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Exclusive Interview with Artist Petite Madame

73690ff2-9e57-4572-bcf4-96e2dcc2927ePetite Madame is one of the truly amazing fan artists who decorate various fandoms with gorgeous drawings, paintings, etc. I came across her work in the Supernatural fandom and I have been a fan of her work from first sight!  She is well-known for her unique style and use of color as well as some kind of quirky themes.

Would you please give me a little bit of background information on yourself? 

I grew up in Paris, France, and always lived there, except for a few years spent in Japan (good times!). I worked as an anthropologist (my field was Japanese youth and pop culture) before finally dropping everything to become a professional illustrator. Now, I work in Paris under my real name. I live with my boyfriend and our kitty, Tanya.

Where you always interested in art and drawing? 

Yes, absolutely. On the other hand, it would have been hard not to have an interest in art as my aunt was an art teacher. I grew up surrounded by drawing supplies and art books. I started to draw at around seven or eight and took things a bit more seriously from maybe 13-14. I was very influenced by mangas when I was a teenager but as time went by, I started to have more interest in realistic style.

Is art your career or is it something you do as a hobby to relax?  Will you share your career if it isn’t art?  If your career is art focused, what do you do?

As I said above, art is now my job. I absolutely don’t regret this career path compared to what I was doing before. I guess the rigidity of academic life wasn’t for me after all. However, I can say that art is still my hobby too as I draw a lot to enjoy myself.

I always have a fan art on the side and tons of things I want to draw. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in one day. As far as my work is concerned, I draw book covers but also things like wedding invitations or even restaurant menus.

Did you attend art school?  Where?

Nope, never. I’m self-taught. But don’t get me wrong, I WISHED I could have attended an art school. If I could time-travel and talk to my young self, the first thing I would say would be “Stop it with the Anthropology, go to an art school: you’re an artist, dumbo”.

Isn’t it always so much easier to see your path when you look back at things!

One thing that always jumps out at me when I see your pictures is the intensity of the color.  It is one of the ways I can recognize your work before I see your signature. How much thought goes into the colors you use in your pieces?  Do you use color to evoke certain moods or feelings?

I LOVE colors. I’ve never been a fan of restricted palettes and monochromes (except for some B&W pieces here and there). The brighter, the better even when I draw sad artworks. To answer your question, yes, I put lot of thoughts in the colors before starting. The colors are definitely going to set the mood of a pic. I tend to use brown and oranges for intimate and cozy atmospheres and blue/purple for the saddest ones. But it’s not an exact science! You can have a very happy artwork drawn in blue tones. The colors are just a part of the “magic”, the rest is set thanks to characters’ expressions and body language, for instance.

I’m most familiar with your drawings and I think that you use a computer to do some of the work.  Would you be willing to share the evolution of a piece of art with us?  How do you begin; what processes go into the drawing and then how do you know a piece is complete?

You are right about the computer part, I work mainly in Photoshop CS6 and sometimes in Painter 12, an amazing software that emulates traditional medium like oil paintings and watercolors. When it comes to creating an artwork here is how I proceed:

The first step is in my opinion one of the most difficult: I picture the art in my head. I have to know where I’m going before starting. “We’ll see where it goes…” doesn’t work good for me so I have to have a pretty good vision of what the art is going to look like (colors, characters, atmosphere) even before opening Photoshop.

Then, I do what I consider the most boring part: I hunt for reference pictures and yes, references pictures ARE important. I don’t understand this trend amongst young artists, particularly on Tumblr, where being a “good artist” apparently consists in being able to draw without reference at all. I’m into realistic style so I don’t see myself drawing without pics to help me. It’s also one of the reasons why my art is so precise: when I don’t know what something looks like precisely, I go to Google and I look for the right pic to help me. Google is a great tool; I don’t see why I shouldn’t use it. I’m not nostalgic of the time I didn’t have the Internet and I had to spend hours at the library to find the right car or boat picture.

When I finally have all the reference pics I need, I open Photoshop and I start to doodle to see if the image I have in mind works well as a drawing. It’s a necessary step because sometimes what you have in your head seems great but has in fact a lot of flaws when transposed to the PS canvas. Sketching beforehand can avoid a lot of stress and mistakes when working on the final artwork, believe me.

Once I’m sure about the composition, I start to draw my construction lines on separate layers. I’m saying “layers” with an “s” because I have a construction line layer for the background, one for the characters, one for objects in the foreground, etc…

Then, it depends. If it’s a drawing that requires a line art, I work on the line art. I use a round hard edge brush (4px – black) from the PS default set. It’s pretty basic but honestly, it’s the one that works best for me. I grew out of “fancy brushes” for the line art pretty quickly when I started to use Photoshop. I had a “pencil brush phase” but it didn’t last long. I like a tool that gives me the possibility to work precisely and the PS default brush is perfect for that.

If the drawing doesn’t require a line art, I choose my palette and I start to block the colors right away.

The rest is a constant come and go between building up textures and working on details gradually. I have in general 2,3 shadows and highlights layers that I sometimes merge down, sometimes keep as they are to be sure to always be in control of what I want to do and delete something if I need to. I also use brushes from the PS default set but my favorite brushes come from the now famous Mar-ka brushes.

Then, you have a long last step where I carefully work on all the details, like hair, clothes patterns, labels on bottles, etc.

