My choice of direction was guided by the great people who were there and who inspired me (...) And that's where I got the click of books. The desire to become an author also came from my readings. This profession is built up as you go along, you do a bit of commissions, press work, drawing classes. Everything is progressive. And then at some point you turn around, and you realize that this is it, you are an author for real."

Clouée: Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
Clara Hervé: I studied Applied Art at the Auguste Renoir high school in Paris. Then, in the wake of that, a DMA in illustration for two years, in the same school. Then, the Decorative Arts in illustration in Strasbourg for 4 years. 

How did you become an author? What was the trigger to direct you towards the illustration of children's books?
It was never very clear. When you were little, you dreamed of being an archaeologist, a veterinarian... a little less of being a comic book author. Little by little, I oriented myself towards the things I wanted to do, as close as possible. I never said to myself in high school "I want to be a comic book artist". On the other hand, my choice of orientation in DMA illustration was guided by the superb people who were there and who inspired me. At Arts Déco, I followed the path of the students who were in higher classes. And that's where I got the idea of books. The desire to become an author also came from my readings. This profession is built up as you go along, you do a bit of commissions, press work, drawing classes. Everything is progressive. And then at one point you turn around and realize that this is it, you are a real author.

Where do your artistic influences come from? Who gave you this passion for drawing and the desire to make it your profession?  
Originally, all children draw naturally. Afterwards, it's the way other people look at your drawings that makes you continue or not. My parents always encouraged me, my brother also drew a lot of battle scenes. We used to tell stories through our drawings. In primary school, you understand that not all children continue to draw and so I naturally had the role of the person who drew in the class. That was my particularity. At the time, you don't realize it. 
It is through my readings that I drew my inspiration: Quentin Blake, Jiri Salamoun, Franquin whose line and movement fascinate me, Sempé, Catherine Meurisse.
And then I also draw inspiration from colleagues, classmates, Chloé Faller from my studio. They are also my friends who make me want to draw.

Can you tell us more about the technique you use and your style?
I do my line with pen and ink, there is a bit of a nervous side to this medium. Even though it's quite a painful process because you have to put ink back in regularly. The good thing about India ink is that it is water and light resistant. 
I do a lot of notebooks... I still have the same model. But the type of paper has just changed, and I can't use them like I used to. It's really sad! So I'm looking for my new favorite notebook because I don't feel good with this new paper... 
My use of the notebook is quite instinctive, I do it without thinking. It's at school that you really start using it. It's a good base of data, of characters, of context. When I have prepared my drawings for Biscoto, I go back to my notebooks to find inspiration. 
As for my style, it's always easier to talk about it from an outside point of view. It's hard to talk about it... I have a bit of a vibrant, moving line.       

What is the stage in the creation that you like the most and the one that is the most complicated to realize ?
For comics, the most complex part is writing a script and cutting the storyboard. In drawing, I would say the pencils and the framing. I like to draw while listening to music, but there I need silence. I need to concentrate. So, the most pleasant part is the one that follows. I like to make the line. Just drawing...
My favorite part is really doing the notebook, it's just for me, there's no goal. It's nice to have that freedom!   

Can you tell us a few words about your next artistic projects ? 
I would like to write a long story. I have already worked on short formats, 8 pages, but I want to do a comic book. I already have my idea ... there will be animals, adventure and the sea ... 
I like to draw animals because it is universal.   

"Big cold" evokes me the snowy mountain, the nature, the animals, the chalets, the mist... I loved to draw the small smokes. It's the first time I've drawn snow! It was stressful because I was wondering "How do you do it?"
It was really nice because you only need one line. So thank you Clouée because I learned how to draw snow thanks to you..."

Can you tell us about the emotions you feel when your drawing is finished and at what point do you feel that it no longer needs any touching up?
I have changed a lot between my student days and now. Before, I used to redo the same drawing 3 or 4 times because there were elements that disturbed me. Then, I would tell myself that I was the only one to see these disturbing elements in the box. 
Now, it's unnatural but I draw forgetting my perfectionist thoughts. I wait until the next day to look at my work. This distance allows me more objectivity in my work.  

What are your work routines? 
It's scary to work at night, I remember the times at school when I was late. It was a stressful situation. I need time to work well...not to be rushed even though I can work quickly. I like to work in the morning. As soon as I open my eyes, I think about the work that needs to be done on my comic boards and I project myself onto my work for the day. This time is precious in my creative process because there are many steps before I arrive at the studio (breakfast, shower, my bike ride, coffee, hellos). By the time I sit down at my desk, I've already thought about my work.      

We are proud that you are collaborating on our 3rd theme "Big Cold". What did you like about this project?  What does this theme evoke in you?

I enjoyed bringing images to life in another context and in another place where I am used to seeing them. Illustration is often found in the press, it is less institutional than painting. It's very hard to find value in it, even if that is changing today. Illustration is functional, whether in comics or to convey an idea. I think it's great to make them live and to look at them as works of art, framed, which gives them a precious side. 
There is also an openness, there is no box: Clouée must be able to hang in a child's room as well as in a company. It brings us all together whether it affects a child or an adult at work, we have the same sensitivity. 
As soon as the theme was announced, it was very cold, like -10°C in Strasbourg. It's funny because I knew right away what I was going to draw. It was very clear even if I wondered if it was too caricatural. School also taught me that my first idea is often the right one, my instinct is to go for the most obvious, strongest idea. That's the way I work. 

"Big cold" evokes me the snowy mountain, nature, animals, chalets, mist... I loved to draw the little smokes. It was the first time I drew snow! It was stressful because I was wondering "How do you do it?"
It was really nice because you only need one line. So thank you Clouée because I learned how to draw snow thanks to you...         

Tell us about the creative process of your illustration... How did you think of it and imagine it? What is its story?
I like to talk about everyday life. Breakfast is my favorite time of day. All my stories start at the beginning of the day, rarely at night. I wanted to make 3 distinct moments of the day, that will help me to make different colored atmospheres but linked by the story and the setting. In this story, there is no twist. We are spectators of a child cat who goes to school. I almost wanted to show the school... I had to extract some moments of his day but I could have chosen others. For the sunset, I favored the landscape side that we contemplate. Then, for Stars, I wanted to put a fire, meeting and friendship.       
What is your favourite artist ?
Anna Haifisch, a German artist, illustrator and screen printer.

A movie, a series, a comic book, a book that keeps you in bed?
Les glaneurs et la glaneuse by Agnès Varda
P'tit Quinquin by Bruno Dumont,
all the Gaston Lagaffe by Franquin,
Simone de Beauvoir : Mémoire d'une jeune fille rangée

Thanks Clara for this great time !