It’s funny you called it « morning routine » and not working routine... it does make a lot of sense, at least to me! I chose to work from home. One of the reasons is that I’m firmly convinced that I was losing time and energy working for an agency 9 to 5. I’m a creative, and creativity comes and goes. Also, I don’t like to ask for permission. So I wanna work from where I want when I want to.
But I figured out that even in these conditions I need a little routine. More like a starting ritual, something I can take with me wherever I go, whatever time I start... So, eventually, a morning routine is pretty much the only routine I have.
7 am: Truth is I often wake up around this time from the sun so I start with a nice stretching and yoga practice, meditate or breathe for a moment, have a nice homemade smoothie, then go for a run is what I would like to answer. But I always go to bed late, and I need at least my 8 hours so I go back to sleep.
8:30 am: Slowly waking up I guess but probably staying in bed.
9 am: Awake. I usually stay in bed for a moment -yes some more- don’t judge me! :). I used to spend this time to check my social media in bed, but I’m trying to change that. And instead of looking at my phone is «the first thing I do in the morning », I traded it for 10 min of breathing exercises (honestly this time). Or just a moment for myself. It soothes and grounds me and helps me take time to build an intention for the day. That is a very new addition in my life, but so far I love it, cause it helps me a lot, by being more in the now and therefore less anxious. So obviously I waste less energy and time in vain and I have more to do what I like, amazing right? Not kidding though, and if it seems obvious to you, lucky you! It took me 29 years and some advice from good friends to realize this.
9:30 am: Getting up, taking a shower, getting dressed and ready. I work from home, but I need my little routine to feel like the day started. So shower, lotion, face wash, hydrating, teeth brushing, mascara, clothes! And then a juice!
10 am: When I’m staying home, I usually start my day with a bit of cleaning, I feel more efficient in a clean and tidy space. I’m setting a good working environment!
10:30 am: This is approximatively the time I start working. I recently decided to take the computer work out of my apartment. So whenever I have admin work, or graphic design commissioned projects, I go to a café for a few hours and do all that there between 10:30 and let’s say three/four-ish, depending on the amount of computer work. The good thing is I have a few freelancer friends and we all work there, so it’s usually a big, smoothie/breakfast/working/chatting turnover of people and even though I really love to work from home that new little rhythm feels nice.
I usually start with media, emails, and administrative bullshit - you feel the love I have for it? Then, I work on commissioned projects & the day gets better. After this, I go home (or sometimes meet my partner somewhere) to have a snack/lunch - and then the fun starts! - I work on art orders for clients or personal projects! Whouhou best part of the day!
I also keep that order during the week, start my week with everything that is administration and commissioned projects, and as the week goes, make more and more room for my personal projects and practice. So obviously there are many weeks where I sacrifice a lot of my personal project time for clients, but I’m terrible with multi-tasking and this way I get less stressed. Let’s hope I can make more and more time for my personal projects in the future since this is for sure what I’m trying to build.
To be completely honest though, I call this my « basic routine », it's the way I can organize my mornings pretty much everywhere I go, but things are still evolving a lot for me and I feel like I’m still searching for my balance. With the spring coming, I really want to wake a bit earlier, take more of that moment for myself by myself and start working a bit earlier so I can also do other stuff during my day. I’m also applying for my very first very own studio right now, and I’m very curious how that’s gonna change my routine, adding another place, a commute (I’ll have to take the ferry every day!!!!), other artists around me... I can’t wait to develop a new routine around this!
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?
My name is Clotilde I grew up in Saint Etienne, a small city close to Lyon in France. I loved growing up there, it was small enough to get independent quite fast, but big enough to have access to culture, activities, etc...
I‘ve been an only child for 7 years, but I don’t remember ever being bored. I was always busy reading, making stuff, inventing recipes (leftovers of meals in restaurants where my heaven; « a drop of coffee, one spoon of mustard, a little bit of sugar, ketchup, stir well, then try to convince someone to try it!), drawing, making houses for my dolls/playmobile, then for my sims (I never really played sims, but I’ve built and decorated a crazy amount of houses).