And VOILA! It’s done!

As far as knowing when a piece is complete, I just…know it! It has to click. If I’m not satisfied, I’m letting the art “sleep” during two-three days before coming back to it and look at it with fresh eyes.

I totally get ‘just knowing’ when something is finished.  That is the same way I know when a story or article is complete.

You have used Supernatural and Marvel (Steve and Bucky) as inspirations for your pieces, are there other things or fandoms that inspire you?  Some of your pieces are very unique; I personally adore the Burlesque Pirate 😉 Was that from a prompt or was that all you?

Tons of things! Not really fandoms but I have a lot of things that inspire me. It can be the work of other artists like James Jean or Chen Shu Fen & Pin Fan (two great artists from Taiwan) or designers like J.P Gaultier and Galliano or even movies like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. I also like mangas (dropping the style doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them anymore!) and I’m influenced a lot by them in terms of colors. What inspires me a lot at the moment is Burlesque but also fashion shows from the 2000’s.

Speaking of burlesque, you seem to be interested in my Burlesque Pirate. This one started as a big joke on Twitter. I was complaining about people who were asking me not to draw Dean as a smoker and my stance was simple “It’s a fan art, I can draw the character exactly how I want to. If I want to draw Dean as Pirate Burlesque dancer, it’s MY choice and you have no say in it”. I tried to choose the most ridiculous example possible but for some reasons, my Twitter TL went crazy and asked me to draw this prompt. How could I refuse? ^^ So, even if it wasn’t planned at the start, I worked on this artwork of Dean as a Pirate Burlesque dancer. It’s not meant to be serious at all. It’s ridiculous, over the top whether it’s the subject itself, the clothes or the colors. There is not one thing about this art that should be taken seriously! The funniest thing is that my TL liked it and even my Tumblr followers!

I love the Burlesque Pirate!  It’s just a fun piece of art and certainly unexpected.

Live Journal runs a number of different events throughout the year, some of which pair writers and artists.  Is there one of these events that stands out as a favorite for you?  Will you share the title?

Yes, but I must admit it’s a tie between the Spn J2 Big Bang and the Spn Reverse Bang. Recently, I also really enjoy a lot Spn-Masquerade because it creates a great emulation in the fandom. Also, you have to work fast because the challenge only lasts 15 days or so. Basically, it’s short prompts that have to be filled in a short amount of time. You don’t have a story to read, you have to create something with a minimum of information, be creative… while being sure to please the OP and staying close to the spirit of the prompt. Very entertaining. What I also love is that, even if it’s a kink community (Spn-Masquerade being the new Spn-Blindfold), you have prompts that aren’t kinky at all but that people really want to see drawn like Dean with long hair or Jared as Thor.

I love paging through the completed projects from those challenges. 

Did you participate in the Supernatural Art Show that occurred this past fall?  Any plans to participate in the summer show?  If you did participate, what did you think of the experience?  The online art show idea seemed, at least to me, to be pretty unique.

Yes, I did I drew three artworks, one of J2, one of Sam/Dean and one of Dean/Cas. It was a lot of fun. The mods gave us time to prepare. It’s was also interesting because The Spn Show was a hashtag on Twitter so everybody could post what they wanted. I’m definitely gonna try to draw at least a couple of pieces for the summer show but to be really frank, I have no idea what.

Where can readers find more of your work?  Do you take commissions?  If so, how do you prefer that people contact you?

I’m sorry, I don’t take commissions. I already have my plate full because of my job and also, I need a minimum of free time to work on my various fandom projects.

People can find me mainly on Tumblr. I have three art accounts there.

Petite-Madame, the mothership. I post mainly stand alone pieces there but also sketches and WIPs

The Life of Bucky Barnes, my Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes projects that depicts the (not always) happy life of a post-recovery Bucky through his many Instagram pictures. (Also on Instagram)

The Life of Dean Winchester, my latest project. Gen. The life of Dean through his Instagram, an account that he has problems protecting from his brother’s nerdy skills. Basically, the account is hacked by Sam every two weeks. (Also on Instagram)

One last question.  Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us and the word ‘nerdy’ can mean many different things to different people.  What is something that you do that you think qualifies you to talk nerdy?

I guess that saying “I’m done with PVC figures” and ordering a Funko pop or a Nendroid the following day totally counts as talking nerdy. Seriously, I have to stop it with this nonsense but I can’t help it! My latest ones are Steve and Bucky Chaoer chibies figures. They have cat and fox ears and tails. I also bought a tiny Deadpool from Hot Toys. I couldn’t resist, OK? He was small and cute.

I also can’t help explaining the Easter eggs in super hero movies at the point that my poor BF is fed up because “P-m, I DIDN’T ASK!!”. I’m also an art book nerd. Like the PVC figures it’s always “Ok, the house is full of that shit, I don’t need another one!” and BAM! A couple of days later, I go to second hand shops and I come back with something not feeling guilty at all because “It was a great deal and honestly, look! It’s such an awesome book, it would have been a pity to miss it, don’t you think?”

Spoken like a true fan!  Thank you so very much for taking the time to talk with us.   I will continue to look for new art works on your IG accounts. 

If you like what you see here, be sure to follow Petite Madame at Instagram where you will find many more of her beautiful artworks.

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