Fakepaper is a graphic design studio born in 2011 and run by Chloé Desvenain. It carries projects of all kinds, dealing either with small businesses or global agencies; in a professional or personal purpose, through many fields such as cultural, musical or institutional. Chloé chats about the variety of courses she jumped between, her determination, and her interesting year working at Peugeot-Citroën.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? The first creative memories I have are linked to my mother who is an an art teacher. She always encouraged me to find my own way to spend free time (I’m an only child). The kind of educational games she gave me were also creatives. I particularly remember an archaeological kit for children. There were plenty of small terra cotta pieces that I had to gather, glue together and paint in order to recreate some object as it was before, like an Egyptian amphora.
I’m not sure if this is what made me want to become a creative, but I already knew around 12/13 years old that I wanted to work with images, even If I couldn’t tell it was graphic design at this time.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I studied in various schools. In France, we have the chance to choose between different quality options to study graphic design. I followed different courses: I first started with a generic art course, then a 2 years course specialized in graphic design, and I ended with an other two years course during which one I had the chance to develop my own artistic project. I also went to university before and after, where courses are more theorical. After I graduated, I worked for Peugeot-Citroën in a team dedicated to graphic and visual prospection. I was in charge to design all pictograms for touch-sensitive screens we now have in all cars.
That was very interesting as we were working on projects that would (maybe) being launched 8 or 10 years later, so we always had to imagine how we would use those medias in the futur. I stayed in the company for almost a year. While working there all week, I was also doing some freelance work, so it has been easy for me to quit and to focus full time on my own projects then.
What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate? I am essentially looking for two things (which are linked)
1: Some consistency. Even though I’m looking for someone with different skills than mine so we can complet each other, I also need someone with the same kind of aesthetic, so we both work in the same line.
2: Some personality. Every portfolios should bring out a strong visual identity, I need to feel a particular spirit. Even though the graphic identity is not clearly defined yet or still a bit clumsy, it needs to stand on a firm position. This is my priority. Technical skills and quality in execution are less important to me since anybody can improve himself while working.
What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it? I am not sure if we can speak of “disasters” but as any graphic designer, I have made some mistakes and I have sometimes been disappointed. One mistake that I can remember from a few years ago that could have been serious on a bigger project is the following: my client and I had decided to change a Pantone color, from a dull pink to a brighter one. I can not remember why and how but I completely forgot to update my file before sending it to print (You could not really tell the difference looking at the screen). I have only realized my mistake when receiving the prints from the printing house. Being responsible for this, I had to pay for everything to be print again. Hopefully that was not a big amount of money, but it served as a lesson.
Also, some work situations can sometimes be the cause of a certain frustration, and make me doubting about my desire to be a graphic designer. When you work on the same projects for weeks or months, that you are confident with the direction to take and had the green light from everybody, and they suddenly change their mind… this is discouraging!
What has been your highlights since you started out? I think I am someone quite persistent, serious also. This question is not easy to answer, and because I’m french, my first reaction should be to denigrate myself, but I would say that my determination has been the key. I don’t give up easily. I’m used to invest the best of myself in all projects and I guess my clients can feel it, and appreciate it. I think this is a big part in creating balanced and respectful relationships with the people you work with. You can’t deny this isn’t about a service or about money, but involving yourself personally is always a good way to build strong relations with your clients and bring your work further. Of course it’s not always ideal, it all depends of the people you work with.
Whats the big goal in the next five years? I have been working as a freelance graphic designer for 7 years now, working either by myself or in a team, and I am thinking about giving more structure to my activity. Fakepaper needs to become an “autonomous” studio with various permanent collaborators and partners, not only me. We have been two people working in the studio for a few months now and we are doing pretty well. It takes time to arrive here, you need to find the person who will fit the role, who feels confortable, shares your creative points of view, mets the clients, builds confident relationships, etc… it’s a long term investment. This is where I want to go. I think we are always stronger being multiple.