My parents both come from modest families and definitely tried to give us a more open and broad view of the world than what they could get during their childhood. They had us try things, sports, activities, holiday camps, Going to museums, walking in nature... I followed a school curriculum that allowed me to spend a day and a half at the music school every week from 6 to 16 yo. I remember painting with my dad. I was dancing a lot from an early age (and it didn’t start well lol) and I was often going to some dance and theatre presentations with my mom... They played a big part in opening my curiosity. But I think that in their mind, all these exciting activities were for hobbies, and leisure time. This was not really something you build your life around. Not in a professional way.
I guess like most parents they were also guiding us to a « safe life », where you work well in school, get a nice job, make good money and have time to do what you like on the side... So kinda unconsciously, I followed a pretty conventional path - while trying to pull and bring it towards what I liked. I definitely was the funny kid in our circle but still doing it « right ». I joined a dance company on my free time, then got into a design school (design school is the art school that gives you a real job right?), and I decided to be a freelancer right away... little moves towards what I loved, in a safe way, always... But I guess it wasn’t enough!
As long as I can remember I’ve always been looking for more, different lifestyles, countries, people out of the system... traveling to see how life is in other places... I had the urge to go further literally as much as figuratively.
Around 25 years old, when I finished my studies and got into « real life », things got hard... Now, taking a step back and looking at this period of my life, I think it was just me not fitting in the life I was building for myself... I think I was scared for a long time to act for what I wanted cause it felt sooooo far from the “model” I grew up learning, and I still had in mind that art is not a safe path... But a calling is a calling right?! This was the beginning of one of the most difficult parts of my life but it also definitely got me growing and blooming - with a lot of anxiety, work, tears and time, and I’m still not done!
Opening the way to myself, starting to look for people like me / or just different from what I knew so far...to surround myself, for places where I felt like I could be who I want, building my very own life and person. Moving here to Amsterdam was definitely a turning point in this “research” for myself. And I feel like I’m still in that process of making myself, but I guess it’s an everyday job from the moment you realize you can be whoever you want... and now, it got more exciting than scary!
Tell us about the exact moment or period in time when you realized you were born to create.
I’ve always been creative, I’ve always been making art, but as I said, for a very very long time, from my perspective, art was something you can only have as a hobby, not something you could make a living out of... So I would say it’s been a journey of little awakening moments... And the more time passed, the more I learned about myself. The first « big » moment, was after graduating in fashion design I had kind of a freak out after a very complicated year (let's call my supervising teacher a crazy evil b***** and at that time I definitely didn’t have the tools to deal with that), so I took a sabbatical year and went to work in England. After I came back I considered going to study at the osteopath school. But after a couple of weeks hesitating between getting back to design and starting osteopathy, I realized I needed to create every day of my life, not just on weekends, or evenings or afternoons after « work ». And it is at that time that I took a look back at my life and realize I was always making art « dancing from the age of 3, painting with my dad, being into reading very early, going to music school for 10 years, joining a semi-pro dance company, fighting very hard with my parents to go for an art degree instead of a medical or law one... », it was never just a hobby, I needed that. Even when I was a kid and I was saying that I wanted to be a doctor I was imagining myself decorating the office, choosing art for my waiting room, more than curing anyone hahaha... Maybe I was thinking already that art was the remedy! I’m now accepting that this is who I am and acting to make it happen. These last months of introducing myself as an « artist » and clearing time for this practice have been amazing, I feel happier than ever... But it took me a very long time to accept that even though it might not be the « safest » path, it is « possible » even for me. I like the design part of my activity, I really do, but I’m genuinely happy when I create art. Somehow even if now I wouldn’t completely give up on design, I think it was my way to enter safely the « real art life ».
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?
I’m not sure I can say I have one medium, or I would call it « visual ». I consider myself a visual artist and that goes for me from drawing to dancing, passing by photography, collage, painting, I even consider my work as a graphic designer part of that practice, so yeah pretty much anything you can see.
