If you love oldschool film noir, I've got an artist you should meet. Annette Fernando's page left an impression on me when I first saw it, and continues to have a similar impact every time I flip through our coloring book. Her style is dark, dramatic, romantic—all the best elements of old Hollywood glamour. Read my interview with Annette to learn some cool stuff about the artist, such as how she taught herself to draw by copying comic books and recreating film stills!
DA: How are you, Annette? I'm interested in getting to know a little more about you.
AF: Hi, I'm doing great thanks! A bit about me, I was born in London where I currently reside; my dad is Sri Lankan and my mum half French & Italian. I love movies, especially black and white films from the 50s and 60s. In my spare time I enjoy thrifting at car boot sales and second-hand shops; I have a large collection of panda collectables, DVDs, pulp novels, comics, postcards, "found" vintage photos and collection of letters by strangers.
DA: Pretty neat! Have you been up to anything cool?
AF: I recently won the student award in the biggest drawing competition in the UK called the Jerwood Drawing Prize, the exhibition tours around the UK and as of February 2015 is currently in Leeds. I am planning an exhibition in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo later this year so I'm creating new work for that show. I'm also starting a zine called 'Drawn to Ink' with my boyfriend, the pointillist illustrator known as Orwellx. Drawn to Ink will be about our artistic experiences, fellow artists, film reviews and will also include a comic I am making called 'patcanda' which follows the journeys of a half panda, half cat.
DA: Wow, congratulations on your award. I have to say patcanda sounds like something I'd be really into as well. So what is a common place where your doodling inspiration usually strikes you?
AF: Doodling for me happens at any time. I think everyone who knows me, knows I can't stop doodling over everything and anything; from paper napkins to my shoes, hence getting the nickname Bic after Bic ballpoint pens haha!
I think my best doodling happened in school, and when I'm on the phone. When I left school I was worried that I wouldn't get to doodle as much as I used to; then I started university and the lecture hall became my new doodling place. Back in school I doodled on every text book, in every lesson. When my work was returned after marking, I used to get angry messages from teachers telling me to "not disrespect my book", etcetera.
One day I cut out all the angry notes and made a doodle collage out of them in my sketch book. One of my teachers found this so funny that she photocopied it and had it stuck up in her office where it remained for years.
DA: I love the darkness and drama in your art. What attracts you to that style of imagery?
AF: I love to draw film stills that I carefully select. I take screen shots of moments I relate to in film - those moments when you think 'that's my life!,' and my drawings are often about relationships. I love drawing in monochrome and, visually, I am drawn to black and white films and photograph. In turn they influence my work, giving it a film noire feel.
I think my line work is also definitely influenced by comics. I taught myself drawing by copying other artists I liked. Comics were a big part of that. When I was little I inherited a box of comics, it was an incredible collection which included some early issues of Detective Comics, Diabolik, Black Orchid and the 1989 DC Cat Woman series to name a few. Instead of actually reading them, I remember being more drawn to the imagery, copying them cover to cover. I also particularly love the visual style of the comic Blacksad, and have always loved Romance comics and the covers of pulp novels, which is probably why I’m drawn to dramatic, romantic imagery. All of this artistic exposure in my childhood clearly formed a lot of my interests today and when I really start to piece everything together, I realise how my own artistic style emerged from a combination of these things.
DA: Is there a story behind the girl in your coloring book page?
AF: Yes, the girl is actually the musician Lana Del Ray. I had the idea to draw her in a comic book style after hearing her lyrics, "he used to call me poison, like I was poison ivy," which made me think of Poison Ivy from Batman. For a long time I wanted to create a drawing which incorporates lyrics within it and it was the line, 'they judge me like a picture book by the colours, like they forgot to read' that got me inspired to make this piece—I felt it was perfect for a colouring book.
DA: Have you colored her in yet?
AF: I sure did!
DA: It blends in so well with your style that I forget which parts are the coloring book page and which parts you added in! I love that.