Girl Trip Photographers in Residence Photography

An Interview with Emmanuelle Ly

When did you begin making art and why?

I’ve always been drawing. I think it’s a childhood passion. At 7 years old, one of my aunts bought me a book of Henri Matisse. It was an awesome gift with pretty shapes and colors. I began to copy and reproduce what I saw all around me. I also remember my sister and I used to draw handmade fashion catalogs, greeting cards, bookmarks and other DIY stuff like that. I think that drawing is a good hobby! You can draw everywhere and everybody can do it. I like the fact that it’s accessible to everyone, you just need a sheet of paper and a pencil!

What inspired you to become an artist?

I was a teen, I went to a contemporary art exhibition for the first time and the artworks provided me such joy and happiness! It was like a love at first sight. Then to study in a fine art school was absolutely obvious for me. I wanted to continue to feel this same fleeting emotion that I have in my first discovery of contemporary art. Perhaps being an artist is like doing meditation or yoga!

What is your advice to younger artists?

Tenacity is one of the key. Keep going!
There’s a good quote from Samuel Beckett, it’s a mantra for me:“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” 

Are there any artists that inspire you in particular?

There’s too many major geniuses in art history ! I love unavoidable icons because their lives are so intense! Their biographies and personal diaries are very inspirational. Generally, I like artists who devote fervently their entire lives to their work, struggling everyday. For example I have an unconditional admiration for Frida Kahlo.There is also Aby Warburg, a german art historian, whose work is essential for me. In the middle of the XX° century, he started to compose an Atlas on which were pinned nearly 1000 pictures from books, magazines, newspaper and other daily life sources. That’s so impressive and inspiring.

What do you seek to express, capture, or reveal in your work?

I started my actual series of drawings because I wanted to realize a 365 day challenge. It’s a kind of graphic experiment lab. Then, in 2012, I opened my blog so that everyone could follow my project via internet. With this daily artwork, I think I try to build my own visual archive. I would like to create an illustrated pantheon or a huge time capsule to share with other people across the globe. You know, I really enjoy personal diaries and travelogues because they’re a good way to look back accumulating miscellaneous fragments of your past. I’m seeking something that can evolve with me, catching my state of mind, capturing l’air du temps. Moreover, with all these social medias, it’s really interesting working on the border between intimate and extimate areas. I’m still wondering what is anecdotal, personal memories and collective remembrance nowadays?

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