Our Then x Ten interview today is with French illustrator and character designer Genevieve Gauckler. Genevieve's quirky and playful characters have been adopted by many well-known companies such as Nokia, Lacoste and Paris store Colette. Gauckler was commissioned by us to contribute a contemporary poster for our Then x Ten exhibition and has chosen to design a poster for the Setu chair, inspired by what she refers to as its "organic technology".
What led you to pursue a career as an illustrator?
I started my career with graphic design, working for publishing companies and record labels. I was more and more attracted by illustration, I was starting to draw characters and realised it was so much fun. Also, making an illustration is like building up a miniature world, it reminds me when I was a child playing with toys and imaging a landscape with people and animals. I still enjoy using typography. Choosing a font, searching for new fonts is so cool.
Describe a typical day at the office.
I’m an early bird, I’m very efficient in the morning and I’m working on the challenging jobs. The afternoon is dedicated to research.
Can you reveal to us some of your tools of the trade and preferred artmaking materials?
My tools are mainly computer and the usual applications such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I like using both together, Illustrator to draw with vectors of course and then Photoshop to add some textures to the artwork, to “humanise” it.
How has your approach evolved over the years, do you have any rituals or routines you follow before embarking on an illustration?
A few years ago, I used to draw a lot, which I still do sometimes, but not that often. I like to look at my favorite books and to have a look at my favorites blogs and websites before starting working. If I’m creatively stuck, I go outside, sit in a café or go to a good bookshop, or even better, go to a museum.
What element of design could you not live without?
Without doubt my MacBook Pro. I’ve been an Apple addict for many years now. Also I love my large Italian (Moroso) sofa where I spend a lot of time working!
How has technology changed your art form if at all?
The Macintosh has changed many things, the creative process is more simple, more direct, quicker of course. Of course it has its traps because it makes everything uniform.
What advice would you give to aspiring art makers?
To be passionate, curious, to explore, to be patient.
How much of your work is influenced by the past?
I want to be influenced by the past! I’ve always studied the masters of the past. If you don’t know them, your work may be superficial. The more rooted, the better, the further you can go creatively.
What influenced your style… How did it come about? How did you know when it was right?
I loved American graphic design from the 50’s to the 70’s, Paul Rand, Saul Bass, George Lois. It’s like good design: form and function are working together, it’s well balanced.
What have been your most rewarding achievements?
An ad campaign like Lane Crawford in Hong Kong with Big Active, my comic book I wrote a few years ago about a family tree, the “Food Chain” show in Eindhoven.
Do you feel like a citizen of the world in terms of your trade, or are there geographic anchors to your work as an illustrator?
Definitely I feel like a citizen of the world, I like the idea of creating artworks and characters that can be seen everywhere. At the same time, I feel deeply rooted in the French culture. I still don’t know what “being French” really means, I would say a mix of classical way of composing an image plus an anarchic way of destroying it!
We’re delighted you'll be participating in the Then x Ten Herman Miller exhibition. How do you feel about being chosen?
I feel extremely honoured, because I’m fond of the Herman Miller design pieces that are so iconic, part of the design history, masterpieces of the 20th century. It’s really about following a tradition and trying to add my small contribution, it’s fantastic.
Can you share with us some early ideas of what you will be working on to create your poster for Herman Miller?
First I prefer to choose quite a recent piece of design, the Setu chair that I would qualify some kind of ”organic technology”. I made some “serious” drafts, because I was impressed. After a few days, I realised the danger with being serious is to become boring. So I’ve incorporated one of my characters to interact with the actual chair. I’ve been very focused on the drawing, spending a lot of time with the shapes, curves. I’m super proud of the final result.
Posted by Lauren Evans