Profile: Lotie

French illustrator Lotie’s floral style, full of leafy branches and birds, is popular with brands seeking a connection with nature. As Garrick Webster discovers, the Sorbonne graduate is inspired by ancient engravings, poetry and dreams

I like the idea of nature reasserting itself,’ says French illustrator Lotie, whose work is full of ruffled flowers and twisting tendrils. ’I like it when it mixes and mingles with worlds in which we don’t expect to see it.’

Her view of nature might have been a little different last spring. Due to fly to Bucharest to assist on set for Blink Productions’ latest commercial for Miller Genuine Draft, Lotie had to revise her travel plans thanks to Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which had mixed and mingled its abrasive dust with the air over Europe, grounding flights for days on end. She got there eventually, and the ad began showing in the UK in October. In it, artists use high pressure hoses to create ’reverse graffiti’, covering a building with Lotie’s leafy branches, flowers and birds. ’A team did the graffiti at night from a projection of my drawings on the walls of the building, but I created the universe that would be put up there,’ says Lotie.

Miller’s advertising agency Leo Burnett and director Lynn Fox were trying to make a statement about the beer’s natural flavour, so Lotie’s nature-filled style seemed the perfect choice. Buses, four-by-three displays, and point-of-sale promotions will also be employing her imagery.
A graduate of the Sorbonne, Lotie went straight into freelance illustration in 2004. Still based in Paris, she is inspired by ancient engravings, poetry, and dreams and says that she is seeking to create an atmosphere of anxiety and hope. Lotie declines to reveal her real name, and also claims that she isn’t phased by people labeling her work decorative. ’I don’t think that decorative is derogatory. I don’t know if my style is merely decorative, but if it is, it doesn’t bother me in the least,’ she says.

And why should it? From roses to hummingbirds or snakeskin patterns, her India ink drawings evoke the beauty and nature that certain brands crave.

Lotie has created similar magic for Absolut, Chanel and Ferrero’s Duplo chocolate bar. Her floral illustrations for an architectural article in the French magazine Bloom are perfectly juxtaposed with photography of brick buildings, generating a similar feel to that of the Miller commercial.
Lotie is growing accustomed to making large-scale work. One of the most ambitious projects in her six-year career was undertaken at the beginning of 2010 for the South Korean store Lotte, in Seoul. An animation in reds and oranges was projected on to the side of the building, marking 30 years in business. While plants reached up and clouds rolled across the sky, acrobats performed in front of Lotie’s graphics. ’The tricky part was to work at the right scale, and to make sure the projection of my motion drawings fitted on the building,’ she says. ’In addition, the challenge was to create the choreography for the acrobats who interacted with the animation. At first, they had to practice without the projection. It was a leap in the dark.’

Part of Lotie’s time is also devoted to personal and exhibition work. Last year, Le Cube in Issy-les-Molineaux, just outside Paris, staged a joint show between Lotie and London-based artist Quayola, which brought plenty of attention and new opportunities. She’s also exhibited in Germany, New York and Tokyo. Illustrators often enjoy working to their own brief, but for her this wasn’t just about creative release. She feels it adds an extra frisson to her professional profile, and she plans to do an exhibition or two each year going forwards.

’It’s good for me to be active and visible in the art world. Clients tend to like it. Being an artist as well as an illustrator makes me and my work more attractive to them,’ she says.

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