Despite the confidence which glimmers through her work, Montreal-based illustrator Cecile Gariepy is surprisingly fresh to the industry. Since graduating from film school a few years ago, Cecile has worked as a director, so “my work as an illustrator is very, very new. It’s only been six months since I started doing it more seriously”. In those six months, Cecile has somehow managed to formalise a nuanced and unexpected colour palette and a family of clumsily, clownishly charming characters to go with it.
“It all started when I moved to Paris for my masters [in cinema at the Sorbonne] in 2014,” she tells us. “After a while, my studies became very demanding and I was looking for ways not to sink into madness. I started drawing more and more because it allowed me to escape from my very academic research. I began putting my work on social medias. Before I could actually understand what was going on, I was doing work for my favourite newspaper!”
So how do illustration and films intersect in Cecile’s work? “When I take a look at it, my work as a director and as an illustrator is very similar: I try to portray a story, an impression, or even a simple emotion. I love illustration because it allows me to include far-fetched elements to the story — elements which could not be shown in real life.” And, with a client list which already includes The New York Times, Curbed magazine, Lez Spread the Word magazine, La Ville de Montréal, Avanaa chocolates and advertising agencies such as Lg2 and Studio Caserne, not to mention the ten animated commercials for a food company will air nationwide in Quebec this week, Cecile’s illustration work clearly resonates.
“I love to laugh and make others laugh, so I try to make my work playful,” Cecile says. “I take inspiration from simple things. I stage them to reveal sometimes their absurdity, sometimes their sensitivity. Illustration is such a powerful medium: you can tell anything with some colours, forms, and a good idea! And for it to be really good, it should be understandable by all.”