Eriphyle Interview: On Art Nouveau, Japan, and Scouts

Scout Nouveau - The Artwork of Eriphyle

Eriphyle is Dora Lerf, an artist that has been creating her own blend of artistic mash-ups in the daily shirt scene since as far back as we can remember, and we’re super old!  Ok, only five years old, but you get the point. Eriphyle’s recent series of “Scout Nouveau” posters gave RIPT a chance to focus on a particular artist and a particular body of work while straying from the 24-hour sales model.  The “Scout Nouveau” artist store will be available at RIPT Apparel for over two weeks and give fans more than ample time to decide which of their favorites will be joining their collection.
The following interview was conducted by Whitney Zech of the RIPT Apparel art department.

RIPT – Hey Dora!  Amazing work with all these Sailor Moon designs!  As an avid fan and an artist myself, these bring me such joy and a tear to my eye!

Hey Whitney! Thank you – I think the biggest compliment I can get is my work being appreciated by other fans. They are the most critical audience afterall! 😉

Besides being a super fan girl, what prompted you to start this journey of recreating the sailor scouts in Alphonse Mucha style?

Two years ago I visited home for the summer and missed my plane back to the UK. Since this happened during the olympics, I was unable to book another flight for a good month… I ended up being stuck in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy without much to do. They were celebrating 150 years of Klimt’s artwork in Vienna at that time (he is another big favourite of mine!). While he had an entirely different approach of secession, after finishing a piece inspired by him, I turned to Mucha who is one of my all time favourites. I was re-reading the manga at that time and it came naturally to combine the two things I am so passionate about.

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“By Moonlight” based on Alphonse Mucha’s “Morning Star” – See all the inspirations for the Scout Nouveau Series on imgur.

Was there a moment when you personally felt like “This is me, this is my style?”  How did you get there and what was it like to become comfortable with your artistic ability, if that is in fact how you feel?

I think I am still looking for my “style” but I can see more and more consistency in my work. I guess “your style” just gradually happens over time, haha. I like to try out new things, new styles, it helps me see what works for me, what I want to keep and incorporate in my work in the long run, but in the end I just do things that look good for me. I think the hardest part was to be able to “place myself” in the big picture, to stop constantly comparing myself to other people but still see where I am skillwise. It helps that I know that every time I do something, I take pride in it and do it the best I can at that time – this way, even when I look back much later, I still can feel proud despite seeing the errors.

This all began with “By Moonlight” in 2012 and within two years you have finally completed the series with “Small Lady”.  Being an outside observer I can see your skills have grown immensely!  Where do you feel like you have grown the most in terms of skill and where do you still want to improve?

To be fair, the series started very differently with Sailor Pluto. I have reworked that piece about three or four times until it reached its final form not long ago. I put her aside to work on the inner senshi since they felt more popular and thus more easily marketable, starting with the titular character Sailor Moon. She got printed at Ript in 2012 and the rest is history!

I think I can safely say that I have improved at anatomy – I still have a hard time getting it right so I definitely want to work on that, but at least it’s better than when I started, haha. I put much effort into learning colouring techniques and “thinking in halftones”. I still have a long way to go because I am just terrible at picking base colours!

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Process work on “Silence”. 1: “Very rough composition sketch without any real understanding what I am doing – the different parts are in different colours so I always know which line belongs to which part.” 2: “I hate the face. Let’s try another one.” 3: “Starting to refine the first sketch in preparation for inking. These were from a year ago. I take a break here. Wise decision.”

With all the scouts, which one came the most naturally during your art creation process and which one was more resilient being drawn?

Things went downhill while drawing Jupiter – I felt forced continuing the series but in reality, noone was holding a gun to my head, I just really needed a break. I think it shows but maybe it’s just me seeing the struggle only in that piece, since I have had people telling me they liked it. After finishing her, I didn’t even create a new piece for a year, just focused on other projects. It definitely was a good decision for the series, because I really enjoyed working on the outers after and I think it shows.

Sailor Uranus is my favorite, and you did such a good job capturing her entire character.  I’m sure everyone is wondering this too, but which sailor scout is your favorite?

I was very careful not to tell while working on the series but I guess it’s ok now~ My favourite is Sailor Neptune! Although I really like to draw Sailor Cosmos simply because she looks so good, even if she is a very obscure character.

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4: “I start digging through my sketches a year later. No. It was bad. Let’s try it with including more human anatomy.” 5: “Sketch in low opacity, starting to work out the details as well as start inking. I decide to salvage one of the previously drawn faces because I like it.”

