Featured Illustrator

Cécile Gariepy

April 2018

We love how Cécile Gariepy's illustrations put a little smile on our faces 😂 Cécile started out on a completly different career path and started doodling to make herself laugh—and we're so glad she did! Cécile shares some of the leasons she's learned on her path to becoming an illustrator and what the creative scene is like in Montreal.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I did a bachelors degree in cinema in Montreal. I worked about 5 years as a commercial and TV director before moving to Paris to do a masters degree in cinema aesthetics. Before returning to grad school, I had been very busy travelling for my work, making documentary programs around the world. Even if I considered myself lucky, I still found that the job was very demanding and that it was particularly hard to succeed as a woman.

What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?

Everything went according to the plan until I started writing my master’s thesis. I was so scared of going nuts because of my very academic research that I started doodling. I still don’t know why I decided to put my drawings on social networks, but from there, it all started! I finished my thesis, soon stopped working as a director and started concentrating on illustration. I had a bad case of imposter syndrome at first, but now I can only enjoy this new career!

What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?

I think a great graduate brings freshness to the current illustration landscape. He does not copy the style of another artist but dares something new. Also, he is curious and open to always learn more. And last but not least, he does not take himself too seriously!

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having in mind that you have to develop a certain style is perhaps a bit counterintuitive

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How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

Since I started to draw thinking it would stay between my friends and me, I have always been very faithful to what I loved. I drew things that made me laugh. I continue to do it! So in my opinion, having in mind that you have to develop a certain style is perhaps a bit counterintuitive. It's probably better to just let go and not to stray to far from what you like the most.

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

— To be modest. Illustrators draw people and things, we do not save lives.

— Not to try copying someone else's style. This person probably already does it better than you.

— To know how to provoke inspiration, to challenge yourself.

— To arm yourself with contracts. Putting moral limits on paper with your customers is really important, even if they are the nicest people in the world.

—To know when to stop! As a freelancer, I think it’s good to set yourself a schedule and stick to it. I adopted a dog, which gives me no choice but to regulate my day. It works! And she gives great cuddles too.

What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in?

Montreal is a city full of creative people. Thanks to the quality of life, the multiculturalism and the relatively low cost of living, it’s a place that welcomes artists from all over the world. I think it's really exciting to evolve in such a vibrant community that keeps a good creative freedom. I hope to contribute to it in my own way!

Instagram: @cecile.gariepy

Website: cecile-gariepy.format.com

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