I usually wake up around 7.30 am, shower, get dressed and have a good breakfast (coffee and baguette, pardon my French). Then my routine depends a lot on the type of client I'm working with at the moment. Sometimes, I work for design studios or companies that require to go on-site. But when it's not the case, I work from home.
Turn on my laptop, answer some e-mails, catch up with social media, make another coffee and start creative work around 10 am.
Tell us about how you became the woman you are today. Where did you grow up? What moments in life have influenced your character most?
I like to think I'm a curious person always excited to learn and discover new things. I was born in France and spent most of my childhood in the western region called Brittany, known for its rainy weather and bond with the sea. At some point, my parents decided we were lacking adventure. So they sold everything, bought a small sailing boat and here I was, 14 years old me living the nomadic life and sailing all around Atlantic ocean with my family for a whole year. I guess this is where my wanderlust and taste for independence come from. Because today, freedom is one of the sides I love the most about being a creative freelancer (and probably what led me to this path).
Studies and work led me to move to many places including Falmouth, Montreal, Paris, New York, and more recently Amsterdam. And I just can't wait to see where the next opportunity will lead me.
Tell us a little bit about what drew you to your medium. Did you choose to work with this medium or did it choose you?
Right now, I mostly use digital tools (my laptop and Adobe suite, or an Ipad pro). I use to draw a lot with pencils, watercolor or gouache but eventually ended up mainly doing digital art, mostly for practical reasons.
First, it's more convenient when you travel a lot; you don't need to worry about bringing your whole color pencil collection, a scanner or stuff to storage the final pieces. Second, when working for clients, I simply find it easier to deal with adjustment/modification requests. Sometimes I do miss the texture and feel of traditional tools though. So I try to add a bit of these texture in my digital pieces.
What do you want the younger female artists coming up behind you to know about you, your journey, and the art industry in general?
I feel like right now, there is an incredible sorority feeling among women artists, from all around the world, and I think it's amazing. Girls support girls I've experienced this through school and social media, and I know for a fact that this helped me a lot in my creative journey. So go, connect, put yourself out there and engage as much as you can with your fellow artists! Media such as Instagram are powerful tools for this as well as getting your work accessible to potential clients.
But be also aware that not everyone is in the same mood and sometimes, specifically because social media is a big deal to reach clients, competition feeling can show up. That's why surrounding yourself with supportive arty friends is so important.
How do you define your creative gig? Full-time career or side hustle? Explain why you’ve chosen one over the other.
I'm an independent graphic designer + illustrator. And even though right now I still put a mental separation between these two sides of my creative activities, I see them as two different ways to build up a visual story.
Whether I'm designing a brand identity or illustrating an article for a magazine, basically my job is to create images that will tell something meaningful. So perhaps "visual story-teller" would be a more suitable description?
Design and illustration is my full-time career, simply because if I'm gonna have to spend the vast majority of my life working, I might as well spend it doing a fun, fulfilling job. And so far I've been incredibly lucky enough to be able to pay the bills with it, without the need of an additional side-job.
How do you stay motivated?
Ah, the big question! To be honest, you don't really have the luxury to wait for motivation to come when you have a full-time creative job. You just have to keep creating to pay the bills. That being said, when creating really starts feeling like chores, it's important to listen to yourself. Keeping personal projects aside from the client's work is super helpful in order to stay creative, try new things, fail, start again... and avoid the burn out (I learned that the hard way this summer haha).
Sharing with my other creative friends has proven very efficient as well. Hearing about their project is so inspiring and makes me want to try many things myself. And when nothing works, take a break with your creative practice, spend time with your friend's family, go for holidays if you can, try something really new and completely different (What about this salsa course you wanted to take?). Creativity is a lot about mental space and sometimes you just need to press the restart button.
What’s the most difficult financial hurdle you’ve had to overcome while running your business? Get specific!
I'd say getting paid on time. Fortunately, I've never had huge late payment issues so far, but this is still very annoying when some clients take months to pay an invoice and you have to send many follow-up emails. This is time and energy-consuming, not to mention damaging for your financial situation.
What specifically gives you the most anxiety when it comes to talking about money? Explain.
Quotes. Like many other creatives, I have big impostor syndrome and I still have a hard time giving proper value to my work. Or telling the clients what he's asking exceeds the initial agreement and that he's gonna have to pay me more. I hate it and I would gladly avoid it if it was a possibility. Over time, it gets more and more natural to estimate this value and ask for it. But I still have this little stress in the background when it comes to talking about rates every time a new project shows up.
Finish this sentence. I never leave home without my…
keys, phone, sunglasses, hypersensitivity.
Name 3 of your guilty pleasures.
I like cheese and iced tea way too much. And this chocolate paste called Nutabreizh we can find in my homeland (yes we have our own Nutella in Brittany). I just realized all my "guilty pleasures" are about food and I'm not sure what it says about me...
If you had to give a 30 min. speech without preparing to an audience of 1,000 what would it be on?
Sometimes, not choosing (or choosing everything) is the best choice you can do.
To learn more about Clémence Gouy, please visit linktr.ee/clemence_gouy