La vérité sur les fantômes by Lisa Blumen
Where do you come from and what is your background?
I live and work in Strasbourg as a writer and an illustrator. I’ve studied at HEAR school (Haute École des Arts du Rhin). I really like both writing and illustrating my own stories. I think I conceptualize the writing process with a visual angle. Most of the time, I think about keyframes, and I can build my stories based on it. And most of the time, those images don’t need texts. For me, images are as important as text. I’m working on children’s books (La vérité sur les fantômes) or comics. My first published comics will be released in 2021 (by Employé du moi publisher). In that story, we follow several characters just before the end of the world. I’m also working for press (like Topo, Revue dessinée, Astrapi). I like keeping my drawings spontaneous, and working on short projects, without constraints, that’s why I’m a part of a collective of illustrators called les Éditions pratique, co-funded with really good friends.
What’s the starting point of your book La vérité sur les fantômes?
I’ve been drawing ghosts for several years now. The first time I drew one, it was for a very pragmatic reason: I had a teacher at school who (legitimately) criticized the way I were drawing faces. I were so annoyed, I started to place sheets above the heads. But I think we never do things by pure coincidence… It was not a very easy year for me because I was trying to get over grief. I started to ask myself why was I drawing ghosts? I wrote some quite personal stories with these characters, then gradually I got used to their presence. And finally, it was quite therapeutic to draw them. Gradually they appeared to be very nice to me and after all quite mundane. The idea for the book came to me as a continuation of that. I had fun drawing them in any occasion, in any position… These are just draped characters as touching and grotesque as us.
What is your favorite technique(s)?
I have the feeling that I am always in research when drawing, I left school a short time ago. I try to vary my techniques and not limit myself in their uses. I like to mix colored pencils, water painting and recently I got into ink. But the technique I’m most comfortable with are alcohol markers (that’s what I used for La vérité sur les fantômes). I love the transparencies and overlays that one can obtain with markers. But I hope to stay in this technical renewal for a long time! I find it quite scary when one have found THE technique one likes and stick to it, you may end up having automatisms and I think that’s when boredom can arise.
Do you believe in ghosts? What is your connection with them?
I don’t believe in ghosts. Perhaps out of concern for them. I would not like to know that the missing ones spend their time staring at us without being able to act… I hope they have better things to do. On the other hand, I think that talking about ghosts is a real therapeutic tool as I said above. It is a very beautiful symbol of the memories that we have for a person who no longer exists in our reality. Grieving is a bit like being in limbo with your loved one. To still feel his presence while there is only silence. Finally, the shape of the phantom is the only metaphor we know to speak of this in-between, this absurd void. If we use this character of the ghost it is often to be able to communicate one last time with the deceased, to give them substance to say goodbye and to let them take the immaterial form of memories.
Lisa Blumen instagram: @superlisablumen
© Lisa Blumen