perception of life. Who or what has been your biggest influence?

I think that inspiration evolves and changes as we meet new people and discover new things, and this is mainly what builds and makes the richness of our creative identity. If I had to define a work that has continuously inspired my work for years, I would say it is the Nouvelle Vague Cinema movement of the 1960s. I am specifically focused on the films of Eric Rohmer at the moment. I find that this director masters the beauty of the simple to perfection. In fact, all his films were directed without scripts to allow actors to portrait more natural interactions. His films represent a France of the past, a little naive and full of lightness in a very rich coloured atmosphere proper to the aesthetics of this cinematographic movement.

Domitille Cure at Design-Market:
imagiers and Le Rayon Vert. La Météo.

Maybe it is difficult to decide which is your favorite illustration. But what is the illustration that sells the most and why do you think people choose that one the most?

I really like the illustration of the breakfast inspired by Eric Rohmer’s film Le Rayon Vert. It’s the one that is most intimate to me and which, in the end, most evokes this idea of seasonality. It’s a sort of Madeleine de Proust of my summers in France. Having breakfast outside in the sun, reading the newspaper while drinking coffee from a bowl. It’s funny because other French people have told me that it reminds them of that too. I’m glad I managed to capture this very peculiar moment.

Many times in job interviews they ask: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” That question has always seemed difficult for me to answer, because personally I find it hard to plan or have an outline of life. On the contrary, I believe that life often happens as we least expect it. So it seems a little unfair to ask you about the future and to guess about it. Although I would like to know a little about your plans… not about the illustrations of the following years, but at least if you already have an idea of the next one, and if you would like to illustrate in other materials, for example cotton bags, t-shirts, notebooks or books.

That’s a good question! I’m very interested in continuing to work on illustrations inspired by films, or compiling all my botanical drawings into a children’s book. Beyond illustrations on paper, I would love to offer stationery or fashion items, for example, some nice fruity socks. I can’t wait to continue to develop and refine this project that is close to my heart! 

Domitille Cure self-portrait.

If you want to learn more about Domitille Cure’s work or purchase any of her illustrations you can visit La Météo’s Instagram or her Etsy store.