An image of a white persons hand holding a brush as it paints a workbook in gouache. This is a still from this: https://www.mossery.co/products/sibylline-meynet-gouache-art-kit

Framed by Flowers: An Interview with Illustrator Sibylline Meynet

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  • I first saw Sibylline Meynet’s work on Tumblr. Her art was irresistibly eye-catching, delicately drawn, and luminous in color that depicted women in an ethereal style. Today Meynet’s body of work is laid out like a catalogue filled with a new kind of elegant pin-up art made by women for women, showcasing ladies with whimsy and class. It also feels delightfully reminiscent of Art Nouveau, like Alphonse Mucha’s illustrations. Iterations of Meynet’s female muse in various states of repose often find themselves among repeating patterns, such as stars and flowers, weaponry and armor, and various animal companions.

    “Dark Knight” by Sibylline Meynet.

    A freelance illustrator from France, Meynet has also worked with BOOM! Studios on Steven Universe comics and published her own art books like Osmose and Interlude. Her illustrations are featured on Kroma phone cases and Mossery sketchbooks, and they’ve been on display in group shows at Gallery Nucleus.

    Before the ongoing pandemic, I saw her art at Nucleus, viewing it in an exhibition space for the first time. I briefly met Meynet, and later spoke with her over email about her art, collaborating with family, making process videos and more.

    “Raccoons on a mission” by Sibylline Meynet.

    Alyssa Wejebe: What drew you to illustration?

    Sibylline Meynet: I have never stopped drawing since I was a child. I grew up in a very artistic environment; my parents would draw and paint too; we would listen to music all day and watch old movies. So it was kind of natural to me to become a professional artist when I grew up.

    A.W.: How do you describe your body of work?

    S.M.: I am not sure. I just draw or paint what I feel like drawing. I try not to think too much about my style or identity as an artist — sometimes I don’t even feel like an artist (because to me, this title is reserved to an elite, I guess). But I like to try new techniques, new color palettes once in a while to experiment. (I have realized not too long ago that it’s important to switch sometimes, to discover new things about yourself, too).

    I like to draw women, most of the time surrounded by stars, moons and sun. Sometimes by flowers or clouds. I guess these themes represent a part of who I am, always daydreaming and wishing for a quieter place to think and create stories.

    Sibylline Meynet’s “Gorgon” exhibited at Nucleus Gallery. It’s also available for purchase as a print.

    A.W.: Stars and plants are common elements in your work. But if you had to choose, which one would you pick — stars or plants?

    S.M.: This one is hard! I’d go with plants because there are so many different types of plants that I haven’t drawn yet. Drawing flowers is so therapeutic!

    A.W.: Do you have a favorite color scheme? What are your favorite tools to work with?

    S.M.: Not really, it depends on my mood. But if I had to pick one, I’d say coral and teal. [And] at the moment I’m all about acryla gouache! I started gouache [in 2019] (it was something I have always wanted to try but was too bad at it), and managed to create pieces I really like. But when I tried acryla gouache, I thought this is the best material I have ever tried, and I can’t get tired of it. I use Holbein acryla gouache; they are kind of expensive but worth it.

    Sibylline Meynet says that her rendition of Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus is based on John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Elizabeth W. Chanler.

    A.W.: Are there certain emotions you hope people will feel when they see your art?

    S.M.: Not really. I try to draw for myself first, not thinking about what people will think of it. But I’m glad they get to express what they feel when I post on social media; I’m always surprised when people describe what they see or try to read a message in my art. I think it’s the best interaction between an artist and their audience.

    A.W.: Do you leave hints of stories or symbolism in your art? Or is it more about aesthetic appeal?

    S.M.: It depends, but most of the time I try to tell a story, based on personal feelings or Greek mythology for example. It doesn’t matter if people don’t get it, because it’s kind of hidden. I tell a story to myself and if the audience wants to interpret the painting and read another story in it, it’s fine too. And I like it when the colors and shapes go well together. So I’d say both!

    “A witch going on an adventure with her tiger” by Sibylline Meynet.

    A.W.: What influences your art?

