We’re catching up with Apollonia Saintclair, previously featured by our EIC, Dustin Hollywood. NAKID is checking back in to see some fresh work from easily one of the most arousing artists to put ink to paper since Albrecht Dürer; depending on what turns you on. #apocalypticlithographs anyone? AH
Where did you grow up and what effect do you think this had on you?
I grew up pretty lonely in a very open-minded environment. I was encouraged to be curious and to go looking for answers to questions that came to my mind. I also had the chance to access a large library covering many fields of culture. I think I understood early on that we are all doomed to be self-taught. I of course met with teachers who helped me learn or shook me out of misconceptions, but basically, the real momentum for growth is individual.
When and how did you start making illustrations?
I always had an interest in stories and in particular to the fact that all good stories reveal the hidden, the intimate face of reality. That side that is behind the masks. I’ve been imagining and writing tales forever, and I’ve always been sketching stuff for my personal use. I did that without real personal or professional pride, just to entertain myself, like millions of people probably do to a certain degree. I knew of course many masters in literature and art, and I admired them, attracted by the universe they had managed to create. In 2012, there was a moment of crystallization because I began, after a long pause, to draw a lot, every day in fact. I suddenly realized that I not only wanted to start telling my own stories, but I could gradually acquire the technique to put them on paper. I started to read again the classic European comic I liked so much, trying to figure how they had engineered their work and how I could adapt that to my needs.
On what thoughts or under what mood do you mostly find yourself making art?
Making a drawing is a way to please me on a very deep level. I’m like an atom that enters a higher energy level. I see a picture or I experience a situation and I automatically create a scenario in my mind. I see a picture that concentrates that intuition and immediately, I wonder how the draw it. Sometimes though I have to give up, because I do not have sufficient or appropriate technique. I think that basically, I try to recreate the enjoyment I felt in seeing certain movies or reading some books that have essential significance for me. It is a kind of journey, on my own legs, to revisit these magical places.
What’s your main source of inspiration aside from sexuality?
Life in itself, probably. I am interested in wonders – and demons. We are all made of mud, yet we all have moments when we transcend the everyday. Sometimes it is in someone’s arms, sometimes on top of a mountain; sometimes even in the pale light from a subway station … These moments are like images etched in our memories. Because these are meaningful images, individually or collectively. I am looking for those moments when we see images beyond images, such as these ghosts you see sometimes in the twilight. Sexuality on the other hand is an interesting and very revealing angle because it is literally a melee with life.
Are there any influences, artists you admire that have/had an impact on your direction?
They are too numerous to mention … Especially in literature. I am an omnivore. Obviously I’m in awe in front Manara and Moebius. I’m also very fond of Beardsley and Finlay and of course Leonardo and Caravaggio. Btw, this is what I love about sharing my work: drawing after drawing, I discover new artists and their work, simply because the fans point out similarities to what I do.
Your art is mostly provocative and enigmatic, what do your illustrations mean to you?
It is easy to find a dark side or magic to every thing; it depends on the perspective one chooses. I am passionate about the ambiguous situations where, finally, the interpretation depends mostly on the viewer. Images are simultaneously the product of reflection of what one is and what one sees. We are in fact the shadows of our fears and desires: I try to put it all in my pictures.
Describe a typical day of yours
It does not exist … I usually draws very early in the morning and late in the night beginning from dusk. In between, I work to fill the cooking pot … There are days when I draw twelve hours on. Others, I do not touch my pens. But I guess that part of me is always on the lookout for a new image.
Our society is still very conservative. How do viewers generally respond to your work?
Well, I live in Europe and one of the perks of the Old World is that it still quite liberal with sexuality. There is a trend toward conservatism though and a tiny minority of fundamentalists of all banks trying to impose a very limited and literal vision of life. However when I see the bloom of fresh and unconstrained creativity on the internet, I feel very confident that despite this, we are moving in the right direction. Most of people who follow my work do that with benevolence, even if I already had my Instagram and Facebook accounts deleted because, unfortunately, someone reported my work.
What mediums do you use?
I used to work analog but now I work mainly digital with a tablet, for convenience but I always try to keep the look and feel from Indian ink/engravings. These are all offsprings from a tradition of graphical reduction I fancy very much.
What are your thoughts on sexual identity? Sexual expression; and repression?
I read somewhere that native Americans recognized up to five different genders and that they honored them equally. This corresponds to my idea of sexual identity. Beyond the biological characters which in themselves are not necessarily unambiguous, what matters is how a person feels. If you exclude the theme of procreation, the world is not constituted by the male/female binomial, but rather a continuum that includes a multitude of gradations which constitute the richness of humanity. But most of all, I consider sexual identity as a private matter, where political or societal authorities should interfere as little as possible.