Ok, so my goal was to write a brief artist feature once a week, and all considering, I should have known the moment I set that goal there was an ice cube's chance in the fires of hell that was going to happen. In fact, that ice cube fizzled right up like it was trying to break through the hell gate in the Greendale mines... Was that joke too much a stretch? Yeah ok that's reasonable. Anyway, here I am back at my new favorite table at Barnes & Noble, all set up with my delicious Earl Grey tea, my headphones drowning out the annoying guy three tables over having a skype interview (I know, right? ugh) and it is Badass Artist Time!!
Clémence Gouy is a French expat living in NYC and I love her unapologetically femme illustrations.
"I'm a graphic designer, but I like to define myself as a storyteller. I indeed love beautiful stories (who doesn't?) thus I make a point in building every project I work on around a strong concept. The rest -identity, branding, editorial design, digital experiences...- is how you give body to this story, making my approach of design very multidisciplinary." (x)
I find Gouy's color palettes to often be softly warm and flirting with a desaturated pastel spectrum, all the while incorporating smashes of saturation. Reds, pinks and violets all play a heavy role.
Gouy has a Master's degree in Visual Communication from École de Communication Visuelle of Nantes. I think her focused background in graphic design must strongly influence the power of her narrative in each illustration.
When I was working towards my Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art, focusing in painting, I was pushed away from narrative. My professors didn't want my work to appear too illustrative; they felt the work should be open and meld to the viewers' interpretation. However, I when I think about historical painting, what were those great works if not illustrations of some magnanimous event? Couldn't we apply the parameters from the "what makes a work art vrs illustration" debate to a piece like, oh I don't know, Michelangelo's The Creation Of Adam (1512) and discover it's simply a really, really large illustration on a ceiling that you have to crane your neck to look at?
I suppose the reason I am bringing any of this up is because while I am personally debating a shift in my own creative practices, I'm meditating more and more on these words: illustration, art, contemporary art and feminist art, and finding my relationships with each word more and more convoluted.
Gouy doesn't appear troubled by this dynamic or debate. And I feel like there's something I could learn from her.