When Grimoire Magazine received a message from the ether with the subject line, “A space witch wants to collaborate with you,” we knew that we had come into contact with some new and exciting magic, and we weren’t wrong. Madel Floyd, a French illustrator living in London, describes herself this way: “I have gray hair cause I've been struck by moonlight at birth. I remember my dreams so vividly that I sometimes mistake them with reality, and I draw stuff about space, wandering, darkness and inner demons.” We are delighted to have her as our featured artist for Grimoire Issue VI. She was kind enough to catch up with us in this interview to discuss the funny side of darkness and the comfort of the vastness of the universe.
To begin, could you speak to your influences — what artists, visual or otherwise, have made the most impact on your work, and how?
My childhood was mostly spent listening to Pink Floyd and reading Stephen King books, so I guess that sums it up pretty well really! I think one of the defining moments in my work is when I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time. I was probably too young — 11 or 12 — and didn't understand everything, but that mixture of dark and twisted comedy, horror and space opera just blew my mind.
Also, since I am French, Franco-Belgian comics always had a huge influence in my life. My dad was a huge fan. I spent hours going through his bookshelf reading Tintin over and over again, but one day I came across Franquin's Last Laugh — a collection of dark comedy strips by André Franquin—and I think that's when I thought “Okay, that's it, that's what I want to do.”
Your work feels very much influenced by comics, vintage animation, and pop horror, with neon color schemes that fill us with nostalgia for our childhoods as 90s kids. Could you speak more about this particular aesthetic in your work?
I don't know if it's the fact that I'm obsessed with space imagery or because I spent my early years staring at Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon artwork, but there is clearly something about neon colours on black background that floats my boat. I think it's kind of therapeutic, as I am actually terrified of the dark (but not as much as I used to be!). This aesthetic is somehow a way for me to tame my fears and anxiety. It also has some erotic connotations, which is a theme I sometimes like to explore with suggested female sexuality.
Also, on a more pragmatic note, I just love the idea of using a limited colour palette!
We love the mix of humor and darkness in your drawings and paintings— a werewolf croons sexily to the moon in a one-piece bathing suit, while in another sentient flowers with sharp teeth relax under the stars, and in yet another a plague doctor lifts his robe in a flirty way. There’s also something very sweet and yet sad and lonely about giving an ice flower to a dead astronaut. What do you think is the role of dark humor in your work?
I guess that's just what I am, dark and funny! It may sound silly but I can't really think of any other reason. My work mostly mirrors my personality, and I don't like anything too extreme. When it comes to my work, I never want to draw something too dark or too sweet, hence the flowers with sharp teeth, sexy plague doctors or cute monsters. Maybe it's also just another way of owning my dark side instead of being afraid of it.
You described yourself to us as a “space witch.” What is a space witch? Can we be honorary space witches with you?
How corny is it if I say I draw my energy by looking at the stars?
More seriously, I guess I describe myself as a space witch because nothing makes me feel more grounded than thinking about the universe and the utter insignificance of Earth and our solar system in it. It may sound paradoxical, but the idea of being absolutely nothing on the scale of the cosmos is what makes me feel powerful and strong. I serve absolutely no purpose in the grand scheme of the universe so the only thing that matters is living a nice life, being kind to myself and others and do what I want and not what society expects me to do, because we'll all be gone in the blink of an eye.
If you could visit any place and time in the universe, when and where would you visit, and why?
I would visit Earth after humankind has been wiped out and see how it's doing without us, because I'm sure it's gonna do great.
What projects are you working on right now? Where can folks find and purchase your work?
See all those drawings with a pink-haired lady astronaut? They're all part of a graphic novel I'm working on, about a girl who battles with depression and becomes a space goddess looking for a new planet for humankind. But right now, I'm focused on doing the Inktober challenge on Instagram. I try to do it every year and it's a great way to stimulate your creativity.
I'm also taking commissions at the moment so anyone can contact me on Instagram!