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Marine Buffard spends her life in motion
12.10.21 Interview by Hannah Valentine

Marine Buffard spends her life in motion

The Parisian illustrator sees her animations as illustrated diary entries. Full of movement, texture and colour, her designs are an excitingly surreal treatment of the everyday.
12.10.21 Interview by Hannah Valentine

Marine Buffard’s animations are a record of the tiny everyday moments which add together to make up our days, years, and lifetimes. Looking at the designs on her curated Instagram account feels like peering into someone’s head to witness their private thoughts. Sometimes these thoughts are straightforward—a view from the window of a moving car, a closeup on a vase of flowers as they bloom and furl. Often however, there is an element of the fantastical in her designs, as an egg turns into the sun which transforms in turn into a cup of coffee, or a woman’s face morphs into the contours of a mountain.

Marine’s contrast of strong black lines and fluffily-undefined coloured shapes also feels like a reference to our thought processes—sometimes clear and obvious, other times vague and indistinct. Living in Paris with her partner and dog, Marine rediscovered her love of illustrating and animating through the lockdowns that Europe began to see from March 2020. Her animations bear witness to the different aspects of her days and the life she spends in motion.

We talk to Marine about her many jobs, about the hours of unseen work that go into animation and her ongoing desire to become a morning person.

Talk us through your artistic background
I studied graphic design at ESAA Duperré and ENSAAMA in my hometown of Paris. Even though my studies focused mainly on graphic design, I always had a personal drawing practice on the side which was encouraged by my professors and mentors. When I left Paris to study in Edinburgh and later to work in Barcelona, I started to illustrate bits of my daily life as B&W 80s inspired comics, but I never actually put them anywhere to be seen: they remained personal. I stopped illustration and graphic design radically around 2018, only restarting in 2020 when a friend of mine needed an illustrator and animator for a documentary she was producing. This is how I slowly got back to it during the first lockdown.

Designing is not a full job because I find that I need to have several occupations in very different industries to fulfil my life. I try to find balance between creative practices and more strategic or academic work which I find more stimulating intellectually. This is how I feed and sustain my inspiration. I find a great deal of inspiration in daily ordinary moments outside of my creative life which is why having other occupations is crucial to me. So right now, I am an illustrator and animator, but I am also a PhD student in Media Studies, as well as a Trend Forecaster, Brand Strategist and Project Manager in an agency. It might seem like a lot but I really like it and for now I can’t imagine doing only one of those things!

You say in your Instagram that you’re “dedicated to becoming a morning person” and that your life contains “no stillness”. Can you tell us a bit about this means and how it relates to your art practice?
I have never been a morning person but have always aspired to become one as I love the calm and focus provided by early mornings. I am aware that my goal is probably deeply related to the early productive morning global fantasy presented as being constitutive to a lot of successful people, but it is fine as long as we make it enjoyable I think! My routine in itself is pretty ordinary. I lead a very normal life: I walk my dog, I see my friends, I go to work, I watch Netflix or read a book, I travel occasionally, I like to go for a run or do some yoga, I enjoy exhibitions and cultural events once in a while. I miss restaurants and cafés a lot!

The "no stillness" part might be linked to what I described above: I have multiple jobs and occupations, love to be active and have had ADHD tendencies since my early childhood. I am always in motion and so is my life and my work. I am still pretty unsure on how it affects my illustrative practice; the only thing that I know is that it is a motor for creativity for sure. The “no stillness” is also a personal challenge of mine: I try not to post any still illustration on my Instagram account in the hope of becoming better at animating. My account is personal. My posts are illustrated diary entries, a space where I can experiment with animation and illustration while chit chatting about my daily life.

Talk us through how you make these animated diary entry illustrations
I usually find photos, movies, paintings, or even life moments that I like and which inspire a drawing, a movement, or a mood. I often do a concept sketch which is pretty basic and often a bit ugly just to save the idea somewhere on my iPad. Then I start working on the movement, the textures and the colours. I create digital frame-by-frame animations which I mainly do on Procreate. I love how comfortable it is to be able to draw and animate from everywhere with just an iPad. I only draw digitally; it’s much easier in my opinion, you can go back if you mess up, you can easily create effects and textures that are really difficult with traditional mediums, and it’s much more time effective.

We don’t really see the hours of work that go into even a seconds-long animation! There is of course the time you need to draw each frame, but what it less obvious is the time you take to research the movement, to fail, and to try it again and again until it’s fluid enough. Sometimes I can’t crack a particular movement and if I don’t find a cool transition or something to make the animation interesting I abandon it. I have a whole cemetery of abandoned animations on my iPad and of hours of work thrown away. Animation is crazily time consuming and can feel really repetitive!

Your animations are often somewhat surreal. Are you influenced by surrealist artists?
Yes! I love surreal art so much! It evokes dreams, collective unconscious nightmares, the human psyche, and I love all of this. I like to take common and very basic everyday life objects and implement them into dreamy or weird animations. I like trying to dilute or extend reality and its perception through my drawings. I am really inspired by surrealism and magical realism art whether it’s paintings, photography, movies, poems, novels. I grew up with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frida Kahlo, Haruki Murakami, Dali, Lee Miller as major obsessions so I am happy it shows.

Flowers and natural aspects are a big part of your work. What does nature and the freedom to get outside mean to you?
I am a Parisian born and bred, so I was not surrounded by a lot of nature growing up, and, like many Parisians I often felt the lack of it. Nature is a theme which has been turned into a major fantasy by people living in urban areas in my opinion. Especially during the successive lockdowns where we have witnessed a lot of Parisians leaving the capital for a life in the countryside which they often see as the “simple life”. Nature is a fantasy for me as well which is why it shows so much in my work. Even when I was a broke student living in a 15m2 flat in Paris I used to buy flowers every week to bring a bit of nature and beauty home.

How have you found the past year of pandemics and lockdowns?
It has definitely been a challenging year in many aspects, but even though it has been an intense and anxious time, a lot of great things have happened for me on a personal and professional level and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities which unfolded during the pandemic. A lot of things have changed in my life since March 2020, I grew a lot in many areas of my life and feel more confident professionally and personally than I have ever felt before. I only started to draw and publish my drawings in my digital diary again because of the pandemic.

You talk about how many different jobs you have. How do you see your professional life developing?
I am working on some music videos right now which will be out in the upcoming year. I enjoy this kind of thing a lot but they are very long and draining projects so I would also be happy to have smaller scaled animation work in between. I am also working on social media content for brands and I really like it: it’s often less creative but can also be a lot of fun. I don’t really know what I want to do next. I will see where life takes me as it hasn’t disappointed me yet!