The Tools Artists Use

Aurélie Neyret

Posted on March 26, 2010 | Comments

Aurélie Neyret is an artist and illustrator living in Rhône, France.

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What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

I enjoy both traditional and digital processes and try to practice both. For my professional work though, I often go digitally. I'm more comfortable with, and it's faster for me. I can come back on any step of my process, and I love the technical possibilities that digital provides. I use a Wacom tablet and Photoshop CS4. I start from zero in Photoshop, so my digital work is 100% digital. But I also love drawing with good old pens and pencils. Recently my favorite pencil is a Conté Pierre Noire, I love it because it makes really deep blacks. My friend Victoria Maderna also gave me a wonderful little pencil: Schwarz Black soft, by Faber Castell. It's soft and oily, but not greasy. Sometimes I draw with pens as well. For the colors, I'm an addict of watercolors.

If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

I do not prefer pen rather than other medium, but sometimes I feel like drawing with them. My favorites are Pilots, I have several of that brand. I try to use different sizes in the same drawing, but depends, sometimes I start doodling with a ball pen and I end up filling a full page. Another one that I find very useful, is this Japanese ink pen, with a brush: Pentel GFKP. The brush is really good, allowing to vary the line density, and easier to carry on than an ink bottle.

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How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers?

As I said, my favorites are watercolors. These are awesome and also frustrating to use, but I love it. I have two boxes of Winsor & Newton watercolors, had them for ages, and they still feel kind of magic. Plus you can take them anywhere, they fit in any pocket! It happens that I use color pencils as well, or acrylics, but I'm not that good with paint. I never trieds oils, and I feel quite ashamed about that haha! In the near future I would like to practice more painting though.

Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

I'm quite difficult about paper. For exemple, I don't like Moleskine paper much, because it's yellow and you can't really add water on it. They are good for pens though. I often prefer watercolor paper, or Canson. About sketchbooks, a friend of mine who is an artist too, Jens Claessens, always buy these A4 and A5 books for me, in a little art store of his town. They don't have any particular brand I guess, they are only huge books with an hard cover, black or blue, with nothing on it, and the paper is perfect for me. That said, depending of the context, I draw on anything, like on a paper napkin, wood, stones, or the walls of my bedroom...

Have you ever tried a new pen (or paper, etc) from reading about it, or seeing the results in another artist's work?

I don't recall this happened, except maybe in school, trying out my schoolmates's tools. I like being inspired by others but I try not to “copy” other artists process too much. I would be afraid of losing my own personality by trying the tricks of other artists. That said, most of the mediums I use are pretty common. I think it's how an artist uses a tool that makes it unique, more than the tool itself.

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If you create purely-digital art, what are the software programs you use? Is one used more than another?

I only use Photoshop. I used to mess around a little bit in Illustrator and Painter few years ago, but not seriously. I'm a bit of a noob!

If you work both digitally and non-digitally, which do you find yourself doing more? Is there a reason you would prefer one of the other? Is it because of the tools available in either space?

I work digitally for my commission work (for press, graphic novels, illustrations for clients), because it's easier. I love the freedom that digital process provides me. For quite a long time I didn't had a scanner, so I learned to draw everything digitally, without traditional sketching. It was more a constraint at the beginning, but in the end it made things easier. I developed my style this way and I can work quite fast now. For my own pleasure I still draw traditionally though, but less than digitally. I sell original artworks on Etsy. I do some when I have time to produce stuff just for fun. No pressure. It seems more difficult for me to work traditionally for a client. I'm not confident enough with it, less practice.

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I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it'’s looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

Definitely all of the above! It would be crazy to say that it's not helpful. Not especially for creating art, there is tons of full traditional artists that don't really need a computer as a tool of creation. But for creating a network, contacts in the industry, for job seeking, to have a website, to communicate with clients, to find reference, for inspiration, etc. Computers and the internet are obviously a huge resource.

Like mostly everything else, it also can be a huge distraction and a tool of procrastination. It's up to people to use it in a clever way. I'm still trying to figure it out!

Thanks Aurélie!

Aurélie Neyret can be found online at her weblog Clo! and on Twitter (@ZeuClo). Prints of her work can be found at INPRNT and some originals are available on Etsy.

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