Interview with real people, knowing true stories and learning from a fellow creative, this is UCreative Spotlight.
The Humble Beginnings
Q: How did you start your career as an artist and designer?
I started my career pretty early I have to say… (laughs!) Indeed, my first logo was made at the age of 9 for my primary school. Our professor decided to organize a contest for designing the logo of the school and my logo wins! But I've only started my studies in Art in 2001 and started to work as a graphic designer and illustrator in 2006. I've started my carreer in Lyon (France) as a freelancer with several friends (Tom Henni and Emilie Chéron) and created an atelier named Mademoiselle, Messieurs.
[ Illustrated Postcard Set | Gîtes de France ]
We started to work together as a collective for client as Gites de France and festivals. In 2008, each of us decided to move to different cities, forcing us to work alone as freelancers. Since then, I've worked alone as an art director in Paris.
[ Poster for LES INVITES, Theater And Music Festival in Villeubanne. In collaboration with Tom Henni and Emilie Cheron. ]
Q: How long have you been doing it?
I started to work in 2006 with Mademoiselle, Messieurs (my collective) and in 2008 on my own. That is 6 years already!
Q: As an art director, how does your creative process work?
Projects in art direction can be really different, depending on the needs of the client. I think the most important part in the project is listening to the client speaking about his needs. Try to be reactive. Sometimes, the final idea comes during the first ten minutes of the meeting, while making some doodles on a sketch book. Then I begin the research stage; doing sketches and picking up pictures to make a mood-board. In doing this, I build the idea with the drawing and try to pass on the emotional direction with the mood-board. For the last stage, I just need to develop and put the finishing touches. That's it!
[ Sketches from his collaboration project with Adobe Inc. ]
Q: Who or what are your major influences in creating your art or design?
I might seem like a French romantic, but Nature inspires me a lot!
Since I grew up in the mountains, Nature has always played an important role in shaping my work. Animals and plants are crazy! I love the work of old naturalists and botanists like G.L.L. Buffon and Ernst Haeckel. I love the way their scientific approach reveals the inner beauty of things. I also love the Art and Craft period with the work of such great designer as W. Morris.
[ Illustration for NOBROW MAGAZINE, Issue 3. Animal vs Vegetal. ]
Q: Paris is a very lovely place; does it help in inspiring your creations? How?
Paris is an old city with such amazing buildings. Just by looking at the architecture, you can find really beautiful shapes, patterns, and ratios. Just try to walk around the rue Saint-Honoré and you will find not only the most amazing fashion shops in the capital, but also some of the most beautiful buildings if you keep your eyes open! The historical background is the key of the romantic city.
Paris is also a such busy place with lots of exhibitions and shows and it's always frustrating as we can't see each interesting event. The time is short in Paris and the money looks light. I feel Paris is a lovely city but you have to deserve it in a way.
Q: Do you read books about design or any other literature?
I read design books sometimes, but I prefer to read things that have nothing to do with design. If I base my project on another design, it will turn out to be a bit poor.
Q: If you did not pursue designing, what could’ve been your profession?
Haha! I always ask myself this question. I would love to work with Nature, maybe a botanical farm, growing amazing flowers. Or maybe something within the perfume industry. It's hard to answer.
[ Illustration for Wallpaper* Magazine about alternative times. ]
Conquering The Industry
Q: We’ve seen your portfolio online, and we noticed you’ve got some well-known clients. How was the experience working with them?
It depends on the client, but for example it was amazing to work with Adobe Inc. I was in close collaboration with the technical team to experiment with the new releases of Illustrator CS5. It was a really nice collaboration.
[ Tutorial Illustration FOR ADOBE.LA COMÉDIE DES ARTS created using Adobe Illustrator CS5. ]
Most of the time, well-known clients are really demanding and it's a pretty good thing. It pushes my limits further and sometimes good things are created with that process.
Q: What was the most challenging project you worked on?
Every project is challenging, but I can speak about the Britanie project as it is one of the latest. I was asked by Mathieu Lehanneur (a famous French product designer) to design the visual identity and packaging of the cosmetic brand Britanie. It was exciting to work with Mathieu as he's got such a creative mind.
[ New visual identity and packaging for French Breton Cosmetics Brand BRITANIE. Photo made for WALLPAPER* MAGAZINE by Luke Kirwan. ]
The process was really intuitive and the designs appear really easily. I also manage all the print processes and it was the first time I did packaging printing. It was so enlightening! I was happy to be able to develop the whole identity of a product brand. It's cool to see my own design in shops and to see how people react to the brand, and regarding Britanie's success!
Q: As a designer, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement, so far?
When you are a designer, you always work with constraint, with a brief made by someone else (the client). I feel the greatest achievement for a designer is to manage some personal projects and make them real. It becomes a bit frustrating to work for other people. So why not build a brand or make a personal exhibition in an art gallery? Just free yourself to the rules of commission.
[ Illustrations for FAESTHETIC, US Art Magazine. ]
Emmanuel's journey towards success is pretty fun, while doing the things he's passionate about and getting the most out of it. His impressive portfolio and experience is one of those inspiring stories that beginners in art and design can look up to. His story tells us to break boundaries to find new and exciting opportunities. You can check out more of Emmanuel's awesome projects and other works on his website.