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Camille Béguin Interview

Contemporary Ukiyo-e Silkscreen Poster Exhibition started on April 8 at Chignitta. A gallery talk with Camille Beguin, an illustrator active in Switzerland. Junzo Terada, her teacher from her days at Kyoto University of Art and Design (now Kyoto University of Art), and I listened to the talk. Her first solo exhibition in Japan, “Contemporary Ukiyoe UKI OH YEAH” is now available online.

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Camille Béguin

Camille Béguin is an illustrator and printmaker who lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland. She studied japanese culture and language from 2007 to 2010, then illustration and graphic design from 2011 to 2015. Both degrees allowed her to spend time as an exchange student in Japan, the first time in Tokyo university of foreign language (autumn 2010), then in Kyoto University of Arts and Design (spring 2014). Camille was introduced to silkscreen printing during her studies in Kyoto and quickly fell in love with the technique. She likes to create elaborate illustration designs and hand-print them. She spends as much time as she can on her art while working part-time teaching arts-and-crafts in primary schools.
website : instagram : CAMI__YU


Gallery Talks

Camille, thank you very much for joining us today.

My partner is myself, Taniguchi, and Mr. Junzo Terada, a Japanese master who is indispensable to Camille-san. Mr. Terada, please give my regards to you. First of all, Camille-san, please introduce yourself. Camille-san, you are going to do your best in Japanese!

Camille: Hello. My name is Camille Begin. I grew up in Geneva. Both of my parents were music teachers. My grandfather was an architect and a potter. So you could say that creativity is a family affair (laughs).

Terada: What do you mean? Laughs.

So you are saying that my talent is my family environment. (laughs).

Camille: When I was 19 years old, I decided to study, and I wanted to go to the University of the Arts, but I couldn’t go. I failed the exam. I had always been interested in Japanese culture, so I decided to study Japanese. I first became interested in Japanese culture because of my cousin, and my cousin was a manga geek. So I started reading manga (laughs).

What kind of manga did your cousin read?

Camille: Like Dragon Ball. Laughs. So I studied Japanese on my own for three years, and then I was able to study at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, but I had to go back after one year because of the Tohoku earthquake during my first year. So after that, I really wanted to do design, so I studied again and was able to study at Kyoto University of Art and Design from the University of the Arts in Geneva.

Terada: That was nine years ago.

So Camille was a student of Mr. Terada’s at that time?

Terada: I was teaching a silk-screening class, and we used to hang out together where we smoked. Laughs.

What was your impression of Camille at that time?

Terada: She was very hardworking. She had a lot of ideas and was a good drawer. I remember him drawing pictures of women’s panties. I remember that very well.

Camille: Yes.

Haha. So that’s how you fell in love with Camille, Mr. Terada. LOL.

Terada: We exchanged works, too.

Camille’s work from her student days

What was your class like at Terada-sensei?

Camille: In Geneva, illustration teachers teach only picture books. In Japan, teachers have many different classes, and I thought it was very interesting that Terada-sensei had silk screen and various other classes in addition to picture books. So the students had many different styles, and it was interesting to compare them. It was fun to see everyone’s work.

Terada: About nine years ago, there were so many different styles of students. Now they are all in the animation field.

You studied illustration in Geneva, right?

Camille: Yes, it was a college of design and fine arts. Geneva is a smaller city than Osaka, with only 200,000 people. It is the second largest city in Switzerland, so there were many universities, so I could study in my own city.

Camille as a student. Silkscreen production in progress.

Camille, what made you decide to start your own style of Ukiyo-e?

Camille: I studied Japanese language and design, so I wanted to combine the two. I also took a class on the history of Japanese art.

Why did you choose Ukiyo-e in particular?

Camille: I liked prints. I liked the colors. When I saw the gradation in Hokusai’s prints, I knew I wanted to do something like this. For the faces of the people, I got tired of the cartoon style I had always drawn as a child, so I decided to go for the Japanese painting style. I started this Ukiyo-e style in 2017. There was a group exhibition with a Japanese theme at a gallery in Geneva, and I decided to participate in it, so I created this series of 4 prinrtings.

Were all of your first Japan-themed exhibitions with European artists?

Camille: Yes, there were about 10 artists. I started silkscreening in 2014 and immediately fell in love with it and decided to continue. I also went to the workshop of a teacher in Geneva and made various attempts.

Japanese ukiyo-e prints are woodblock prints, why did you decide to use silkscreen to represent them?

Camille: Woodblock prints are very time consuming. With silkscreen, I can make a print right from the design. Woodblock printmaking requires a team and costs a lot of money. But silkscreening is hard on the back. You have to print everything yourself.

Can you tell us about the process of creating a silkscreen work?

Camille: First, I look for an idea. If I decide that snowboarding is the way to go, I go to Pinterest and look for lots of pictures of snowboarders. Once I decide on a pose, I start sketching. I draw all the way with a pen tab and finish with Photoshop.

Then you color-code them for silkscreen printing, right?

Camille: Yes, that’s right.

At what stage do you decide on the colors?

Camille: I like gold and other colors, so I decide on the colors first, and sometimes I do a gradation, and sometimes I don’t. I also use transparent ink to make it look transparent. I also sometimes use transparent ink to achieve a translucent effect. Also, if I put blue on gold, it becomes green, so I can add more colors.

Camille’s Ukiyo-e art print process

I liked the theme of this work, of course, but I also thought the kimono pattern of the model was very distinctive. The pizza-themed obi is a tomato, for example, which is very stylish. How do you decide on the textile ideas for these kimonos?

Camille: I search Pinterest (laughs) for “kimono + design” themes, and then I add my favorite motifs.

All of the themes are modern motifs, but how do you decide on the theme itself?

Camille: I start with the four seasons as my theme and develop ideas for my work according to the seasons. I wanted to draw from my own culture and Japanese culture. Cheese fondue and skiing are examples.

Cheese fondue is certainly a Swiss idea. Is the pattern of this lampshade the same?

Camille: Yes, that’s right. I looked for “traditional Swiss patterns” on Pinterest (laughs).

First time in Japan, Camille Beguin’s “Contemporary Ukiyo-e” works are also available online.

Terada: I recommend silkscreening to everyone because it allows me to look at my work objectively. I recommend it to everyone because it allows you to look at your own work objectively. Some people are really into it and others are not.

Camille’s work is very detailed, and it’s really worth seeing. The band’s drum set, the umbrella, and every detail is pleasing to the eye. I think the size of this piece is also good.

Camille: This is the maximum size I can print at my place.

How many exhibitions have you had in Switzerland?

Camille: Three solo exhibitions. This is my first time in Japan. I am very happy to exhibit in Japan. I am happy because I really wanted to introduce this series in Japan.

What are your plans for the future?

Camille: I am very happy to be here in Japan for the first time.

I would like to do about 100 different works in this “UKI YO YEAH” series, and when I have 100 different works, I would like to make a book of them. I am also starting a project of picture books for children. Also, I have a postcard project with my best friend who is a florist. I also want to make postcards with my best friend who is a florist. I have so many things I want to do that I may not have enough time until I die. LOL.

Gallery talk with many visitors


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