“I don’t look like a gothic lolita. People are regularly surprised when they meet me."
With Halloween (possibly my favourite holiday!) fast approaching, I can’t think of a more apt artist to show you all than the one and only Amandine Urruty @amandineurruty
Her graphite masterpieces are as fantastically imaginative as they are comically ominous. Opposing interpretations are a key to the viewer experience, with themes of Carnival, death and anthropomorphism..
Each surreal and macabre piece is extravagant, highly detailed, and produced - if you can believe it - by Urruty crossed legged in her bed.
“I love when pictures are ambivalent and disturbing, that’s why I guess that’s that kind of (non)sense I try to create with my drawings. I’m not very interested in truly illustrative work, I love when pictures look like enigmas and defy language.”
Amadine, let's start with my usual Quick one: what 3 words would you use to describe your artwork?
Black, white and slimy.
Perfect! could you Tell me about your artist story. How were you trained? Tell me about your journey to where you are now?
As a child, I already knew I wanted to be an artist. I was quite solitary, living in a small rural town. Drawing was a good antidote to boredom, and it quickly became my main activity. Then, I moved to a bigger city and naturally started to study art at university, initially in order to become an art teacher. At that time I thought it would be totally impossible (and stupid) to work as an artist.
So many people have that moment!
I stayed eight years at the university, where I used to do photography, street collages and academic drawing. As my student work was becoming more and more theoretical (doctoral thesis, etc.), I began singing in a band. To be honest, I was an awful vocalist, but it was the occasion that inspired me to create my first posters, record covers, t-shirts, etc. And that’s how it all began, actually. We used to do a lot of fly-posting at night, and as I began to receive feedback about my drawings, I left university, a gallery proposed hosting my first show, and I did my first illustrations. That was twelve years ago.
I'm so pleased you persisted!! I'm curious as I've read in other interviews, and even your own bio, that you work in an unconventional place... amandine, What is your studio like and Where do you like to create best?
I have a bad habit, I work on my bed. So I use a cardboard as a backing, roll up the sheets and work cross-legged. It drastically improves my productivity, compared to the classic chair & table configuration.
That's amazing. I am the same with working from my bed! So, What are your artist necessities? What could you not live without?
Bed, pyjamas, Internet.
Aha! and, What do you listen to while you work?
I rarely listen to music while working, it distracts me too much. In order to stay focused, I prefer listening to stories, podcasts, and mainly podcasts about true crime. I must admit, it’s my favorite vice since years, I’m a living serial killers directory.
Amandine, tell me, Who or what are your biggest influences, and how do you find them? How do you believe these come out in your work?
Hieronymus Bosch, René Magritte, Ingres, Brueghel, for the main ones. I discovered surrealism first, at my hometown’s library. I guess it has always been my main influence. Then, my art history lessons at the university taught me a lot about classical painting, and I began developing a true dedication to what we call « l’art pompier », the 19th century’s official art. Meanwhile, I also began learning about flemish painting, and contemporary art. I like all kind of art, excepted impressionism. I try to find inspiration everywhere, even in shapes that are initially really far from my own practice.
What do you want your work to say?
I love when pictures are ambivalent and disturbing, that’s why I guess that’s that kind of (non)sense I try to create with my drawings. I’m not very interested in truly illustrative work, I love when pictures look like enigmas and defy language. Of course, there are main themes in my work, like Carnival, death and anthropomorphism.
I like to conceived my drawings as theater stages, where ghosts, people and objects play an obscure show.
Pop Culture is obviously a huge influence on your work, and regularly features. Which characters/ pieces particular favourites to include or reference?
I like to include characters and toys from my childhood, like they’re part of my mental theater… That’s why I regularly use pieces from 90’s movies (just like Ghostbusters, or Chucky for example) : I grew up with horror movies, and my father was a huge fan of all kind of b-movies, and especially gory ones. I also like to play with vintage toys in my drawings, just like I used to play with them as a child, just as if they were getting alive at night and take part in curious rituals.
"I don’t look like a gothic lolita. People are regularly surprised when they meet me."
Tell me about your artistic process?
There are many steps in my artistic process. I keep writing ideas in little notebook, themes, characters, general directions, and then I begin sketching. Once the composition is ok, I start working on the final sheet of paper. Outlines first, then solid grays and blacks. After that, I begin working on my first layer of chiaroscuro, then a second and finally a third one to rebalance the contrasts. I like to use a single medium, pencil, but I also occasionally put a bit of graphite and charcoal powder.
What are you most proud of during your career?
Well, I think I’m proud of being able to turn my initial dream into reality. I love drawing so much, I think I wouldn’t be able to do anything else. But I never think about what I should be proud of, I only think about my upcoming challenges. And there are many challenges I’d like to face.
What piece of advice might you give to an aspiring artist?
Work, work, work, during countless hours. It’s not a job, it’s a priesthood.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I don’t look like a gothic lolita. People are regularly surprised when they meet me.
Aha! If you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with?
I’d like to eat roasted boar with Hieronymus Bosch.
What is your greatest indulgence in life other than painting?
Eat, sleep, and a bit of party. I’d like to live a puppy life, under a blanket all day long.
Favourite historical female artist?
Favourite current practicing female artists and their instagram handles?
Dafne Tree @dafnetree / Allyson Mellberg @allysonmellbergtaylor / Lola Gil @lolagil / Winnie Truong @winnietron / Sticky Monger @Sticky Monger / Brandi Milne @brandimilne / Nicoletta Ceccoli @nicoletta.ceccoli / Camille Rose Garcia @crgstudios / Laurie Lipton @laurieliptondrawings / Natalia Fabia @nataliafabia
Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Thanks a lot and take care !