Born in Sorel and now based out of Montreal, Canadian illustrator Audrey Malo is wildly charming. Evoking the same blend of magic and macabre as popular television show Adventure Time, Audrey’s illustrations conjure up a cartoon world full of quirk. Fitting that Audrey’s dreams of illustration started in a childhood daydream. “I mean I wanted to be an illustrator even when I didn’t know that you have to earn money to live,” Audrey tells It’s Nice That. “I wanted to live the life of an artist, make books and have my work be seen in journals, magazines and on packaging.” Starting in the mid 2000s, Audrey would share her work across the advent of social media: LiveJournal, Flickr, anything that was available. Now, Audrey’s come a long way, with clients such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vice and Reebok.
Audrey’s style is a refined craft, something she tells us she first honed in on around “two or three years ago” when artistically experimenting. “I’d say my style is both graphic and organic,” Audrey explains. “I like to work with contrasts and proportions, and I will try to oppose big elements to small ones and work with geometric shapes and a ruler, then add squiggly shapes and lines.” Often, Audrey lets this style dictate the way for her ideas. It’s rare that she approaches an illustration with a concept in the beginning. Instead, she lets doodles and sketches take precedence. “From improvised doodles and small pencil drawings I’ll then scan or photograph it and rework the sketch on my iPad until it becomes something,” she explains. “At my core what inspires me the most is nostalgia, cartoons, vintage children books, toys and growing up in the suburbs.”
Whilst such themes are definitely prevalent in Audrey’s work, her latest turn towards “wider society, popular meme culture, the quest for love, and the small routines of everyday life” has evolved Audrey’s talent, allowing her to make a richer series of drawings. It’s clear in her recent endeavour for Montreal-based publishing house La Pastèque, which was used for the author Patrick Isabelle and the podcasting network La Puce à l’oreille. “It was an experimental project in which Patrick improvised a story based on Alice in Wonderland and I created illustrations based on his writings,” Audrey says. “The process was recorded as a podcast for kids to learn about the various steps that come with creating a book.” To work with such an important publishing house in French Canada was a “dream” for Audrey, who had longed to work with them since she was “18 or so.”
Now, Audrey wants to “keep being surprised about what’s next” for her and her art. “I want to work on projects I never thought could be possible or thought about, collaborate and meet fantastic people and make new friends along the way,” she says. “I’d like to create more work that is tangible in the real world and that includes doing more books.”
Audrey Malo: Bubulles (Copyright © Audrey Malo, 2020)