In Conversation With: Laurène Boglio

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Laurène Boglio is a French illustrator, graphic designer and current Art Director at the intensely visual independent film magazine Little White Lies.

Having studied in Strasbourg, Laurène has since honed her technique across a broad range of visual medium to produce an idiosyncratic style that is varied but at the same time unmistakably her own. Reading through her client list, that eclecticism shines through. She has worked with everyone from the BFI to Taylor Swift, the Discovery Chanel to Le Chocolat des Français, the BBC and Converse.

We spoke to Laurène to get the low down on working to client briefs, the benefits of agency representation and the importance of taking a break to sneak in a silly gif.

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What are your earliest memories of art and design?

I drew lots as a child and I spent much of my time with my grandmother learning so many different crafts, through activities with her. It was all probably a long way off being called ‘art’, but I really enjoyed it, and it was by far my favourite thing I liked to do.

Who were your inspirations when you were starting out?

I studied graphic design in France with amazing teachers. I really liked M/M, Sagmeister and Petra Mrzyk et Jean-François Moriceau.

What was your first piece of paid commission work and how did you get it?

I think it was during an internship in France, at a publishing company called JBA. I was bored, so I started drawing the office. The boss - Philippe Bissières, who has been an amazing tutor and taught me a lot about the publishing world, then commissioned me to draw the whole office for the company’s New Year in-house publication.

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How has your style evolved from when you began and how difficult was the process of finding it?

I know I probably should’ve done, but I’ve never really tried to have a ‘style’. That’s why my portfolio can look a bit random and all over the place sometimes. Maybe it’s because I haven’t found ‘my style’ yet and it’s still evolving, I have no idea. At the moment I’d like to think that I am free to try everything and be eclectic. I always draw things that make me happy and never try to force a specific style. I just want my art to feel entertaining and exciting, otherwise I lose the love.

You’re well versed in a number of techniques; illustration, type, gifs. Do you have a preference?

I have phases. Sometimes I get obsessed with a new thing that I want to try, so I get stuck on that for a few months and then I’ll go onto another obsession. I think the gifs are probably a constant in my life and work. That hasn’t really changed throughout the years, they still make me feel so happy.

 
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In what ways has working with an agency helped?

When I started working with an agency it made me begin to actually consider myself as an illustrator, as it’s not the main domain I’d studied. My (awesome) agents really help me to feel confident, as well as teaching me to price the work properly, which is so hard at the beginning when you have no idea of how pricing works.

Can you tell us a bit about your role at Little White Lies.

I started working at Little White Lies magazine four years ago. I was the luckiest person to be chosen to work with as a designer, by the super talented AD Timba Smits. I learnt so much from him whilst he was working for the magazine, it was incredible to have the opportunity. He left a year and a half ago, which is when I became Little White Lies’ AD. I am having an amazing time working with the two editors - the infinitely fun, creative and clever David Jenkins and Adam Woodward. I love working and learning from them both.

My role is to plan, from a graphics and art perspective, the whole magazine and to commission international illustrators to work on each issue. Each edition focuses on a specific movie that the editors have selected, then based on that movie we set the style, colours and look for the rest of the magazine.

What does an average work week consist of for you?

I work part time for Little White Lies magazine and the rest of the time I work on my freelance projects, but the best thing is when I have a break and I make a sneaky, silly gif.

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Have you found the artistic community to be supportive?

I feel like everyone in the specific artistic community I have experience of truly respects each other. I’ve never had any problems really. I just feel bad sometimes at Little White Lies, because as an independent magazine we never have huge budgets to pay the illustrators as they deserve to be paid. I am always very thankful to any illustrator who accepts a brief and puts so much love and effort into working with us.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of working to client briefs?

It’s painful when the client doesn’t know what they want and end up not being open minded - it rarely happens to me though, my clients are usually very nice and organised. Another thing that I’ve noticed, which sounds very silly, but it’s actually true - sometimes it’s more annoying to work for free, because it means there can be endless amends, going back and forth, and the person on the other side starts taking you for granted.

Is there anything that has surprised you about the industry?

I am not a big fan of ego fights, so I just stay away from them. I like everything else though.

 

Do you have a dream project?

I have way too many random dream projects, but they come and go. Hmm, I would say maybe working on a longer animated music video? Or covering an entire house of drawings whilst listening to Ace of Base? Tattooing a giant snake on the back of Taylor Swift? Having a drawing-jam with Jean Jullien? Or learning how to properly create hand lettering on shop signs?

What is your go to method for those moments when you’re lacking in inspiration?

It’s funny how the more you try to find inspiration the less you receive it. I guess the antidote is to stop trying and start doing something else, that way your brain works on its own in the background, without the pressure, and then suddenly it tells you its ideas when it’s ready.

What advice would you give to someone looking to begin a career in design?

I believe, by seeing so many talented friends, that you can achieve a successful career without the ‘right’ studies. It’s obviously easier to go to a great school, because that’s where you’ll meet interesting teachers, who’ll help you to skip hours self-learning, but I don’t think it’s a necessity. The main focus is to gravitate around the thing that makes you feel the most alive and excited, so you can more easily accept the highs and lows. Even if the commissioned opportunities aren’t present to express yourself right now, just create for yourself. You should work with passion. What you want to express does need to be created, otherwise you’ll end up mouldy and bitter, and that’s not something I’d recommend.

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VisualsJamal Guthrie