ISSUE #17 – Illustration and its manufacturing secrets

Video footage of the Filigrane symposium

Organised by the HEAD – Genève’s Illustration major in February 2023, the Filigrane talk series was conceived as a meeting and exchange space between students and professionals. As the title implies, the primary intention was to go behind the scenes of illustration work to reveal the features hidden beneath the images. Over the course of two days, devoted respectively to ‘the studio’ and ‘production under constraint’, seven illustrators representative of current trends spoke about their means and methods of creation, their daily lives, and their relationship to the creative space.

Starting with the notebook as a ‘jogging space’ or ‘compost reserve’ in case of writer’s block, this feature explores the meanderings of the brain and those of the studio, tidy or in feigned disorder, dissecting the book’s precision mechanics in relation to that of narration. Then the deck is reshuffled and it appears that serendipity – like the morning ritual of going from private to artist space – can be the centrepiece driving the machine. Sometimes the landscape of childhood leads to the desire to inhabit the landscape of the book. Finally, it’s possible that a four-handed work on one same image can blur the artist’s stamp to the point of erasure.

The different testimonies thus lift the veil on personal, if not intimate, processes that are both pluralist and resolutely unique. Most often, those processes remain confined to the secret of the studio or the brain. What shines through between the lines of these images and words is the necessary elaboration of a deep and complex reflection on the creative act in the vast field of illustration.

This symposium provides an all too rare opportunity for thoughts honed by experience and practice to be transformed, for once, into a discourse serving as a collective narrative.

Through words, images and in the manner of illustrated books – Filigrane tells a story: that of creation in contemporary illustration.

Clément Paurd

Image: Marion Fayolle, Les amours suspendues, Magnani, 2018. Backcover (detail)

Guillaume Dégé

Delphine Perret


Anne Brugni

Marion Fayolle

Anne-Margot Ramstein

Mirjana Farkas