I am Lucile Prache from Paris, France, which are stocked with prints featuring instructions for making the perfect cup of tea and collections of gem-like tomatoes, juicy green pears and bundles of fragrant herbs.
My illustrations celebrate fresh ingredients, favorite recipes and global cooking. Customers frequently commission custom paintings depicting their most cherished family recipes.
My favorite tool is watercolor and I love mixing handwritten text with painting in my recipe illustrations.
I work for my online shops and freelance clients in a cozy 13-foot-by-13-foot studio in my flat, which is located on the ground floor of a classic Parisian building, built in 1880 that boasts ornate moldings, herringbone parquet floors and marble fireplaces.
French people are always grumbling and Parisians are the champions of grumbling so of course, I will grumble and say that I wish I could live elsewhere, in Montmartre or on the left bank, because I like to hear the sounds of the noisy city.
After graduating from art school in 1981, I founded with two classmates, Klaxon Graphic Art Studio to provide design services to advertising agencies. After my children (now 19 and 20 years old) were born, I left Klaxon to work from home and spend more time with my family.
I spent the next decade building a freelance career focusing on fashion and culinary illustration. In 2010, I started an Etsy shop to list reproductions of the drawings for sale. The shop began as an experiment, but the prints generated more interest than I had expected!
I work with three agents (New York – Paris – Tokyo) to bolster my client work, which includes illustrations for styling agencies, magazines and cookbooks. As a freelance illustrator, it’s exciting to always have new creative briefs from clients, opportunities and challenges. Next up? A new cookbook of regional French recipes for a publisher who found my work on Pinterest.
My process for illustrating a cookbook is usually the same: the publisher gives me the recipes and I have freedom to interpret them as I wish, usually in four or five weeks. My American agent develops licensing deals in the United States, while my French agent lands domestic projects; I just started working with my Japanese agent and hope we will work together on exciting projects soon.
My daily work routine varies, depending on the fluctuating demands of client work and online orders. First thing in the morning, I package orders that came in overnight from US customers, who make up 95 percent of my online business. I ship them in the afternoon from the nearby post office.
Pinned to my wall are three shipping labels from the United States Postal Service that I got during my last visit to the States. I think of them as good luck charms when shipping packages overseas. Crossing my fingers maybe their magic is working — I haven’t had any lost packages in a very long time.
Since I am most productive in the morning, I usually start my creative work around 9 a.m. I prefer to paint with natural daylight, and this sense of light joyfully shines through my art I hope. People often describe my style as light and loose, which is my intention. Despite my love of food, I prefer to take a quick lunch break and return to work, in contrast to the French tradition of long, lingering lunches spent at a café.
When designing illustrated recipes, I sometimes uses a Wacom Cintiq tablet with an interactive screen and a digital pen to add a digital element to my traditional watercolor techniques. I stop working at 7 p.m. to cook dinner and take the rest of the night off.
To strengthen my mind and body, I attend ballet classes twice a week. I have practiced ballet since I was a child and love that it involves both hard physical work and the ability to spend time dancing with friends. I have been taking Chinese calligraphy classes since the early 90s to expand upon my art school education. In these classes, I figured out how important it is to work with my whole body and to let my breath help my gesture. I often paint standing up to facilitate this.
I try to be mindful of a lesson from my calligraphy studies: an empty space on the sheet of paper is as important as a filled one.
I enjoy the balance of working on assignments from corporate clients and designing creations for my own shops. One of the biggest perks of being an online shop owner is having an international customer base and making friends abroad. My enthusiastic customers, many of whom share family recipes with me, fuel my creativity and expand my knowledge of cooking customs around the world.Recommended1 recommendationPublished in