Florence Blanchard is a French painter, muralist and screenprinter based in the UK. Blanchard began writing graffiti in the early 1990’s under the name Ema, and spent ten years based in New York where she graduated with a PhD from New York University in 2008. Her work is directly inspired by her past experience working as a scientist and writing graffiti and depicts abstracts molecular landscapes questioning our idea of visual perception. Read on to find out more about Florence.
What was the driving force behind your choice to become an artist?
I’ve always felt an urge to be creative. As a child I spent my time drawing and I became a graffiti writer as a teenager. Nowadays painting and printmaking are my main outlets and I can’t imagine my life without them.
Do you keep tabs on art trends or are you all about doing your own thing?
It’s very tempting to follow what other people do but I try not to. I feel it would distract me from evolving in my own way. I think the aim of artists is to develop their own styles and that’s where the fun is.
What/who are your biggest influences?
My past as a scientist and graffiti writer have provided me with an unlimited supply of inspiration and are at the basis of my aesthetic. Everything around me inspires me and I love using bold colours because I feel it offsets the dark British skies.
What is your workspace set up like?
Painting and printmaking are the main 2 techniques I have been using. I paint canvases and produce screen print editions from my own studio in Sheffield. In parallel I create both indoor and outdoor murals in different locations in the UK and other countries.
What’s your favourite piece in your portfolio and why?
Often my latest work is my favourite and then I create a new one and I’m excited about that one. In terms of printmaking I am really pleased with my latest editions series NO EVIL.
The NO EVIL print series came out of a self-initiated, mini lockdown residency in my home studio.
Screen printing is such a time consuming process, with the set up taking up the majority of the time. You can easily spend several hours preparing your screens, paper and print bed only to find that once you start printing, something has gone wrong and you have to start all over again. Because of this, it is often tempting to stick with what you know and stop looking for new directions with your work.
I wanted to take advantage of the fact the world has slowed down for a moment and use this newly acquired time to explore different screen printing techniques and push my studio practice to the next level. For the past three weeks I have allowed myself to make mistakes and to take as much time as I needed to troubleshoot and find solutions. The experience has been enjoyable and rewarding. MIZARU, KIKAZARU and IWAZARU are the three print editions to come out of this self isolation / exploration and I am thrilled with the end result.
The titles refer to the three wise monkeys; a Japanese pictorial maxim embodying the proverbial principle “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. There are various meanings ascribed to the monkeys and the proverb, including associations with being of good mind, speech and action. In Buddhist tradition, the tenets of the proverb are about not dwelling on evil thoughts but represent a great motto, which can be enhanced by creative practice. Immersing myself in this challenging project has provided a great outlet to escape the pandemic madness for the time being and I’m delighted to now share these with you.
Describe your art style in three words.
Abstract, colourful, bold.