Due to some time restrictions yesterday, a very long 14 hours shift at work, I was unable to get the Artist Corner interview up and running on Friday per se, but let’s pretend it’s Friday once more and take a dip in the hauntingly beautiful world of art with Camille otherwise known as Kmye Chan. This French flower cultivates her own garden of phantasmagoric fragile images, which if you have been around the Internet long enough must have already seen. So here is the person behind the art and her rendition of the answers to my obnoxious questions.
Harry Markov: Hello and thank you for accepting my invitation. It is a real pleasure having you here in my virtual chair. Let’s start with the simple and basic questions. What was your first encounter with art and how did you decide you would become an artist?
Kmye Chan: Thank you very much for inviting me! It’s a pleasure to be virtually here. ;)
Well, to be honest, I didn’t really “choose” to become an artist… it kind of fell on me. I’ve been drawing for almost all my life, I started as a kid, except that unlike most people, I never really stopped. At first I was drawing just for fun, but in my late teens, I realized that drawing was something very, very important for me, and that I wanted to go a little bit further in that direction. From there I started working harder to improve, and before I knew it, I guess you could say I was an artist.
HM: Another tradition with the “Artist Corner” is to say something about yourself. Who is kmye-chan and why did you chose this interesting sounding username for your DA profile?
KC: That’s a long story! Kmye is a contraction of my real first name, Camille. It’s the nickname I’ve been using online ever since I had an internet connection. Back then, as a teenager, I was part of a group of friends with a common passion for mangas, drawing and roleplays, and one of those friends extended my nickname to “Kmye-chan”. In Japanese, the suffix “-chan” is a diminutive for kids and girls. Around that time, I also opened my first accounts on art communities like DeviantART, and I used the nickname “Kmye-chan” as my account name… and the name has stuck since then. Now I turned it into “Kmye Chan” and it’s the name I’m known by in the art community.
HM: Who are the artists that inspired and influenced you the most?
KC: There are many, so I’m not going to enumerate everyone! As a kid, I read a lot of comic books (mainly French and Japanese) which influenced me greatly: a few names that come to my mind are Bernard Yslaire, François Bourgeon, Ai Yazawa, Kaori Yuki… As far as painters go, I love the works of Dali, Magritte, Schiele, Klimt, Mucha, Waterhouse, Rossetti… just to name a few! I’m also very influenced by pop-surrealist artists such as Mark Ryden and James Jean, or illustrators as Edward Gorey and Nicoletta Ceccoli.
HM: Your work is dreamy, airy and fantastic bordering on dark and surrealistic. How do you feed such an active imagination and where does your inspiration come from?
KC: My inspiration comes from everything and anything… it’s usually something unusual or odd that attracts my attention, and sparks an idea. But this little “something” can be anything really. It just happens out of the blue, and most of the time I’m not even able to trace back the train of thought that took me to that idea. That’s what you get when you daydream a lot, I guess! But once I’ve got the initial idea, that’s where the real work starts : I try to refine the original idea, to develop it and make it grow into something interesting, which can be quite different from the original idea I got.
HM: What attracts you to the out of the ordinary and fantasy? Different people find something entirely unique for themselves and I always like hearing a new answer on the subject.
KC: I have always had a soft spot for the misfit, the odd, the unusual. I’m someone who gets bored easily, and I like to be surprised, intrigued, interested. So I love everything that stimulates and challenges my imagination, that shows me something I have never seen before, that contains more than it looks at first glance. If it makes me dream, if it tells me a story, if it shows emotions that I can relate to, then I’m attracted to it… and that’s just what the out of the ordinary and fantasy does!
HM: All of your works center around a young fragile girl in a different scenarios and situations. What brings you back to this image and haven’t you been tempted to try painting a boy?
KC: Well, I’m putting a lot of myself in my artworks, emotionally. When I draw, I completely relate to the character I’m drawing. So it doesn’t feel right and straightforward for me to draw a boy…! But I’m planning to try and include male characters in my artworks… I just need to take a large breath and dive!
HM: Most of your pieces are inspired by the 19th century and their style of dressing. What fascinates you about this era to bring your fans back to it?
