Though we didn’t realize it at first, we’ve been fans of artist and illustrator Tallulah Fontaine for quite some time. We were lucky enough to have been keyed into the music of Purity Ring since their start and Fontaine’s hand-done illustrations and narrative imagery has been integral to the band’s public image and most every release since their first single. From there, Fontaine’s gone on to work with a whole host of musical artists (many of whom we’re big fans of), writers, and collaborators from many creative realms, all the while bringing her distinctive style to each project.
We took a little time to speak with Tallulah about what inspires her art, projects to come, and what she likes about the city of Los Angeles.
raven + crow studio: So, first off, thanks for doing this. We’re fans of your work. I guess the first thing we’d like to know is, how’d you get into illustration and fine art? Did you go to art school or have you just kind of always been doing this?
Tallulah Fontaine: I didn’t go to art school or any kind of college. I waitressed after high school and picked up art again when I was in my early 20s.
Being self-trained myself, I applaud that wholeheartedly. Our first exposure to your work was through Purity Ring, a longtime favorite band of ours. How’d you initially get hooked up with those two?
I’ve known them for ages—we grew up together in Edmonton, Alberta. They asked me to do the single art for their first track they put up on Myspace and I’ve worked with them ever since.
Myspace—that was a while back then. And you know Braids too, yeah? Really love their last album.
Me too! It’s one of my favourites from last year!
I met them in 2009 when they played in the basement of a house in Edmonton we used to call Castle Awesome.
Castle Awesome? Awesome. Yeah, I think the most recent work we saw by you was what you did for LA artist Soayla (above)—are you drawn to work in music in particular or has that more just an effect of your friends being in that business?
A little of both—I’ve always been surrounded by musicians even though I’m not one myself. Music is a really important part of my life and I love to get to be a part of it in some way.
Makes sense. We loved the collab you did with Ali Munn last year and resulting rings too—how did that come about?
Thank you. I’ve admired her work for a long time and approached her to make me a custom ring for a friend. We ended up collaborating on some designs together instead! I’m very happy with them.
No, they’re great. I love the idea of marrying jewelry design and illustration. You’ve done a good bit of work in the literary world too—book covers, magazine and book illustrations. Have books always been an important part of your life? Are you a big reader?
I used to be, especially when I worked in a used bookstore. These days, I don’t always make the time for it like I should.
You and me both. Favorite recent read?
I will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together by Mira Gonzalez.
Love that title. Much of your work is so narrative—it seems like there’s a larger story behind so many of your individual pieces. I now you’ve done some zine work, but have you ever considered larger, longer form things like graphic novels or the like?
I’m working on my first short comic to be released this summer. It’s 24 pages, longer than anything I’ve made so far. I’m really enjoying working on it and would love to make more comics after this one.
That is awesome and exactly the kind of answer I was hoping for. Can you tell us more about your process in general? Like, what inspires the pieces you do? For instance, do you try to take content from a song or album or book and illustrate it in a sense, or are you inspired by other things? Or both?
When I work on a book cover or album art I do consider the content and meanings when working on my representation of them. In those kinds of projects, It’s much more of a collaboration with the other artists. My personal work is usually inspired by a significant moment or memory. Something I’m trying to hold onto and remember.
Illustrated memories—I like it. It’s always weird to speak to what or who influences your work as an artist, but who are some other visual artists whose work you admire?
The arts scene in and around Toronto does seem really very vibrant. Am I right in thinking that you recently moved from Canada to Los Angeles…but more recently moved back north?
Yes that’s right. I moved from Montreal to LA for a year and now I’ve been in Toronto since January.
What are your thoughts on Los Angeles? It’s such a diverse city, but it’s also got a lot of common great and not-so-great things about it.
I really loved Los Angeles, although it did take me some time to get used to! I have a wonderful group of friends there and I’m crazy about the landscape and weather. I would definitely move back there again but I would learn how to drive next time! Never want to bus around that city again.
Oh, god no. Any projects we can look forward to besides the comic?
Awesome. Thanks so much for talking with us.
You can see more of Talulah’s work and buy some of her pins, jewelry, and prints on her web site. Below, her cover for Purity Ring’s 2015 album, Another Eternity (another one of our favorites last year) and her collab with Ali Munn. Artist photo by Angela Lewis.