    S.M.: I would say classical art; I love Gustav Klimt and his gorgeous portraits, the way he uses shapes and patterns. I love art from the ‘50s and ‘60s as well (their works with gouache [are] always on point). And of course I’m influenced by my fellow artists and friends, who post their works on social media.

    A.W.: What made you decide to make process videos for YouTube?

    S.M.: I get a lot of requests on social media, so I try to make process videos sometimes. People are either curious of the process (tools…) or just like to watch it and relax. Watching someone paint is so relaxing! I do love to watch these videos too on YouTube. My favorite is Leigh Ellexson.

    A.W.: You mentioned in previous interviews that you and your sister work on projects together, like your art book. What is it like collaborating with family?

    S.M.: It’s the best! She always helps me when I cannot make a decision by myself. That’s why she helped me a lot with the art book. It was definitely a collaboration with my sister — I did the designs and knew exactly what I wanted, and she made it into a book. I am so bad at InDesign and that kind of software. I think if you get along well with your family, it can only be a pleasure to work with them. I am very lucky to have a supporting family!

    “Star map” by Sibylline Meynet.

    A.W.: You’ve exhibited your work in group shows at Nucleus. One was “Spellbinders 2,” which included you, Meyoco, Heikala, and Ruka Ito. How do you think your art style fits with theirs?

    S.M.: I think what Gallery Nucleus saw in our works [are] the same themes in general — magical elements, mermaids, witches… kind of like a fantasy feel. I can see why they picked us for “Spellbinders.” And I’m so honored to be part of this adventure with these incredible artists from all around the world!

    A.W.: Could you talk about how you ended up exhibiting at Nucleus? Did they approach you, or did you reach out to them?

    S.M.: They approached me in 2018 with a specific theme for the first art show. I am not sure how they found me, but I’m guessing Instagram. I was thrilled because it was a dream to have a show there! I’m very grateful.

    A.W.: What’s it like doing covers for comics like Steven Universe? Have you done other work in comics?

    S.M.: It’s an honor to do comic covers, and always so much fun! Usually I draw three thumbnails and they pick the one they prefer. I have worked with Valiant Entertainment too, to do covers for Faith, Secret Weapons and Harbinger. And I did a 10-page comic of Garfield too (it was my first job in the American comics industry).

    Prints from the “Spellbinders 2” show at Gallery Nucleus, from left to right: Sibylline Meynet, Heikala, Ruka Ito, and Meyoco.

    A.W.: In a previous interview, you mentioned working on your own comic book. Could you talk more about that?

    S.M.: I had to put that on hold for a while because so much happened these past few months [just before the “Spellbinders 2” show]. But I am still working on it whenever I can, with my sister.

    A.W.: How do you approach combining art with commerce? You directly sell your art on a digital storefront, but you also have partnerships with places like Kroma and Mossery. Your YouTube channel has a demo that features an official collaboration with Winsor & Newton. Did you reach out to these companies, or did they approach you?

    S.M.: They approached me on my social media. I receive a lot of partnership offers but if I am not interested or if I don’t see the point, then I don’t do it. Winsor & Newton have always been one of my favorite art supply brands (I have been using their Promarkers for years) so when they asked me to work with them I was thrilled! Same for Kroma — they proposed a new product I was interested in for my own store but couldn’t do it myself. Their phone cases are lovely and I love our collaboration.

    Mossery now has the Sibylline Meynet Gouache Art Kit available for pre-order.

    Selling my art online is the only way I can make a living out of what I draw and post on social media. I always try to be careful and make good products for a fair price too. I can’t say “no” to a good collaboration because I want to make something I am proud of. And like I said, I will never say “yes” to something I feel is not right for my art (like promoting watches or products that have nothing to do with art in general).

    A.W.: Do you have any advice for people who want to be illustrators?

    S.M.: Don’t think of what people want to see. Just do what you want to do. And practice a lot. Always carry a sketchbook with you and draw from real life whenever you can! Open your eyes and study what’s surrounding you. Build a nice portfolio with only illustrations you really like. And the most important of all, be yourself! Don’t copy, and be patient.

    “Summer vibes” by Sibylline Meynet.

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