Duration: One year. I’ve been working as a full-time illustrator after quitting my job as a qualitative researcher in May 2019.
Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Education: BFA in printmaking, European School of Visual Arts, Angoulême, France; M.Sc. in linguistic anthropology, University of Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Career path: Being an illustrator was my childhood dream.So, I went to art school to learn about contemporary art, especially printmaking and artist books. After I received my BFA, I enrolled in an MFA program in London as a natural next step for my career. But a few weeks before the beginning of the semester, I realized that my work had been so boring throughout my art school education. I had understood the rules of the art school game and was merely playing the right cards; it didn’t feel very genuine to pursue that direction. So I wondered about the best way to open up the world meaningfully and decided to move to Canada and study anthropology.
Four years later, I graduated from my masters’ program with my thesis on Buddhist visual culture and started a research cooperative with a couple of other anthropologists. Meanwhile, I began drawing again for the first time in four years and started sending portfolios to art directors, thinking it would be fun to be an anthropologist and an artist at the same time. To my surprise, I got many positive responses, and by May 2019, I realized that I have more fun drawing than doing research, so I quit my job. Luckily, things picked up at that moment with my first New York Times and The New Yorker gigs. These days, I’ve managed to find a balance between research and art. I’m now being contacted to work on projects because of my background in social sciences, and I started to write about illustration and the creative industry from an anthropological perspective.
Favorite project: I worked with an agency on illustrating the lessons learned by a philanthropic foundation in Canada. It was an amazing project to work on, because the designer who hired me, the art director and myself formed a small, temporary team to work through all visual aspects of the project together, and we were able to bounce ideas off of each other. I felt really proud to participate and argue about why I would use this representation rather than that one and what the images indexed culturally, among other things.
Approach: My background in the social sciences gives me a different understanding of what we do as creatives, and I bring this ethos to every project. I care a lot about what I communicate and this shows in the way I approach a brief. I’ve never been an amazingly skilled drawer, so I think people come to me for the metaphors I use and the messages I create. My style is more about the way I connect ideas to images rather than the way my work looks.
Aspirations: I would love to collaborate with institutions and brands on bigger scale projects, like murals, as well as covers for fiction and nonfiction books. I would also love to develop my theoretical work on visual culture and creativity and give more talks at conferences—maybe lecture at art programs. Also, I think writing will occupy more and more space in my life, with possibly a collection of essays about the creative industry.
Philosophy: Being honest, kind and open is at the core of how I work with people. I try to be mindful of the impact of my work since being an illustrator means creating some of the most widely distributed representations in our society. I also like to see myself as a collaborator rather than someone merely providing a service. Illustration is a powerful and complex visual communication tool, and I like to work with people who value that.
Anything else? I have the secret dream of writing and designing a musical with the puppets with the Jim Henson Company.