I 2016 købte jeg Le Parc af Jul Gordon i en bogbutik i Bruxells. Bogen er en af de her bøger, hvorom de fleste nok ville sige, at den er grimt tegnet. Jeg er selv ret vild med den, og jeg synes tilmed, at den er smuk, men det er så svært at forklare hvorfor.
Farverne er flotte. De sort/hvide opslag er stemningsfulde. Og kompositorisk synes jeg, at bogen fungerer godt. Historien er lidt mærkelig, men den passer godt til det underlige univers og de skæve tegninger. Her er et kort interview på engelsk med Jul Gordon, som jeg lavede i starten af året.
Tell me a bit about who you are and where you studied illustration?
My name is Julia Gordon. I was born in 1982 in Lüneburg (a small town in northern Germany). I studied illustration in Hamburg from 2003-2008. For me Anke Feuchtenberger, Atak and Stefano Ricci where important teachers.
Anke is a teacher who really tries to understand how each student think and she supports and challenges each student to find his or her way of drawing and thinking. Her teaching is not about style but about learning to be true to what you tell and draw. And only to draw what you believe in.
Before I attended Anke's classes, I had a course with the artist Atak who was a guest teacher at that time. He taught me the value of working together with other people, and he taught me to love my drawings. Atak also forced me to think about typography, which was very helpful to me.
Stefano has a way to make students go for an idea whatever it takes. This might sound banal because it's something that a student has to learn, but in my case, I met Stefano as a teacher when I was ready to learn it.
Are you mostly into drawing comics or more general illustrations?
I love drawing comics but I would like to illustrate more, because I need to earn a bit as well. But the way I work on stories and comics is not so easy to adapt for professional illustration. At least this is my experience so far. Right now I also earn a bit by teaching and by doing workshops for children.
Do you struggle as an artist with not feeling good enough or uninspired – or does drawing and writing come easy to you?
I mostly struggle.
Tell me what Le Parc is about. How did you come up with this story?
It was supposed to be an adaption of the "Rosenkavalier" by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, but at some point I decided that I wanted to tell another story. If you know the Rosenkavalier though, you can see that the constellation of the characters is based on the Rosenkavalier story.
I categorize your way of working with drawings and comics as experimental. Some people mostly see experimental drawing as “ugly drawings”, but for me experimental drawings are the most exciting. I find a quality and an aliveness in these kinds of drawings, that I don't see many other places. Is this way of drawing a style for you, that you developed over time (I see a similar style in your book “Hot Dogs”)?
I would say that it's a style that developed and is constantly developing. I think I try to be true in the drawings. No show.
Can you describe what kind of qualities you find in this kind of drawing? In Le Parc your "mistakes" are visible. What are your thoughts about this way of working (with mistakes I mean)?
I'm not sure. First I do a sketch and then I draw it again on a lighttable. I try to avoid mistakes and to think precisely about how the page should be. The drawings (also the ones with mistakes) are the results of trying to avoid everything that disturbs me.
Do you feel that the experimental way of drawing is accepted in Germany as an art form - is it understood and appreciated?
Yes, by some (very few) people.
How did you develop Le Parc? Did you write a script first, or did you sketch, and then the story developed over time?
I always sketch everything first. In this case I wrote a script and made a storyboard. Then I changed it while working on it. The storyboard is useful as a way to find out how I want to work. Some drawings I had to do several times. For example the "isselpigs garden" needed several changes.
The isselpigs first looked like ordinary pigs, but someone suggested that they could look more like the sound of the name “isselpigs”, and so I tried to draw them more issly. Below is a version of how the pigs looked at some point in the proces. The isselpigs and their home, the isselpigs garden, are inspired by the work of the artist Verena Issel. Sometimes I also build models of the places where my stories take place. In that way I can get closer and find out how everything should look.
In general I am very interested in working methods of artists. What do they do to get inspiration and how do they collect their stories. Do you have some things you do often? – like writing, doing daily sketches or collecting something that inspires you?
I'm inspired by situations. Things that people say and how they behave. I also look to other artists and I am often inspired by them, either by style or by their way of thinking. I'm not a collector, I tend to loose everything.
And what comics would you recommend me to read?
Anna Haifisch: The Artist (from Reprodukt).
Max Baitinger: Röhner (from Rotopol press).
Chris Ware: Jimmy Corrigan.
Mai Li Bernard: Pigmentations d'un discours amoureux.
Jillian and Mariko Tamaki: This one summer.
Du kan se mere til Jul Gordons arbejde på Juliagordon.de
Line Refstrup (f. 1975) er illustrator og har taget en kandidat i Visuel Kommunikation fra Kolding Designskole, 2010. Line har bidraget til idoart.dk siden 2014.