Between her homeland of Canada and the warmth that is California, Tallulah Fontaine creates on a reflective level, steadying nature, reality and the precarious. In delicate liquid-spread watercolors and dark, bold linage, life’s tangles collapse, clearing room for the appreciation of existence.
Fontaine dissects life into simplified, minimalistic fragments with enough white space to allow meditation of each work’s isolated details. They’re stories of the human spectrum, separated by subject and setting, neither displacing one another. It’s a unique and alluring function of Fontaine’s craft—the attached detachments of our trivial findings, both good and bad. Fragile instances become bound stories, and we watch through the windows Fontaine has left open for us.
With one limb in the zine scene and another illustrating for music, Fontaine’s ability to unite place and point ornaments everything amadeus thrives on. Be it her own collaborative publication, Home Zine, or a one-off tattooed creation, Fontaine is visibly present in all of her work—probably our favorite thing about this talented chick.
First, give us the Tallulah Fontaine spiel. Who are you/what do you do/why do you do it/what do you do when you’re not creating/any pets?/etc./etc.
I’m an illustrator and zine maker from Edmonton but I spent the last few years living in Montreal. Right now I’m hiding from winter in sunny California, eating my weight in tacos.
When I’m not working I’m usually with my Canadian friends that have also wound up in LA. They all live in the same house not too far away from mine.
What’s that shift from Canada to LA like? Have you noticed the influences of your location in your work?
It feels very very different. Montreal is so dense and everyone lives on top of each other. You leave the house for some babka or coffee and always run into a friend. LA feels a lot more isolating. I don’t know many people here and I don’t drive, so I tend to stick to my neighborhood during the week. It’s good for getting work done but it takes a lot more time to travel anywhere.
All the landscape and greenery is also unlike anything I’m used to. Like, the other day, a group of parrots were above my house—it was mind-blowing! I’ve only ever seen them in cages before. It’s been really fun to draw all my new surroundings.
Love Home Zine. How did the idea surface? What about a printed, documented book intrigues you?
I was moving around a lot and thinking about what were the things that I owned that were really important to me. What made me feel at home? I got the idea to create some kind of collective where artists could express those feelings as well. I wanted to see what that meant for them. I talked to Carla (the Paper Beast) about creating this zine series and she was really into the idea. She’s so lovely to work with and it’s so nice to collaborate with her even though we live a world apart. It’s also given me the chance to work with so many artists I admire and I’m really proud of the work we’ve collected.
I love that this idea turned into physical zines. It’s just this lovely, tangible thing. I always prefer to look at art printed then on a screen. I think when you can hold it in your hand, you take the time to appreciate it. I have a pretty decent collection of my own and I’ll look at them over and over again.
Tell us about your storyboard style. Which comes first, the story or the doodles?
I don’t tend to doodle much. I wish I was the kind of artist that always keeps a sketchbook, but I can never seem to. I usually come up with an idea, do an outline and then make work on the final drawing.
What all do you work with? Watercolor, pens, printing tools…great spread. How does process differ per medium (zine, series, etc.)?
I mostly work with watercolor, ink, gouche and pencils. It usually depends on what I have around the house at the time. When I travel, I’ll do more in ink or pencil crayons cause its easier. Lately I’ve been drawing more and more on my laptop, which is new for me.
Tell us a little bit about the strong portrayals of women in your work. What do the photographs we see on your Tumblr and accompanying some of your work mean to you and your creative process?
I love drawing women. I don’t draw them exclusively or anything, but I often use different women to express my feelings. I don’t often feel like I’m just one version of myself and so I’ll draw girls to narrate a story or an idea of I have. Maybe it’s someone I saw on the bus…
I am definitely inspired by the things I see or the music I hear. I don’t think a lot about what I share on Tumblr. I wouldn’t say it’s a collection of things that lead to what I make next. It’s been months since I’ve made any new work for myself. The ideas that I have right now come more from experiences I’ve had than anything I’ve seen on the internet.
What are your three most treasured possessions?
My grandmother’s diaries: She’s the person I’ve felt the most connected to in my life. My love for her is so strong. I unfortunately didn’t get to know her as an adult, she has almost no memory left. It’s all in her diaries. She’s a good writer too, funny and thoughtful.
Blanket from Mexico: My boyfriend brought it home for me maybe five years ago. It was one of the first things he ever gave me. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of my first apartment and what it was like when I first got to know him.
My pinafore: It’s made from old sacks of oats. I bought it at an antique mall in Lawrence, Kansas. It has a cowboy on it and I love it.