As Hang-Up releases Delphine Lebourgeois’s latest edition, we caught up with the artist for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how it was made…
On her inspiration…
The jumping off point for the print was a few black and white line drawings that I made for the Art Car Boot Fair that featured dodgems. Those drawings included sleeping girls or daydreaming ones who were lost in thought. But, for the print, I wanted the woman to be more assertive and look directly at the viewer. It’s not something I’ve done in the past (all my smoking characters usually look away), but it seemed important to make this woman present given the current political climate.
Ten per cent of the profits will go towards Maya Centre, a charity that offers free counselling to women on low incomes. I’m a true believer in therapy, and I care deeply about women and women’s issues so this felt like the perfect choice.
Delphine Lebourgeois during the proofing process at Jealous Print Studio, London.
On finding clues in the work…
I wanted to create a sense of space so the background is meant to convey serenity – a bit like a sanctuary. But the tattoos on the woman tell a story of hardship, also echoed by the two characters hidden in the mountains. It’s something that counterbalances the apparent calmness.
The gesture of smoking is a recurrent theme in my work. I first started drawing women smoking in 2015, at a time when I was going through some personal difficulties: I found it quite cathartic. The idea behind my smokers is to symbolise a “not a care in the world” attitude. Nowadays, smoking is perceived as an antisocial activity, but in the past it was emancipating. Plus, it has that little self-destructive charge of freedom and rebellion.
Details of 'Good Morning Trouble'
"I wanted to create a sense of space so the background is meant to convey serenity – a bit like a sanctuary. But the tattoos on the woman tell a story of hardship, also echoed by the two characters hidden in the mountains."
On doing nothing…
The print reflects my fascination with the lost art of idleness – to really do nothing is an achievement! Baths and train rides are best for that as they allow ideas to flow. As well as this, waiting for something or someone provides this suspended time which I find precious nowadays. In a society dedicated to performance, action and speed, being idle is a little rebellion. For me it is always tainted with a tiny hint of guilt, but I do it anyway... It's like having a secret.
'Whatever' a sold out edition from the artist's past series of works entitled Idlers.
On the printing process…
Prints are always a long winded affair. The drawings are done by hand with pencil, then scanned. I then compose and colour the final image on a computer. This one went through many stages. The figure was different at the start: I tried various hair styles and settled for shaved in the end, to evoke Constance Debré, a French author I’m reading at the moment.
Work in progress of 'Good Morning Trouble'
Colours are a delicate exercise. Because the image is crafted on a computer, the possibilities seem endless – but finding the right harmony is actually quite specific. Then, when we were looking at the proof at Jealous, we started talking about ways in which the print could be embellished. I liked the idea of adding pearlescent ink on the ground to show that it’s icy. I also add hand-finished details to my prints to give texture, shine and colour and make each one unique and special.
Print proofing at Jealous Print Studio
On being in this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition…
This year I was accepted into the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, which felt fantastic! The selected work, Holiday, has themes that can be read in a similar way to this print, although that piece has an environmental subtext. It’s about climate change and the reactions it can trigger.
Good Morning Trouble has an edition size of just 20, all hand-finished. Get in touch to discuss purchasing one.
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