Today, we are joined by Jacques & Lise . You can view their portfolio here.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
As children we always loved to draw, create characters or get lost in imagination. Later as young adults somehow we both ended up studying graphic design at the same art school, the place where we first met and also for the first time really discovered the fun possibilities of illustration. A little world opened up for us and we started to realize that this was the thing we always loved doing, creating things. By illustrating freelance or as profession, there’s also that little part of you that never really has to fully grew up and can stick to it’s childhood adventure mindset and imagination, how fun is that?
Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?
Most learning comes from experimenting and just trying new things, but seeking inspiration and watching others can also broaden the horizon. As your knowledge grows with the years, so do the tools and methods you can use. In that sense it becomes easier to illustrate something, but at the same time having more methods or workarounds can also sometimes make it more difficult because it brings extra choices you have to make. As a designer you have the freedom of infinite routes and possibilities in visualizing something, but even then we’re still always afraid to pick any, because that one may not be the only and absolute best choice.
What does your creative process look like?
When it is for a client it always starts with a brainstorm, sometimes ideas also come naturally but those usually wound up as personal projects. After some sketching or exchanging sketches to each other, the next step is setting up a mood board with some research items such as inspiration and references. Then comes the difficult part of putting it all together and trying to make the concept or idea really work, and also both being happy about it. After that is the fun part, playing with color options or final details just to give it that extra little fun dimension.
Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?
‘Behind Illustration’ by Index Book, as well as their second edition, are truly beautiful books with a great curated selection of modern illustrations and styles. Great as inspiration or just wonderful to look in. When it comes to software or programs, photoshop and illustrator are the ones we use most. Other than that, as a medium we really love silk screened work, and even when we design something not intended to be printed this way, we often still try to reduce the number of colors in a work. There is just something special about a limited color palette that gives a unique style and vibe when the colors are picked right.
Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?
Going for a walk or visiting a city or an unfamiliar place can be great as inspiration. Seeing things you might not see everyday, as ordinary as they may be, but by rethinking them or questioning them again, there are a lot of funny jokes and unique concepts that can be found. Maybe it has to do something with the fact that illustrators and designers often spend so much time inside behind their computers, pen and paper, and that when they finally go out any visual impulse is already a nice impression.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
Mornings are usually the most productive, you can get the most done by starting of early and knowing that you’ll have the full day without any other obligations or obstructive tasks in your way, as little as they may be. Sometimes the most productive hours are also those that don’t fall into the typical idea of working hours. Getting up a couple hours early, or working a little bit extra at night with some music in the background, it feels like anything you do then is free of pressure and can only be an extra accomplishment to be taken into the upcoming working day.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?
There’s two sides of the coin. It’s great that artists can find unique opportunities they may not otherwise have had the chance to, it is also easy to work remotely because it can save time and money otherwise used for traveling and to organize. On the other hand it really toughens up the competition, if a client has decided to find a designer to do remote work, then it can be anyone from all over the world. It takes a lot more work and promotion to stand your ground, maybe artists will now work harder and go further to make a mark and thus raising the standard and quality. But at the same there’s also the danger that more people are willing to work underpaid, lowering the value of design work in general. It is strange that we have done some projects for people we have never met in real life or even know how they look like, but so far the experiences have been great and by that our view on remote design work is still a very positive one.
What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?
A combination of both worlds is the most ideal, but completely dropping the ability to freelance would be disheartening. For us the chance to stand behind our own work has more value than the money we would earn from it, or could earn by working full-time in a local agency. By working as a freelancer you can truly leave your own mark, which is a combination of your own mindset, culture, humor and experiences or memories. You can build your own identity which people will recognize you by, while staying true to your own artistic expression and visions.
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
The most ideal projects are those where the client fully entrusts the work to us, where we can surprise the client with a design proposal or idea in an almost finalized state. Early sketches sometimes have the risks that they not truly bring across their potential, because a finalized work is a combination of so many factors that really make an idea or feeling come alive. By being able to show something that is almost finished, you can really surprise and be extra convincing about something. Of course it’s a risk by spending the extra time on a design that might be brought down, or has to be started from scratch. But if everything is right and the project and client fits the situation, then i.