box with a frown

everybody, just pretend to be normal

My final blog for Pixel Union. Enjoy.

pixelunion-staff:

Blogs We Like | Laura Manfre

During university, I enrolled in a painting and drawing course. During one of our many critique sessions, a classmate described my sketches as “childish.” The professor interrupted, “I think what you meant to say was child-like.” Childish was definite criticism, whereas child-like seemed like a solid compliment. This difference stuck with me. 

Now, whenever I come across art with that child-like quality, I understand the complexities involved in creating an image that evokes youthful feelings, like Laura Manfre’s entire portfolio of watercolor illustrations.

I’m drawn by the earnest, yet detailed approach to her subjects. A comforting repetition of the little things in life proven to make us momentarily happy. Slices of cake swirled with frosting. Little toasts smeared with jam or topped with a fried egg. Cookies and donuts. Heart-shaped lollipops. My Little Pony dolls. Avocados. Cheese burgers, pancakes, hot dogs and ramen. Baby fawns and pineapple drinks.

There’s a vintage gloss to each illustration, a yesteryear cleanliness. I like to imagine the objects plucked from obscurity on an antique store shelf or a backroad diner menu, dusted and cleaned until they’re ready for exhibition. 

Maintaining the spotless presentation, Manfre keeps her online bios brief.

“A self-taught illustrator and kitsch lover from France.”

Kitsch completely describes Manfre’s vision, but I’d never assign her that descriptor. Like the fine line between childish and child-like, kitsch teeters between corny and enduring. I’m glad Manfre is confident in her kitsch. 

Her work has made appearances in the Sunday Times Magazine, ADH Paper Co. and the Stay Home ClubImmerse yourself in Manfre’s world on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, where hashtags #donut #toast and #candyland are common vocabulary.