We work with so many interesting designers, artists and illustrators here at Tate that we thought it was about time we gave you the chance to meet some of them. First up is writer and illustrator Badaude, aka Joanna Walsh, whose book London Walks! was published earlier this year by Tate Publishing.
When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
For years I resisted becoming an illustrator: at school art was considered a second-tier lesson for students who couldn’t cope with ‘academic’ subjects. I did an English degree and doodled during lectures but I don’t regret it because reading and writing are at the heart of what I do.
What piece of art most inspires you?
Right now nineteenth-century cartoonist Honoré Daumier’s Les Bas Bleus series about the pretentions of female intellectuals: satirical but also deeply sympathetic. His lithographs have such wonderful tiny touches like the smoke of a woman’s cigarette clearly made by wiping a drip of acid across the plate he was working on - such personal, hands-on ‘moments’ draw the viewer closer to the moment the picture was made.
Which artist or designer do you most admire?
‘Admire’ seems to demand a moral as well as a technical dimension. If that’s the case, I admire artists who can’t stop drawing, like Ronald Searle still sketching every day in a Burmese prison-camp while his comrades thought he was dying, or the amount and variety of work produced by Aubrey Beardsley before he died aged 25.
What is your favourite memory of Tate?
Drawing on the windows of the Tate Modern for two hours before the galleries opened: whistling in the empty Turbine Hall..
What is the best exhibition you have ever seen?
There was an exhibition in the early 1990s at the V&A. I can’t find any information about it now but it was about the 1890s: an enormous amount of art and media from the late Victorian period which must have fed my continuing fascination with the 19th century. At the time, the exhibition seemed endless. I can’t remember how long I spent in there. Recently I liked L’Ach et La BD (Architecture and Comics) at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris in 2010.
What is your favourite piece in your range?
I’m very happy with my book, London Walks! It’s wonderful to see my drawings come together into a book, which is a satisfying object with an attractive shape and weight.
What is your favourite item in the Tate Online Shop? The Ally Capellino satchel bag. I’m constantly working between London, Paris and Oxford, where I’m based. I love the idea that you could put everything you need for drawing into it and go. Do you have an audience in mind when you are designing? I think what readers want from a writer or artist is what only they can do and I don’t find trying to second-guess an audience helpful - though I’m always delighted to hear and incorporate opinions from people who are interested in my work.
If you could have been part of any art movement, which would you choose?
I would have liked to have worked for A Suivre (the French comic) in the 1980s: it was groundbreaking, obscene, funny and ambitious. I wouldn’t have minded working with Daumier a century earlier for Le Charivari or with Robida for La Caricature. I’m happy to be working now - I want to be part of extending the range of what graphic fiction and non-fiction does in the UK.
How would you describe your signature design style in one sentence?
Hand-drawn narrative - I write with images.
What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t want to claim any moral high ground but I have to say I’m not really bothered about stuff. I like wearing nice clothes (I do a weekly fashion piece for The Times) but I wouldn’t mind if they were replaced with - equally nice - other clothes. Even sketchbooks are just part of a process: it was doing the drawings that mattered. If I did own anything irreplaceable like, for example, an original artwork I’d always be happier for it to be publically-owned so more people could see it. Erm, how about National Treasures? The British Library really matters to me and, of course, the Tate.
Where do you create your designs? Mostly in a studio in Oxford.
Where are you most inspired?
Walking through cities.
What do you do when you’re not creating beautiful books for Tate?
I write and illustrate graphic fiction and non-fiction.
What was the first thing you ever designed/made?
When I was nine I put together a series of magazines with friends. I was the editor and also seem to have written and drawn or decided lots of what went inside. (I’m not sure I would have liked to have been working for me at the time.)
What processes do you go through to achieve your designs?
Most of my work starts with observation which is filtered through a lot of reading and left for a while before I can make anything out of it.
Who has had an important influence on you?
Anyone working with narrative in pictures, particularly in black and white: Aubrey Beardsley, comics artists Jacques Tardi and Jaime Hernandez.
How do you love to spend a Sunday?
I don’t like Sundays: they take place somewhere between something that’s just happened and something that’s about to happen and are sometimes spent trying to find ways to have tenuous fun. If I’ve enjoyed a Sunday it’s usually because I’ve forgotten what day it is.
What was the last book your read and why?
The OuLiPo compendium: full of fantastic games for working with narrative.
Visit Badaude’s blog for your chance to win a limited edition London Walks! print. If you have any questions for Joanna please leave a comment below.