Like many, Élise Rigollet’s practice has needed to adapt over the past few months. But adjusting to a new norm seems to be this freelance graphic designer’s forte; since we last heard from her in early 2019, not only has she moved from Glasgow back to Paris, she’s also taken on a vast amount of commissions that tie in nicely with her shifts at various design studios, “which has been a really nice balance,” she tells It’s Nice That.
A part-time designer at Studio Elana Schlenker, working mainly on editorial projects, magazines and books, Élise has gone on to found her own collective, Riso Sur Mer, with friends that she’d met in Glasgow and Paris during 2018. An impressive client list filled with the likes of The New York Times plus &Walsh, it’s safe to say that this designer knows good design and is continuously striving to improve her practice. “I feel like I’ve become a bit more multi-disciplinary since we last spoke,” she adds, “whether it be artworks for album covers or editorial illustration, I’ve enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone.” What’s more is that she’s also been commissioning other creatives for certain projects, culminating in a selection of “rewarding” collaborations to boot.
Élise explains how, during the current crisis, she feels lucky with her isolation circumstances. “I’m isolating with a friend, and it’s been very helpful to keep a somewhat regular routine – with work but also in my daily life,” she says. Though now having passed the six-week mark of the lockdown in France, she tells us how it doesn’t feel quite real. Yet one thing's for certain, she’s really felt the drastic effect on the self-publishing community; with fairs cancelled or postponed until some time in the future, it’s a difficult situation that many rely on for their income – including some of her friends. “With my collective Riso Sur Mer, we had planned to table at the LA ABF this month, among other fairs, and it’s difficult to imagine when we’ll be able to get back to normal.” Doubts aside, however, this current norm can serve creativity in a positive way, allowing designers and artists alike to spend some time experimenting, working on personal projects, or even just having a break from it all.
A recent project saw the designer create a visual identity for Sure Thing, with plans for it to be housed across their digital platforms. An event series, podcast and record label run by Aaron Jen and currently based in Boston, MA, Élise tell us how she “loved” creating the “abstract” visuals for the commission – “it’s something I usually do more in my personal work.” Elsewhere, she’s also designed and art directed a book for music company Vinyl Me, Please last year, a 220-page collection of essays by different authors, sharing their personal stories with record stores across the country. Enlisting Clay Hickson to work on the illustrations, she says how it was “such a pleasure”, ensuing a colourful result with a yellow fabric cover and silver foil, plus the use of neon pink and cornflower blue spot colours across the pages.
Then, as part of her freelancing gig at Studio Elana Schlenker and her design partnership with Mark Bernice from Out Of Office, they decided to hold Out Of Office Hours – a weekly event held on Thursdays that offers design services to anyone affected by the pandemic. “Through this initiative, I had the chance to design a visual identity for Foxglove Doula, a new birth doula practice by Vivian Ewing, in Massachusetts this summer,” says Élise. “She provides continuous body-positive, sex-positive, gender-affirming support throughout pregnancy, labour and birth. This is a really fun project to work on, as Vivian’s direction was based on positivity and warmth.”
Above all, Élise finds the most rewarding part of her practice to be the moment that she’s able to hold the finished project in her hands. “After spending weeks, sometimes months on designing a book, choosing the paper, the inks, it’s always amazing to witness its materiality at the end of the process.” She also wants wants to keep growing her practice and, once things return to a level of normality, Élise hopes to seek out even bigger projects. “I can’t wait to see what the next few months have on the cards for me.”
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.