KC: I’m mainly fascinated by the aesthetics of 19th century fashion (and historical costumes in general – I’m in a big Renaissance period right now). I love complicated dresses, lace, frills, embroideries… I’m such a girl! Also, most of my artwork portrays girls that are somewhat misfits, strange creatures… and 19th century fashion, with its tight corsets, carries the idea of contention, constraint, pressure on women, which works well with the ideas and emotions I’m trying to convey.
HM: I consider your work otherworldly, like witnessing a bittersweet dream. As a host of a more fantasy oriented blog, I would want to know, what your stand with fantasy is. Do you plan to ever dabble into more classical fantasy as genre? The medieval kind.
KC: To be honest, medieval fantasy was never really my thing. I do enjoy a good fantasy book or movie, and I love the work of many amazing fantasy artists… but it’s not something I picture myself drawing. I’m a romantic and dreamer at heart, and the codes of classical fantasy hold too much adventure and romanesque to really fit with the bizarre and the melancholy that come with my ideas!
HM: I always marveled your technique. What is your working process? Do you paint by traditional means or do you also mix in with the digital world?
KC: For the past three years or so, I have been working exclusively with traditional media. I’ve tried digital artwork, but I’m just not very good with digital media, I’m afraid!
HM: Another completely customary question would be about your work process. How much does it usually take to complete a piece from start to finish and what’s your way of doing things?
KC: My working process is rather simple: I sketch with a pencil on watercolour paper, I ink with various Indian inks, and then I colour with a mix of markers, watercolours, pencils and acrylics. I work a lot on textures and shadows by texturing and “dirtying” the artwork as a final touch. As for the time it takes me, it varies enormously depending on the size and complexity of the artwork. Painting an artwork can take to from 2 to 25 hours, from the moment I start sketching until completion. If you start counting from the moment I have the idea and keep it in a corner of my head to mature, it can go up to months!
HM: Following closely your blog I see that you have been a frequent victim of art theft, which is a very cruel form of piracy. How do you deal with these cases and also are there any means to prevent this from happening at large?
KC: Unfortunately, there is no way that I know of to prevent art theft from happening. Internet is a gold mine for designers and so-called “artists” lacking imagination to find artworks they can take, claim as theirs or copy, and make money off. The best you can do is to make sure you protect your artwork the best way you can: no high-resolution files online, watermarks, and if possible, register your artwork. It won’t stop people taking your work, but at least it gives you legal leverage when it happens.
When it does happen, it’s a hurtful experience… especially because in most cases, there’s not much you can do. But it’s important to fight back and try to protect your rights, because the more people get away with it, the more they’ll keep doing it.
HM: The logic from the last question leads to the fact that you are quite popular professionally in the art scene. What are your professional heights and does art pay the bills for you?
KC: Unfortunately, no! I’m not all that popular in the art scene, to be honest, I’m still a newbie and it’s a tough world! Right now, I have a full-time job and I work as an illustrator on the side. I couldn’t earn my living with my artwork right now, unless maybe if I accepted every commissioned work offer I receive, including the ones that don’t really float the boat of my imagination. I prefer to keep a day job, and be able to choose only the projects that really interest me. Maybe someday I’ll be able to switch to more art, less day job… I’m thinking about it, but no decisions made so far. :)
HM: From your own personal site I have seen that you have had plenty of exhibitions back in 2008 and some scheduled for this year as well. What’s the feeling to be a part of an exhibition and how is your art being received?
KC: Being part of an exhibition is amazing. It’s a great honor and a beautiful achievement. I’m very grateful to the people who gave me my chance and trusted me and my work so much (they know who they are!). My work was very well-received in convention art shows in the USA, I’m hoping to do more this year if I can. I also made my first gallery shows this year, from which I got good feedback and critics about my work, although sales weren’t amazing – a normal thing for a newcomer in galleries, I was told. Now it’s wait and see!
HM: To close off this session I will ask the frequent last question. What are we to expect from such a talented artist?
KC: No disappointment, I hope! I’ll do my best! ;)