Artist Interview with Margaux Carpentier
15 February 2022
Margaux is an illustrator and print maker based in Stoke Newington. She studied in both Paris and Surrey and spent her early twenties playing poker, playing with pens and various mediums until she developed her unique graphic style. She now adapts her illustrations in 3D as well as large scale murals. Earthy and folk inspired, her work also draws on fantastical elements and wild imagination.
1. How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Colourful, bold, oneiric.
2. What has been your favourite project to date and why?
Maybe painting murals and all sorts of things at London Zoo! Not that the result is my most personal and cherished work, but I just loved travelling there, spending the day amongst animals (in captivity, yes yes I know) and zookeepers, understanding the daily routines and stories of such a place. Roberta the Eagle flying away, Heathcliff the Humboldt Penguin looking for trouble, Regent’s Park squirrels quarrelling with the Squirrel Monkeys, Partacus the Pygmy goat eating my sketches, some Huntsman Spiders new lodger freshly (and clandestinely!) arrived from Heathrow! Nothing beats finishing a day’s work to the roaring of Lions and Tigers.
3. How has the past year changed the way you work?
I guess I work less, and everything to an extent feels a bit pointless, or without substance at the moment. But maybe that’s just a personal and random impression. I do spend more time experimenting with personal work and hands-on stuff, which has been really exciting and I want to keep doing!
4. What is your current workspace like?
I’ve recently moved to a new studio in Haggerston, east London a few months ago and it is the first time I have a space all to myself. It’s got a pastel green floor and one melon pink wall. It’s small but has 3 big windows, when the sun shines in it is dreamy! I miss the buzz of being around other studio mates all day long however I just love coming in in the morning and turning on my French radio (mainly France inter. Boomerang!) or I listen to audiobooks and bad music for hours! Luckily, I’m surrounded by 11 other studios, so it doesn’t feel lonely, and neighbours often gather at the downstairs cafe.
5. What is the best and worst thing about being a freelance illustrator and why?
The best and worst may be exactly the same aspect of the job: the freedom that being a freelancer entails. It is intoxicating to be — at a very tangible level — completely in charge of your schedule and career choices, but the joy can sometimes turn into overwhelming anxiety - The existentialists got this right- as choices are hard to make, and I constantly have to be on top of everything: admin, finances, orders, deadlines etc.
7. Where do you find inspiration for your work? Who influences you?
I often dig, consciously or not, into the cocktails of things seen, heard, read or felt throughout the years. I struggle to put my practice into a box, and the best way I find to describe it is to call myself a story-teller. A writer or a poet traditionally uses words to tell stories, I use shapes and colours. Consequently — and somehow paradoxically — I reckon my most direct source of inspiration would be words. The current ‘fashion’ and mood has a massive impact on all of us, it is a daily challenge to not get swallowed by it, but I would say that my images are irremediably a product of their time.
8. How did you develop your signature style? How does it differ to when you first started out?
The two fundamental pillars of my practice are the love of colours and the need to tell stories. My style evolved partly through the discovery of new media, like computers, drawing tablets, print-making etc. I actively try to always move forward and keep exploring, as I personally see no point in doing the same thing over and over again and don’t actually want to be cornered in repeating one signature style. It is vital for me to find new shapes, textures and ways to express ideas.
9. Looking forward to 2022, what and who would be your dream project or client?
A dream project for 2022 would be to create something big and hands-on, like a piece of public art, and maybe having to paint for days, weeks, somewhere sunny!
I also want to work on my own book, but I think the solitary aspect of the task puts me off a little, whereas when I create an outdoor piece it is embedded into a social context and I really enjoy the interaction that comes out of it.
10. What do you wish you’d known when just starting out that you know now?
I wish I had read more books about feminism and genders studies, colonialism, racial strggles, climate change and politics in general, that I have been more aware of all the issues our world it currently facing.
11. Having worked on various projects from advertising to editorial to packaging — which has been your favourite avenue and why?
Murals and big pieces, because I love the physicality of it. I think I just love working outside, even if I sometimes find it challenging.
12. What message do you hope people take away from your work?
I hope my work makes audiences dream a little. Whatever they may wish for.
Take a tour of Margaux’s folio!
If you’ve got a project on the go and would like to work with Margaux, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a ring at +44(0)20 3222 0007