Julia Dufossés editorial illustrations, impressed by retro airbrush methods

The illustrator Julia Dufossé grew up in a creative household and leafed through her parents' book collection about art, furniture and architecture at a young age. “When I was about seven years old, I was obsessed with the pop art movement. I made These big abstract canvases and paintings with messages, ”says Dufossé. "One of them that I remember very well, mostly because I still have it and still make me laugh. It's just a simple red background with the word" art "in large capital letters in yellow. I yearn me today after this kind of negligence and security in my work. "

Dufossé was born in France, but now lives in Chicago. In high school, she stopped painting and drawing, focusing more on science. It took her a while to realize that the visual part of her life was missing. "I went to university with the wrong ideas. When I left high school and maybe because of what I had taken in from school, I was convinced that only a career in medicine or engineering would fulfill me, ”she explains.

After deciding that medicine was not for her, she switched to reading, writing and history at the university and even applied for a doctoral program with the idea of ​​becoming a historian or professor, but something was still missing. "When I finished my doctorate, I hadn't used a pencil (to draw) for years, I had no idea what an illustrator was doing, no idea how to use Photoshop or Illustrator, no idea what my style was." remembers Dufossé. “I had to find out all of this myself after my formal training. My wife, Kate Dehler, who is one of the most talented illustrators I know, really encouraged me and helped me develop my voice. "

In recent years, Dufossé has worked to build a portfolio full of warm, nostalgic and surreal illustrations. Although she works digitally, she is inspired by airbrush artists from the 70s and 80s. “I think airbrush art can be so exhilarating and fresh. It has the amazing property of being almost a bit too real or too shiny, ”says Dufossé. “Everything seems to look like a sublimated version of reality. I hope that one day my work can create this surreal atmosphere. "

Illustration for MIT Technology Review

At the moment, Dufossé is flexing her creative muscles in the world of editorial illustration and her client list includes MIT Technology Review, Bandcamp and Medium. "I love the intellectual challenge of quickly developing new concepts and ideas," says the illustrator.

When Dufossé starts a new piece, she throws herself into the reference material, often goes beyond the article she received, and does additional research to ensure that she understands the history and basics of a topic. "I tend to develop ideas in writing and then think about how I can visualize them," she explains. "I'm pretty ruthless with the ideas that I continue to research. I eliminate many concepts until I have two or three that really upset me. After that, I usually make sketches and then take the piece to the final stage."

Illustration for Washington PostSpot illustration for band camp

For these early sketches, Dufossé usually works with Procreate on her iPad Pro, because it gives her more room to experiment with compositions. "I can try out different ideas without being too valuable, and that saves me a lot of time," she says. After this phase, Dufossé brings her sketches to Photoshop, where she does most of her work.

"My techniques mimic the traditional airbrush method of masking shapes and airbrushes one by one within the masks," she explains. “The use of digital tools naturally saves me a lot of time and pain, especially compared to conventional airbrushers. It is a much more forgiving process. Depending on how detailed the piece is, it can get boring and repetitive, but I really like to work on really small details. "

It is this special attention to detail that gives Dufossé's illustrations such wonderful textures and a hint of advertising posters from a bygone era. Her focus on the honing process came from the advice of her illustrator colleague Thibaud Herem, who was interviewed by Dufossé in the podcast that she leads with Dehler.

“Thibaud really convinced me to concentrate on my craft and to really respect the process of imaging. It is difficult to take a close look at your practice and to improve even the smallest technical details to take every decision seriously, ”explains Dufossé. “It requires that you be much more aware and think about your creative decisions. I don't know that I was able to achieve the level of craftsmanship that Thibaud shows in his work, but I still have this idea. It has helped me make tremendous progress in my work and I try to remember it as often as possible. "

"Generally, I think the best advice I've ever been given is to just stay out there and trust yourself," she says. "This is the advice that every creative person should internalize."