This week we interviewed illustrator, designer, advertiser (and everything else in-between) Lydie Greco. Originally from France, Lydie is inspired by her love of people, and her award-winning work has taken her from Paris to New York and (luckily for us) London.
LTP: You are a designer, an illustrator, a web designer, an animator and also, technically speaking, an advertiser. That’s a lot of strings to your bow, so how did you come to do so many things, and what did you start off as?
LG: How did I come to do so many different things? Because I’m an indecisive person! Maybe I should just call myself an ‘artist’, because I do anything that has to do with visuals – mostly 2D – so if you need a 2D image created, whether that’s illustration or animated or for a website or for a painting, I’m interested.
Initially, I wanted to be a fashion designer, but then I realsied I enjoyed drawing clothes and dresses more than I enjoyed sewing them! That’s when I went more towards the illustration route. But then I wasn’t accepted into any official illustration school in France because they’re quite selective, but I was accepted for a graphic design course. You know when you’re passing you’re A-levels and your teachers ask you ‘what do you want to do for a job?’ I said I liked to draw and they said ‘oh, you should be a graphic designer then!’ Although you don’t really draw as a graphic designer, but that’s the misconception.
LTP: So that’s truly where you started?
LG: I did graphic design, but I always did illustration on the side. And I found out while I was doing it that I was more interested in the advertising side of design than the pure ‘shape and form’. So there were people in my class who would be like ‘oh we just want to do big posters with a shape, and it’s art and it’s beautiful!’ But I’m like ‘no, if it doesn’t actually have a message, I’m not interested’; I’m not interested in an image that’s beautiful just for being beautiful, I’m more interested in making sense of things.
LTP: One of the main things that we drew from your blog and your pieces online was that you were interested in people. There seemed to be a greater interest in reflecting on people, what people are like down to very small details, and relationships between people. So this is something you’re interested in across all your works?
LG: Definitely. I think it’s not so much that I want to say something about people; it’s more that I like to observe people. I’m a bit of a creep in that sense! I just love people. Put me on a bench and I can spend hours watching people and drawing them. So it’s not so much about interacting with them and figuring out what their deep desires are or whatever, it’s more that I’m fascinated by the variety of human profiles, that’s why I enjoy living in London.
LTP: That particularly comes through very much in your (award-winning) tote bag design and your work for the London Transport Museum – a huge group of people outside Leadenhall Market – a very lively place within in slightly desolate location. So London is inspiring you towards all this? Even more so than other places?
LG: Well when I say London I mean Hackney, really. I’m going to sound like Sadiq Khan here because he always says we don’t just ‘tolerate our differences, we celebrate them’ which sounds cheesey but it’s very true, and I find that this is the best place in the world to live from that point of view! I’ve never seen so many different people from so many different backgrounds living so peacefully together. I know it’s not perfect, but it’s as good as it gets. It’s impressive.
LTP: Is there anything specifically that’s inspiring you at the moment?
LG: Well I think I’d like to focus more on what unites the whole thing (my work), and I think that probably is ‘people’ – I know that’s very broad! I think one of the things (in reference to your previous question) that comes to mind is my ‘Magic Depictor’ - where I hide inside a photobooth behind a mirror and draw people – and I think this explains how/why I love people. What’s really good is that the people forget they’re being watched and they are very natural – it’s amazing for me and gives me a lot of satisfaction. They don’t have any inhibition, they have no idea who I am or where I’m from, it’s like I’m not myself anymore, I’m just (the depictor), and also because it’s just a game either they play along or they don’t…so maybe that’s the most interesting thing – how humans play together.
LTP: So no room for a bit of introspection, then?
LG: I was into introspection a lot with my blog, where I’d draw myself all the time, and I did that from 2008 – 2011, and I think I got a bit tired of speaking about myself all the time!
LTP: Lydie, thanks for talking to us!
LG: You’re welcome!