In erotic, comic book-like illustrations, Marie Jacotey likes to draw boobs, and lots of them! The twenty-six-year-old from Paris, now living in London, has an MA from the Royal College of Art. She had her first solo exhibition in 2013 and is highly commended for her work in female erotic art.
Obsessed with the form of a female body, combined with human relationships and feelings, she represents her work in a humorous way, tagging it with seemingly unrelated words, sometimes misspelled, but never mind that, she’s French, she’s allowed to do that.
Taking her social relationships to a whole new level, she’s inspired by Facebook and Instagram, not her life, nope; portraying embarrassing situations with the whole “just do me and let’s move on” attitude, her characters speak the unspoken thoughts of unsatisfied women. We talked a bit about her work, why some things are the way they are and about the fact what comes first: the sex or the irony of it.
We think that the most ironic thing is the fact that she is actually super reserved about sex, even if that is the main object of her drawings.
Let's start at the very beginning. When did you realise that what you are doing is it, well if that is it?
I guess it is impossible for me to define the precise moment when I knew or decided without doubt that what I was doing was “it”. It is probably a platitude to say that I’m never quite sure of what I’m trying to achieve when I’m starting a new piece of work, but that actually is what keeps me going, the sense that I am searching for “it”. This stated, I can say that I have always been drawing and since I’m little it seemed to be my favourite way of expressing various things.
Your work also includes a lot of comments, mostly ironic. Why are you adding words, nothing wrong with them, don’t get me wrong, but do you maybe think your drawings are not specific enough and that’s why you need additional words?
My drawings do not necessarily need words. Some of them actually do not have any words, but in those that do contain a comment I don’t see the words as an additional but as an integrant part of the image, much like in comics where the text is as important as images for the understanding of the whole. So, of course, my writings are meant to fit the drawings – and hopefully they do.
There is a lot of irony in you sexually inspired drawings. Is that a defence mechanism, do you find sex ironic?
I use irony a lot in my work to help me – and the potential viewer – distance from, as you well described, “embarrassing but so truthful” events. I don't think sex is the only subject matter that I treat this way, I view it as a part of all those moments in life that can be extremely awkward. Also, I believe that this shared intimacy specifically is something that everyone is curious about, because it is rarely discussed very openly and therefore hardly laughed at. I guess I find it interesting to try and voice maybe some of the ideas that might cross one’s mind in such a private moment. This said, I believe there are several occasions in human relationships when things are not fully expressed and potentially awkward, and that is what I find exciting about them. I like observing the approximation of any communication between beings.
And while looking at some of your drawings, I got this after-sex disappointment feeling…
Oh, I don’t see that so straightforward and only connected to sex. I think my drawings in general question relationships. Lately I’ve been focusing mainly on couples, whether seen from a masculine point of view or a feminine one, and in that context some frustrating aspects may also be expressed. But I don’t think I’m trying to depict sexual disappointment specifically, even if it sometimes is a part of the story.
Where does the inspiration come from? Is it personal?
The inspiration comes from everywhere, from novels, from movies but also from people who surround me. The reasons for my obsession over a subject might be personal, but the subject matter itself is never autobiographical. I work mostly with an external point of view of the situations I depict.
“Fucking mask of fucking shame. Call me danger. Dirty lies here I come.” Some words from your illustrations. What, why!?
I can’t really explain the meanings of those specific quotes. I guess they make sense with the drawings they accompany. One thing I can say though is that those texts all seem to contain and express violence that would otherwise be less apparent – or even completely inexistent – in the images themselves. I’m interested in that contrast.
And when you’re working what happens first? Do you start with a drawing and words just tag along, or do you think of a phrase and you make that phrase real through a drawing?
Both, it really depends on the drawing. I take a lot of notes in general, drawn or written, and for me it is all part of the same process. Sometimes I would start a drawing with a sentence in my mind that would lead me through the making of the image, and other times words come to my mind when I’m making the image rather than beforehand.
You mostly draw girls, how come? Do you find them more attractive than men, more appealing to look at and to draw, what is it?
It is true that I’m absolutely obsessed with the representation of women. I do not find them more attractive than men at all. I just feel the reason of this specific interest is simply rooted in the fact that I’m a woman myself.
Is your work a tool to only express yourself or do you want to achieve certain things with it and inform people of certain topics?
I hope to express myself in a way that other people can relate to what I’m telling. This said, I guess my work is more about delivering some observations rather than a tool to state a precise message on a particular topic.
What was the most useful critique you got about your work?
I’m not sure I can define the most useful critique, any critique can be useful as long as it is constructive.
How do you know that a piece is finished and that you achieved what you wanted?
I think I always have a plan for the image I’m making, which starts forming when I’m drawing, and at some point I feel I’m about to finish it – when I feel I have reached a good enough balance in the composition. Whether the result is successful or not becomes the question then.
You have an MA from the Royal College of Art in printmaking. What was your work like prior to RCA and how is it now? Has it changed much?
My work surely did evolve from the time when I arrived to the RCA to the time I was studying in France, but not dramatically. I’m still drawing and still focusing on the same subjects. I guess studying at an MA level helped me to further develop the sense of my practice and helped me to shape my voice as an artist. I also think that moving from Paris to London opened my vision of contemporary art, which might have also refreshed my own work. Finally, of course, continuing to produce pieces of work made this latter change formal, but I believe that this is only a natural evolution and I don’t feel that the time I spent outside education was any different from my college years.