You recently visited Japan, I’m so jealous!  What was it like living there and was there any particular reason for your journey?  And what was your weirdest experience while being there?

I have been living here for a year now – came here as part of my university’s exchange program which is soon coming to an end. To put it nicely, it was anything but amazing at the start but living here definitely grew on me! I am not one of those people who came here dreaming about this all my life thinking everything is better and perfect in Japan. I rediscovered my love for Japan from an entirely different angle than I expected and it was much needed. I don’t see it happening but maybe I’d like to live in Kyoto one day.

In general I think Japanese toilets weird me out the most, I could go on about them for hours. It’s really interesting to see that there is not much middle ground in Japan, something is either very high-tech or utterly obsolete.

With the new anime reviving the Sailor Moon series, did you see a lot of it in Japan?  Are they celebrating Sailor Moon as much as the fans around the world are?

Oh gosh, it’s CRAZY. I still can’t get used to it that I bump into random Sailor Moon merch or ads here and there, although it probably gets a bit lost in the sea of other animes. Still, I can tell it’s somewhat special for Japanese people too.

I feel so lucky to have been here when the reboot started. I started drawing again, I picked Japanese at the university and eventually ended up in Japan. So most things that define me at the moment in my mid-twenties are because I watched Sailor Moon as a kid. I can thank so much to it and it feels amazing to relieve those memories here, in Japan.

Now that the series is done, what do you see on your plate next?  Will you continue down the huge path of Sailor Moon characters, dive into a new fandom or start exploring your personal art more?  If there are any particular series or fandoms, which are you really wanting to jump into and explore?  I see you’re a Marvel, Disney and Sandman fan!

I have a couple Sailor Moon related ideas I want to do but they are not nouveaus – I probably take a break from those for a bit (but last time I said this, I made one the following week~). I think I want to do less complicated things for now, definitely more personal art and explore more fandoms. I’d be up for doing more licensed work too.

I think people appreciate clever ideas so I prefer to do those, nouveaus are mostly about just being pretty. I’d love to do a Full Metal Alchemist related piece, I also play a LOT of games and still waiting for the perfect Bioshock idea. I might try my hand at drawing comics – either a personal retelling of an old tale or my adventures in Japan.

You’re an obvious fan of Alphonse Mucha, are there any other artist styles that you either truly love or personally want to experiment with?

I love combining fine art with pop culture but it’s important for me I do it cleverly. I think Mucha and Klimt are the two artists I reach for the most but I am obviously influenced by a lot of contemporary artists too (I think this shows in my personal work mostly, not when I do a homage/parody picture). I love doing pinups and I recently played with the idea of applying for a tattoo apprenticeship. Weirdly enough I don’t feel the anime/manga style is really my own. I love the works of Audrey Kawasaki, Tanaka Ayuko, James Jean, loish, Morita Haruyo, Em Carroll, Claire Hummel, Chiara Bautista and the list could go on endlessly. Looking at their beautiful art inspires me and gives me ideas but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a style until I can say it is my own.

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6: “Line art is done! I am happy with it so on to colouring.” 7: “After trying out several color schemes and hating all, I finally pick the 5 colours I will be using for this piece. I lay down the base colours which are dark purple in varying opacities, yellow, red, green and off-white. The skin colour is achieved by a mix of red laid over the off-white.” 8: “Shading! I declare it done. Happy with it, moving on.”

I’m sure ton of your fans look up to you as an artist and gather lots of inspiration from you.  Do you have any tips or thoughts for new or experienced artists who are fans of your work?

I never thought of anyone being inspired me, I would be surprised! I guess the best tips I can give is to walk around and observe everything, be open, take your time and understand what you are doing. Part of my process is that sometimes I just look at pictures of something for hours until I understand how it’s built up, how it works. Don’t be afraid to start over, salvage what you like and show your best work around. Feedback is important but you have to filter: only take advice from people whose opinion you respect. Just because you make your work public, it doesn’t mean that everyone has a right to tell you how you should be doing it.

In closing I want to take this as an opportunity to personally thank you for your hard work.  You have done the sailor scouts a great service with your artwork and it truly shows how much you love Sailor Moon.  Also, Thank You on behalf of RIPT Apparel, we love having you here and are really excited about your designs!

Thank you for having me and making this series accessible for those who have followed my progress in the past two years 🙂

Check out all of Eriphyle’s illustrations in the Scout Nouveau store at RIPT Apparel.
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