1. Bonjour Diane ! Could you briefly introduce yourself and tell us what is your background and what you do?
With pleasure! I am a Freelance Illustrator, known under the artist name « Tagadiane ». Most of the time, I work with companies on their marketing campaigns and social media to enhance them through illustration. I also do private commissions and fingers crossed, maybe some children’s book soon. but it’s a secret 😉 I also have a comic blog in French and I am developing a branch of it via Instagram, oriented around my Migraine character.
I’ve been suffering of migraines for years and I really enjoy making something funny out of a rather miserable situation. I studied Applied Art in Paris since I was 15, then got a BA in Product Design. As I wanted to be bilingual, I decided to move to UK and re-do a Bachelor in Product Design just so I could soak in the language and culture. That’s where I started doing illustration, just for myself. It quickly appeared I was having way more fun doing that and started freelancing, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since!
2. Walk us through your main character, La Tagadiane, how was she born ?
La Tagadiane is me, basically! I always liked to make people laugh and find the funny in every day situations. While I was at University, I started sketching my adventures or weird things I would see in this new culture. I would send them to my friends and family to keep them posted on what was going on, almost like a drawn phone call. When It got a bit complicated to send them to so many people, I started putting it on a blog. I was also hoping it would encourage me to be more productive too. And it grew from there! But Tagadiane is just me. It’s very funny when people tell me « oh you look so much like your blog character ». Actually, she’s the one who looks like me 🙂
3. Which tools are you using for your illustration ? Is it all digital ?
To me, nothing replaces the feel of real pen and paper. I still draw all my illustrations with pencil and then usually indian Ink with an old quill I love, or brush or a pen. I’m always happier with the result. Then for colour, as much as I love water colour, I tend to scan, clean and do the colour digitally with good old photoshop, as this way, I’m sure the colour will end up exactly the way I want on various media. Otherwise I’m always disappointed with how the colours look when digitalized or printed. I’m also playing a lot more with layered textures lately which is proving to be really fun.
4. Tagadiane has many adventures, are they all autobiographical or is there some fiction too ?
Most of it is « autobiographical » even though it seems to grand of a word to use. There isn’t really a plan regarding how I present myself. Of course, in the case of my migraine series, I don’t have a real anvil jumping on my head but it’s definitely how it feels to me. Let’s say that it’s more « How I see the world » if it makes sense. But I promise you, 99% of those silly things really do happen to me!
5. Has your blog ever helped you in finding freelance work before aside from your portfolio ? Directly or indirectly ?
I have to say I owe most of my work to my blog! That’s how I got my first contract, and still nowadays, many of my first contact will be in the shape of » I saw your blog and really like it. Would you be able to do …… ? ». If anything, my portfolio comes second, people contact me and i can then send them the part of my portfolio that matches their needs. I am so grateful I had this idea and stuck to it, even though I would never have imagined how far it would go.
6. You are a very busy woman, how do you find the time to nourish your blog ?
Well I know it’s in my best interest. I use it both as a training tool to keep sketching and improving my style, and it’s also my best business card. A well fed social media platform, with regular and consistent work shows you’re reliable and know your stuff. I also learnt to draw quickly and not overy think everything before posting. The goal is to translate that funny idea that came to my mind, not re-do every single line until they are worthy of Leonardo Da Vinci. They are not gonna be. But If they get my idea across, and looks nice and clear, then of it goes. Otherwise you can drive yourself crazy. All in all, I treat it as a contract by itself that needs to be done. I am not always as regular as I wish to be, but as long as I do the best I could, I’m happy.
7. For how long have you been drawing ? What is your relationship with this media ?
I have been drawing every day since I’m 15. That’s when I started studying Applied Art. And like anything that you wish to become very good at, it needs to be a daily habit. But it’s so second nature now, I can’t imagine not drawing. That’s how my brain works, it’s all a mix of sounds, images, tastes, words, colours and drawings. I love it. I love drawing little moments I wish to keep forever. If anything, the most peaceful I can get is when I’m busy drawing something.
8. Is there a particular project that you’ve done that you are the most proud of ?
Not so much a project, but I’m proud of 2 things: following the gut instinct that told me to leave my french comfort (but not really happy) zone and plunge head first in other cultures even though I wasn’t really speaking the language (I moved to UK with basic school english and moved to Italy without really speaking a word of it). And I’m also very proud to never have given up on what makes me happy, even when the rest of the world sees it as a childish occupation. I’m lucky that I had the best parents ever and they really supported and encouraged me to do that thing that I love doing. IT’s not an easy route but now, most people sight with envy when I say I adore my job.
9. Can you choose 3 drawings that are the most meaningful to you and tell us all about them (we are curious !)
Gosh, so hard to choose!
First is the first appearance of my Migraine character. It’s far from perfect, but it was the first time trying to approach a delicate subject for me. I’ve had them for almost a decade but it feels so debilitating I have had the hardest time talking about it. I didn’t want people to think less of me or see me as « sick », « weak » or « unreliable ». Starting to draw about it actually makes it easier to deal with, especially since so many people reached in the same condition reached out to me.
The second one I love for so many reasons. I took the picture myself on a glorious sunny day, my boyfriend had suggested a lunch break pic nic near his work. He said he found a spot I would like so I joined him to this stunning blossoming cherry tree in Regent Park (Cherry Blossom trees make me incredibly happy) I was such a nice time, we were laughing, chatting, being silly as usual. When he left, I allowed myself ages to admire the tree and take pictures. When I got home I drew the characters to be fitted in the picture, and sent it to him as a thank you. I think it’s one of the first time I drew him too. It goes with our love of marital art (we both practise Kung Fu), translates my feeling that we have each other’s back and I know he loves how he’s represented there. It stands as a memory of a pretty perfect moment.
And the last drawing is actually the one that came first to my mind and is the one I’m the happiest to have drawn I think, even if the story is sad. My Beloved grandma, my model of elegance, sadly passed away in 2007. She adored little blue tits who always came to see her in her garden and I have been drawing / making little piece of art with blue tits for her for as long as I can remember. It became our thing. When she passed away, my mum asked me if I would draw one to have engraved in marble on her grave. It was hard at the time, but I wanted to do my very best and did this one. I still like it, and makes me think of her every time.
10. Are you working on any particular project right now ?
I’m really pushing myself to make the book around migraine I have had in mind for a while. It’s rather scary because my world is usually quite happy and colourful. Chronic illness is the otherside of the spectrum, it can get pretty gloomy and that’s what I want to avoid. I’m hoping to find that balance of making justice to what it is while making people laugh about it. We shall see!
11. What is your favourite colour ?
Red! A bright, vibrant, feisty, passionate, full of energy red! I vary between slightly orange, pink or blue undertones. It’s easy to spot, there’s always touch of it in my work.