Artist Of The Month: Tallulah Fontaine

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Tallulah Fontaine's airy style makes the every day appear as something spectacular. Her gentle illustrated tales are formed in a calming muted palate which creates the feeling of wading without a care, not an unwelcome sensation on a Monday morning. We got hold of Tallulah to get the skinny on using art to be politically active, taking care of your friendships and what she has in store for us next.

Interview by Rhiannon Thornton

Hi Tallulah, When did your interest in illustration start, was it an obvious career route for you?

I never really planned on becoming an artist and I didn't even really know what an illustrator was in my early 20's. I knew I wanted to work in art in some way and planned on getting an art history degree and maybe working in a gallery or teaching. I was incredibly self-conscious about my own drawings and only did it privately when I had some spare time. Friends really encouraged me to keep going and started hiring me for show posters and 7" covers. Eventually it just grew from there and I became much more comfortable with my work and sharing it with others.

Your subjects seem to epitomize a distinct calmness, what do you aim to emote from onlookers with your illustrations?

I'm really open to people taking what they want from my artwork. For commission work, you definitely have to think about what the client might interpret but for personal work I really don't worry so much.

Your work homes in on methods of self-care, what are your top three tips for anyone who needs some TLC?

I've found it really helpful to take some time each day to either go for a walk or exercise. I always thought I would hate yoga but I've been really into it since I moved back to LA. I work from home and it's been so good for me to get out of the house once a day to go to a class.

I also really love going to soak at the Korean spa. It's so nice for you skin! I bring my own little scrubby mitts. And if you are feeling a little down, spend time with your girlfriends! Take care of your relationships with others and they'll take care of you.

Has your style come relevantly naturally to you or did it take some work to get to where you are now?

It took some time for sure. What materials I use has made the biggest difference and learning to get better at using them.

You illustrated a postcard for the women's march which was free to download so people can write to their local representatives, how important is it to use your skills as an artist to speak up?

It's super important! I live in the US but I am a Canadian citizen and sometimes I feel so helpless because I can't actually vote or sign petitions. If there is a way I can contribute with the art that I make, I am happy to! I feel like there is some responsibility as a female artist with a platform that can reach so many people.

You've spoke previously about your love of Zine culture, where does this stem from?

When I first moved to Montreal after high school I lived with a girl who worked at Drawn & Quarterly. She got me really into comics and told me about some of the zine fairs happening in the city. I was super excited to discover all this work and loved the idea of sharing small stories and drawings in this form.

What life lessons have you learnt since working as a freelancer?

Ah there has been a few. Mostly trying to get better at scheduling, running a business and managing finances.

You're a keen collector of plants, what's your favourite type of flora?

I love all the plants growing around my neighbourhood in Silverlake. Lots of roses, agave and palm trees. My favourite house plant is my hoya.

You portray women quite a lot, do you create characters for each girl or is it that you place a little piece of yourself in each one?

I mostly draw different versions of my friends Maddy and Megan and myself.

Having worked with clients like Purity Ring and Vice, do you feel you get to use the same amount of creativity with clients as you would when working on something personal?

It's definitely not the same and it does differ from client to client. Editorial work like what I do for Vice is specific to what the piece is about but they do still give me a certain amount of flexibility. I work with an art director and so they have input and ideas that influence the work.

My relationship with Purity Ring is a little different since we have worked together for many years and have been friends for even longer. It's much more of a partnership and one that I could never expect to have with another client.

What are you working on now and do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?

Finishing up my 6 month contract with Vice as the Andrew W.K. column I have been working on is about to conclude. I've started working on a new editorial series for west elm's blog and am trying to make more time for my own work. Including a comic that is coming out later this summer.

To keep up to date by following on Instagram or check out what's available to buy here.