Melek Zertal on how comics have shaped her illustrations

The illustrator talks about her recent residency at Marie Claire France and how she works best when collaborating with people in different fields

Born in Algeria, but now splitting her time between Paris and California, Melek Zertal describes her work as “curating atmospheres, places and moments”. Composition and content comes first for the illustrator, and she’s drawn to capturing things that words can’t describe, subtle expressions, art nouveau architecture, sunsets and shiny coffee ware.

Zertal typically works in pencil and alcohol markers on paper, but she does the line work on one sheet and the colour on another, then merges them in Photoshop. “This process allows me to print in risography down the line if needed, but it means I don’t really have originals, only black and white drawings,” she explains. “I’m currently trying to find another technique that suits me as much. Alcohol markers are not the most environmentally friendly, and the touch-ups can be quite time consuming.”

Top: Malibu’s Palaces of Pity album art. Above: Illustration for Our Lady of the Quarry by Mariana Enriquez, New Yorker. All images by Melek Zertal