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Geneviève Gauckler's Evolution

“I believe a character is an extension, an image of its creator,” Geneviève Gauckler writes from her studio in Paris. “There’s something magic about it. By creating a character or an atmosphere, I try to make something funny, sad, sweet–in a word, emotional–because it creates a link between you, your creation, and the viewer.”

It’s a subject Ms. Gauckler knows quite a bit about. Her iconic, simple, black characters have become her signature work, their expressionless faces telling soft-spoken stories in bold, broad strokes.

Gauckler was born in Lyon, France in 1967, and graduated from the School For Decorative Arts (ENSAD) in Paris in 1991. She spent time working for a comic book-publishing company in between classes, and, when she was finished with school, began creating record sleeves for Laurent Garnier’s F Communications, which she did until 1997. After developing a host of video clips and commercial films for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Dimitri From Paris, she worked as art director on the infamous (and beautifully designed) internet start-up Boo.com until its eventual shut-down; she later went on to help found the groundbreaking art collective Pleix, and through all of this has become one of the biggest names in contemporary illustration and design.

So how, exactly, does she make it all bubble? Waking up early helps. “I’m working very efficiently in the morning, on some jobs that require focusing,” she says. “After lunch, I usually make a break and then I’m working again. I’m trying to find some free time to see some exhibitions or visit my favorite bookshops. Getting creative is not a question of time but a state of mind; in order to get creative, I try to look at many books and to think about the job when I’m half-sleepy. Usually it’s efficient!”

Having spent so much time doing layout and design, Gauckler claims she needed 10 years (after graduating art school) to feel confident enough to develop her own style. Still, it’s not just a matter of sitting down and throwing ink on a blank page. “Right now, I’m trying to create some new characters. It’s a mini-revolution: They all have a nose! As usual, their eyes don’t express anything, they just stand and that’s it. I like the way they behave: they are very passive, they are the observer.”

As for her dream project? “I don’t have any–I already feel extremely lucky to earn my living [from] my passion,” says Gauckler. “If I have a dream, it’s a ‘small’ dream: to get enough free time to work on my new comic book.”

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