Illustrator Maïté Marque on why she loves to depict women who unashamedly “take up space”

For the Paris-based illustrator, making work is and always has been like therapy.

11 September 2020

Every time Maïté Marque puts pen to paper, she feels like she is immersing herself in her very own homemade anime. Currently based in Paris where she is studying graphic design, Maïté grew up in Meudon, just outside the city in the suburbs. Art, particularly painting, has always been therapeutic for the illustrator. She remembers visiting her family in the Dominican Republic, surrounded by colourful art all around her.

“All my aunties’ houses were covered with colourful paintings, fruits with bright colours which contrasted heavily with my house in France,” she tells us, “which was always decorated in a very minimalistic way.” In turn, she became “obsessed” with the vibrant colours which reminded her of happy times in the Dominican Republic; a signature feature found in her work to this day. Now, she’s crafted a unique aesthetic which feels pointedly digital and painterly at the same time.

Her work has been featured in the likes of Inonica Magazine and gal-dem where her work takes on a more editorial approach, and she’s also been commissioned by French streetwear brand Veheme. Fundamentally for Maïté, however, “illustration is and always has been a therapy for me.” A way to escape reality and fight anxiety at the same time, creating illustrations has the same effect as writing in a journal: catharsis. “I recreate scenes of my reality and it helped me deal with strong emotions,” she adds. First, she observes what her mind and body are going through. Then, she draws it, thus, taking a step back from the feelings at play.


Copyright © Maïté Marque, 2020

In a recent illustration, Maïté expresses exactly that. She explains: “When I am taken away by very strong negative emotions like endless sadness or anxiety and feel completely overwhelmed but it, I’ll do my makeup for hours even if I have nowhere to go, it helps me heal the pain.” In the beautiful illustration, she captures a version of herself imbued with fluorescent tones reminiscent of highlighter or blush. It’s a visualisation of this coping mechanism.

Maïté likes to hand-draw her sketches before adding colours digitally. A natural when it comes to digital technologies – especially using the colouring tool – Maïté digitally illustrating is like a duck taking to the water. With a myriad of colours at her disposal, something she is also obsessed with, for Maïté, “the choice of colours in Procreate of Photoshop is astonishing and it feels like I have endless possibilities.” Vivid colours paired in unconventional palettes are just one of many qualities which make the illustrator’s work so distinctive. Other than that, it’s the abstract shapes and the materialisation of emotion which stands out in her work.

“I mainly represent women,” she adds on her subject matter, “because it’s so pleasurable to draw female curves!” For a while, she’s also been interested in the theme of witches – “inherently feminist figures” symbolising womanhood in general. “They are mysterious figures,” she says on their allure, “demonised and mystified at the same time, and they represent the essence of feminine power.” In a sense, Maïté’s work depicts this idea of the modern witch, someone with a strong and secure sense of self that “navigate[s] through their sexuality and sensuality without fearing judgement.” This is the kind of person that the illustrator aspires to be and in turn, why she loves to draw women who unashamedly “take up space”.

GalleryMaïté Marque (Copyright © Maïté Marque, 2020)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.

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