Marion Arbona (born in France) creates amazingly beautiful and fun characters that delight kids and grownups all alike. Marion obtained an animation film diploma from the Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs of Paris and later settled in Montreal, Canada. Her colorful characters come in all shapes and sizes with lots of decoration and fanfare. In addition to her illustration and animation work, Mariona also creates lovely matryoshka dolls (Russian dolls). Here’s our Q&A with this very imaginative illustrator:
My name is Marion Arbona and I’m an illustrator. I was born in France in early twenties. I studying the decorative arts in Paris in animation. I’ve been living in Canada for 9 years. This is where I started working as an illustrator. Lately I’m back in France, and I continue to illustrate books, posters and all kinds of things!
How did you get into arts and illustrations?
I always wanted to make an artistic profession but when I was little I had no idea of the divisions that existed in the field of art. Then I decided to learn animation and studied it systematically. After graduating in Montreal I began sending my drawings to animation studios and publishers. They took note of my work very quickly and offered me lots of assignments. This way I became illustrator, by chance and I have no regrets at all!
I love to draw. So when I stop work on my contracts I often do personal projects. I love the objects and I love drawing on them, where there’s a lot of scope of illustrations. That’s how I started making matryoshkas. I also drew on a whole series of pebbles. It is always a very relaxing work. I do not feel an obligation to perform well on others’ expections. I just derive the pleasure of drawing and somehow I think it enriches my catalogue.
Your work is full of fun and characters are extremely amusing! Are you like them inside?
I’m like them outside too!
Yes, I love funny things, I am rather a “good friend who loves jokes.” Early in my career in illustration, I had to illustrate many texts about death, sick children, cancer, etc. I needed these work for making a living, so I accepted them but it soon began to take its toll on me. I was fed up and totally exhausted. Now I hardly accept such contracts. I want to create fancy or funny, weird, wacky things. This way I find myself.
Being creative is something that I have no control on. It comes once at a time. The ideas often come before I fall asleep, and the next day I try to make them, or I take notes. Then comes the real part. For these ideas to get life is often the most complicated, so I draw a lot, I start, I erase… it’s a bit of a struggle between what I have in my head and what my hands are capable to accomplish. And often I am disappointed with the result. I believe that a perfect work of art exists only in fantasy.
What kind of art supplies and materials do you use at work? Do you also use digital tools and software for making illustrations?
I mostly use gouache and pencil. Those are my two favorite mediums. I also use a lot of ink and Poscas. I prefer to draw on very thick cardboards because it gives a concrete finish to my work. I also sometimes use the computer. I happen to rework images digitally, or make digital coloring. But I cannot draw directly on my tablet. I need to feel the grain of paper to create a drawing.
In general, my favorite project is the most recent one I just finished. At the moment it is my ABC Book! This is my first book without an author: a personal project that I developed over three years back. I proposed to several publishers, but everyone had his sets of problems. The editor with whom I I wanted to work with left the project and the publisher went bankrupt. When I finally got the book in my hands I was really happy. It was a dream that took a lot of time to come true.
Tell us about your achievements, awards, publications, etc.
I got several awards in the United State and Canada and appeared in many articles around the world. These are things that are fun because these give legitimacy to my work. I am someone who always has lots of doubts and questions. I just feel a bit reassured to see my work getting recognition and reward. I say just that somehow I’m still in my place, and I have to keep working to improve.
I still have 3000 projects in my head!!!
Specifically, I am working on several children’s books. I have a lot of contracts already signed. But I would also find time to develop a graphic novel project for adult and I’ll I do this with a buddy. I would also like to develop more and more personal projects full of ideas, games, and I hope to find time for all these things.
Please share your favorite stuff: artists, quotes, movies, books, music etc.
There are so many things I like about it will be hard to choose!
Jerome Bosch is indeed one of my most favorite artists but I also like contemporary artists: David Altmejd, Olaf Hajek.. a young illustrator. I love Simone Rea, Beatrice Alemagna. A few months ago I saw the show “The walls whisper” by Aurélia Thierré. It’s one of the best shows I’ve seen in my life. I was really crying because it was so beautiful, and I finally felt “complete”. I also love the shows of his brother James Thierré.
I loved the TV series Utopia. I just finished the book “Brothers” by Yu Hua and I loved it.
In short, there are so many things that I like and love.
Something to say to our readers or aspiring artists:
I can say one thing that I think is most important: do not try to be trendy. That’s my motto!