Illustrator Ariadne: ‘my job as a graphic designer has had a great influence on my style’

Clean lines, halftone textures, and limited colour palettes are a winning combination for French artist Ariadne’s illustration work. In this interview, she talks to us about developing her style and how Affinity Designer for iPad gives her the freedom to illustrate wherever she chooses.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into illustration.

I’ve always loved to draw since I was young. In middle school, I already wanted to become an illustrator, but at that time, everybody talked me out of it, and I ended up becoming a graphic designer (which I like a lot). But the idea of becoming an illustrator still wouldn’t let me go, so I decided a few years ago to get back to illustrating more seriously, telling myself that after all, it might be possible. I started to get in touch with other illustrators, and together we supported and motivated ourselves. It isn’t the easiest path, but the important thing when you embark on a journey is not to isolate yourself.

Have you always had a passion for drawing?

Totally! As far as I remember, I’ve always loved it. Although I did put it aside for a few years, it never completely left me. Like every child, I loved to draw. But what really pushed me to get better was my older sister. She used to draw a lot. She made wonderful paintings and charcoal drawings. I was so jealous that I wanted to surpass her at all cost, to become better than her! In the end, I wasn’t looking at what she was doing anymore; all I wanted to do was continue because I liked it so too much.

What inspires your work?

It’s hard to say what inspires me, I’d like to say that anything can inspire me! For example, after seeing a superb chocolate, milk and strawberry dessert in a bakery, it made me want to draw a character in the same colours, with the same sweetness. Generally speaking, it is the aesthetics of an object—its arrangement, its colours, that will inspire me. That is why I am very interested in fashion, in decoration, in video games…and of course in graphic design! What I do in my job as a graphic designer inspires me a lot. When I see creations with a sober design, or ones that are colourful, textured, or offbeat with a dynamic composition…all that inspires me. I have folders filled with a lot of pictures that inspire me with their aesthetics.

“Generally speaking, it is the aesthetics of an object—its arrangement, its colours, that will inspire me.”

You have a very distinctive style. How did you develop it?

My job as a graphic designer has had a great influence on my style, I think. Over time my style has evolved as I gain confidence in my line work and my use of colour. I’d say that my style developed naturally the moment I stopped trying to get one. I then simply started to draw what I like the most. Traditional drawing and graphic design.

“I’d say that my style developed naturally the moment I stopped trying to get one. I then simply started to draw what I like the most.”

How do you come up with new ideas?

I have too many ideas; I get lost in them. They are sometimes good, sometimes mediocre. I keep a sketchbook where I write down everything: ideas for compositions, themes and colours. It’s easy not to run out of ideas. The hardest part is to sort them out and, above all, not to drown in them. To take them one by one to see if they are viable. I am naturally curious. I am interested in many things, which keeps me inspired easily. Also, I just have to see some colour palettes to make me want to use them, and give me ideas.

Talk us through your creative process; how do you turn your ideas into finished illustrations?

The goal is to make the process fun for me. I am like a child when I draw! I generally do numerous little sketches, I begin to choose colours that speak to me, and then I turn them into a coherent palette, so I don’t scatter myself. After having achieved the sketches, I start with the vector. Most of the time, I draw each element separately and then I have fun with the composition. Each element can therefore be moved, stored, duplicated etc. That is also what I like a lot about vector graphics. Each element can be easily be modified, such as the shape and colour. It’s a bit like a construction set. And if I want to pick just a few elements and make a different composition, I can! For me, vector graphics is like a big toy box.

“Most of the time, I draw each element separately and then I have fun with the composition. Each element can therefore be moved, stored, duplicated etc. That is also what I like a lot about vector graphics. Each element can be easily be modified, such as the shape and colour. It’s a bit like a construction set.”

How did you come across Affinity Designer?

Basically in my job, I work with vector graphics in Adobe Illustrator. I got an iPad pro to be able to draw everywhere, and I was looking for a way to create with vectors on the go. That’s when I came across the Affinity Designer app. It was the most advanced vector design app on the iPad. I tested it, and I was not disappointed! It is smooth, fast, ergonomic, and has all the functions I need to create illustrations wherever I am. I am now much faster at working on the iPad with Affinity than on the computer.

“It is smooth, fast, ergonomic, and has all the functions I need to create illustrations wherever I am. I am now much faster at working on the iPad with Affinity than on the computer.”

Ariadne talking about Affinity Designer for iPad
Pantone of 2021
Do you have any favourite features/tools?

What I find great are the clipping masks which are very easy to use. I work almost exclusively with these. You just move a shape into another one, and you’re done! It’s very intuitive. Also, I like the gradient to transparency. I use it constantly, and I can’t do without it! The only thing missing is an editing tool for perspective in vectors!

What does a typical working day look like for you?

Since I have a job as a graphic designer, my day looks like any other worker’s day. Until I get home and the “second” day begins. That consists of sketching, vectorizing designs, managing social media, and also prospecting etc.

I start by looking at where I am in my projects, if I have a design to finish, or whether I am starting a new project. In the latter case, I research reference images, create moodboards, colour palettes, and start sketching. I also take care of my social networks, emails and prospecting!

What do you think is the biggest challenge you’ve face as an artist?

The biggest challenge has been to accept the flaws, and to finally manage to finish an artwork. In the beginning, I did a lot of sketches, but I never got to the “clean” part. I wasn’t sure of myself. I put too much pressure on myself. The most difficult thing, I think, is to let go and to finally start having fun, without being too hard on yourself, while keeping a critical mind. It’s a balance that is not easy to have.

Are there any dream projects you would like to work on in the future?

I would really like to be able to finish and publish my graphic novel. That would be a real achievement for me. But my biggest dream would be to work for a video game, creating the characters.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

What I love most is the process. I appreciate the time when I’m working more than the final result! The moments when I search for the colours, when I have fun composing with my curves and my shapes. What I like the most is the soberness and the simplicity of it. I have the feeling that I really want to get to the point. I’m not the type to add 1001 details and frills.

I like that my personality shines through my illustrations. I’m not the sort of person to dwell on things; I like to get straight to the point.


To see more illustrations by Ariadne, check out her Instagram and Twitter accounts.