Register

Illustrator Profile - Marie Assenat: "I never stop learning"

By Robert Newman   Thursday December 15, 2016

Marie Assenat is a Brooklyn-based illustrator who grew up in Paris and went to school in Belgium. Her illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and she recently completed an animation project for Tiffany & Co. in Japan. Assent also works on creating packaging and clothing pattern design. Her work is charming and stylish, created with gouache, ink, colored pencils and a touch of Photoshop. Assenat works out of a shared studio in Greenpoint with a view of the Manhattan skyline, which she describes as “the best source of inspiration.”

MY LIFE:
I was lucky to be raised in Paris where there’s a lot happening—my mother and my grandmother used to take me to see art exhibitions and ballet. My father showed me old movies and made me listen to a lot of classical music. All of this was a good mix to awaken my artistic sense.

My father is a photographer, my mother is an editor who specializes in interior decoration and my brother is a photo retoucher. I was born surrounded by nice images and good taste so it was super easy for me to follow that path. I’m much more impressed by my creative friends that are coming from a totally different background!

I studied graphic design for five years in Belgium but I took an illustration class as part of the program. Without this illustration class I would have had to change departments. I drew a lot during these five years.

I haven’t done any other jobs. I was lucky enough to start working as an illustrator directly after leaving school, even if my incomes were really low at the beginning!

MY WORKSPACE:
I’m sharing a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with five other illustrators. We are located by the waterfront so we can see the Manhattan skyline from our window. Nothing can beat this incredible view! It’s the best source of inspiration!

Also, the good thing about the studio is that I have to speak in English because I’m the only French-speaker. I’m much more efficient and productive being surrounded by other people working! There’s no nap temptation.

HOW I MAKE MY ILLUSTRATIONS:
I draw everything by hand using brushes and gouache, ink and colored pencils. If I have to be quick I add color with Photoshop. I usually draw lot of separate elements and gather them all on the computer. I like to try different tools otherwise I get bored quickly. Recently my boyfriend offered me an iPad Pro so I’m starting to draw and experiment things with the Apple Pencil—the results are really surprising!

MY FIRST BIG BREAK:
This didn’t got me noticed but made me confident to start working as an illustrator: In my last year of art school, my illustration teacher showed my work to a publisher who was agree to meet with me and got me my first children’s book deal. I thought, OK I’m a real illustrator who is getting a real job. That was the starting point!

MY INFLUENCES:
It started with Babar picture books when I was really little. I also love Paul Cox’s work because he is always experimenting things with new tools. I love the fact that he is great at doing lots of different things like posters, children’s books, scenography, wooden games…I also love Tove Jansson’s stories, Tomi Ungerer’s children’s books, Matisse collages, David Hockney drawings, Basquiat

MY MOST ADMIRED CREATIVE PERSON:
There are a few: I love Marcel Dzama for the really special world he created, Jockum Nordström for the beauty of his drawings and collages, Misaki Kawai because her paintings are always making me smile, and my favorite pattern designer, Mina Perhonen.

MY CREATIVE INSPIRATION:
I love to look on Pinterest to find old photograph from the 30s and 60s. The characters are always well dressed and their haircuts are always really fun. For me, it’s the best inspiration to draw my human figures.

I also love to find old picture books.

Tumblr and Instagram are also a good source of inspiration but I’m trying to avoid looking at too much illustration; it’s better to look at photographs to find interesting colors or shapes as inspiration for drawing.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF WORKING ALONE:
Making a living, trying to get better, staying motivated—and I never stop learning!!

A MEMORABLE ASSIGNMENT FROM THE PAST YEAR
I just finished working on an animation project for Tiffany & Co. in Japan, something really exciting! A Japanese master of animation is giving life to my drawings; it’s just magical! I can’t wait to be able to share this project!

DREAM ASSIGNMENT:
I would love to do a silk scarf for Hermès!

MY FAVORITE ART DIRECTOR:

I recently started to work with Matt Dorfman on editorial assignments for The New York Times Book Review. It was really pleasant and I felt confident with myself. There is a relationship based on trust with him that makes me go deeper into ideas and wants to give the best of myself!

SOME OF MY FAVORITE ILLUSTRATORS:
Mari Kanstad Johnsen and Luke Best are two of my favorites. They manage to be so free, easy, spontaneous, smart and beautiful! Also all my friends are a big source of inspiration!!

OTHER WORK:
I’m doing pattern design for the children’s clothing brand Oeuf NYC. I’ve been working with this brand for two years—I love to see my drawings printed on really nice fabrics.

I also really enjoy doing packaging illustrations for my friend’s chocolate brand Le Chocolat des Français. It’s really fun to do and I'm getting paid my weight in chocolate!!

HOW I PROMOTE MYSELF:
I’m trying to post things on a regular basis on Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. And sometimes I’m sending little prints and chocolate to the most precious clients.

ADVICE FOR SOMEONE STARTING OUT:
Don’t listen to people who are trying to discourage you by saying that you will never make a living as an illustrator. Please yourself, work hard, and it should work out at some point!

See more Marie Assenat illustrations, new work and updates:
Marie Assenat website
Tumblr
Instagram: @marieassenat



0 Comments

No comments yet.


Profiles