Julie Robine: Child’s Play

Illustration Month is our chance to highlight ADC Members who consider themselves illustrators, whether professionals, students or just really keen amateurs. The common thread is that they have a passion for drawing that just couldn’t be contained. Want to get featured? Resolve to become an ADC Member in 2016 while you sip green juices. Julie Robine is a French-American illustrator and designer originally from Paris, France. A recent RISD graduate, she is now based in New York, working as a junior designer at Simon & Schuster’s Little Simon/Simon Spotlight. Her freelance work includes character design for animation and pattern design for children’s products. She is interested in storytelling through eccentric characters, with a focus on color and movement. 


New York, NY



When did you ‘discover’ your own talent and then later, turn it into a viable working gig?
When I was around 4 years old, I drew a picture of Disney’s Mulan. My mother posted it on the fridge, sending my very competitive older sister into an angry frenzy. Her response was an honestly atrocious attempt to draw the cartoon heroine. This amused my parents but made me realize that there was beauty and strength in my favorite hobby. Then, as a preteen, I became obsessed with comic books, their creators and the opportunities for a career in that world. I read interviews and articles, took internships and jobs in art and design and learned as much as I could about the reality of it. I created stories and accompanying art through my teens. I starting my education at RISD with the conviction that I would be an illustrator.

How long have you been an illustrator?
I’ve been drawing since I can remember, but I didn’t consider myself an illustrator until my junior year of college. As passionate as I was, illustration was a hobby and then a terrifying challenge. It took many breakthroughs and epiphanies to understand what technique, style and facet of illustration I loved the most and felt the most connected to. In my case, it became children’s products and books , watercolor and 3D illustration.

Self taught? School?
I am very lucky to have attended RISD for college and Parsons and the Beaux-Arts for pre-college. I am also self-taught through books and tutorials.

Was a career in the arts encouraged from a young age?
No, thought by no fault of my family. I was raised in France until I was 9 years old where my artistic tendencies were viewed as silly, distracting and unproductive. Once I arrived in the US and entered the American school system, I was encourage and challenged by my peers and mentors to pursue art.

Take us through your creative process. 
Sketches and thumbnails are just as important ad the final product. They are the foundation of any piece, to compose the image well and thoughtfully. Both for 2D and 3D art, I always work from a sketch. For watercolors, I start by lightly outlining the piece with watercolor pencil and then I place the first blocks of color. If the piece has a color background, I’ll start with a full coat of color to unify the image. Then it’s layers and layers of watercolor, wet at first until I do the details in dry watercolor pencil. For 3D, I use sculpting clay around a very rough shape made out of aluminum foil. From there I build the piece until it’s ready to be ‘cooked’, painted and dressed.

In illustrating, what are the tools you can’t live without?
A good lamp, great resources online and in print, and I would pay good money for a real drafting table to replace my tiny, flat desk!

What is one of the most exciting projects or a favorite one you’ve worked on or are working on?
My first children’s book is in progress…more to come soon, I hope!

How do you describe your aesthetic?
Unrestrained silliness.

What is the biggest challenge about being an illustrator? 
Taking your work seriously, rather than yourself. Rejection and bad critique will happen, and it’s important to take it in, learn from it, challenge yourself and move on.

What do you love most about it? 
It’s my creation. I can visually create my own imagination. I’ll never tire of that.

Any dream collaborations or brands you would like to work with?
Collaborating with the creative teams at LAIKA or Wendy and Brian Froud, for both 2D and 3D, would be a dream.

Where is your favorite place to go/thing to do to get inspired?
Praise be to the Internet and Pinterest.

Any contemporary artists on your radar? (illustrators or other)
I love Emily Hughes, John Klassen, LeUyen Pham, Claire Keane, Brendan Wenzel, Carter Goodrich and Nico Marlet.

For anyone considering illustration as a career or just something to try for curiosity, so you have any advice?
Learn as much as you can. Understanding the art world is the key to becoming a part of it. Send emails, make phone calls, talk to people who interest you. If you can take a job, an apprenticeship or an internship in an area you’re curious about, do it! I graduated at RISD with 9 internships, ranging from graphic design for a financial firm to puppetry. There is no such thing as over-learning.