For now, I’m working a lot with paper collages, but I think my practice is more about setting an alphabet or a visual vocabulary and composing mood and setting atmospheres, telling stories with it, whatever the medium is. This is what I love, this is what I like when I do graphic design (leaflet, brochure....), this is what I like when I dance, and this is 100% what I like to do with my art.
I started with paper cause I like fast and clean results, once you find the right tools, the paper is the dream medium for this. I also really like the process that comes with it, drawing the shapes, choosing colors, preparing all the shapes and then composing with them, Before fixing what I like forever. And then, looking for a new way, with the same shapes, and another way. Challenging my mind to always come up with new combinations... I’m very happy with the way I started with the Beans collages, I love playing with that alphabet, and now I’m really excited with the idea of trying out new media and technics with these shapes, to make the project grow and to keep the inspiration coming. With this vocabulary (the beans) that I love, a big part of my process is to experiment with different mediums and techniques. I started to play with painting and printing them, changing sizes and scales, I wanna try clay, laser cutting, making 3D beans.
A lot of women believe they need formal training in order to succeed as a Female Artist. What’s your take? Did you have formal education or are you self taught?
I went to design school. The truth is you don’t replace art history, it is a huge background of references, that you get from art school. You also learn to think, how to question everything, even rules How, why, for what purpose, why, with what intention, why, what message, why? why? why? you learn how to look at things with new perspectives, look further than what you actually see, you learn how to talk about your art (even though I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of school bulls*****g that I don’t do anymore in my practice), somehow you open a door on the field... But it definitely takes more than school... It takes practice, and mistakes, and doing stuff cause you like them and realizing they are empty of any purpose or sense, it takes trying and finding your medium, it definitely takes finding yourself... and this is not something you get from school. I’m sure I built my love for composition and colors in design school, but I definitely found my way out of school and « graduation pressure » when I could just make freely.
My favorite kind of art is « art brut » and this is not for no reason... art is about showing others what’s inside you. This can happen with 0 references or education art history proved it already. I guess the rest comes with passion, if you’re really into something you get curious about it, therefore you learn about it, you practice and get better at it!
What do you want the younger female artists coming up behind you to know about you, your journey, and the art industry in general?
Well, I’m not sure it’s just for the artists, but it definitely feels like somethings girls are not being told enough (since we’re mostly told what to do, how to be how to look like...) « finding people you feel comfortable with is one of the best things you can do for yourself and therefore for your art ». This way you just have to be you and do what you like. It might be obvious but it wasn’t for me until I met these people. When you find them, there is no pretending, no proving, you just be you and do what you do the best, even if these people don’t do the same thing than you do, they will just let you be « you ».
Let's talk about vulnerability. What role has being vulnerable played in your work, success or failures?
Oh, I’m definitely not the right person to answer this question. I’m currently investing the idea of letting things go (29 years, but they say it’s never too late for a change). I’m kind of a control freak and rejection has always been one of my biggest fear. But the more successful and happy people I meet the more I realize that none of them is fighting, they all « go with the flow », don’t take me wrong, they’re not waiting for things to happen, but they are just them, being themselves, doing what they truly think they should be doing, putting themselves out in the world, not clinging to something or crawling against the flow to be sure they end up in a specific place, just acting and trusting the process,... so I’m trying this myself. I started introducing myself as an artist and showing my work, doing more, trying more, failing more (lol) and guess what, reactions are most of the time positive! I think letting yourself being vulnerable is one of the hardest things you can do in any field of your life, but I also think, it’s one of the most rewarding ones.
What is the message you're sending into the universe with your work? Why do you feel so strongly about this message?
Probably what comes out of all my practices, would be « looking at things from a different perspective», changing your point of view on things, situations, life and what surrounds you. If I find all these new ways to communicate and develop all these vocabularies, it’s definitely cause I feel more comfortable communicating with art than communicating with words, but I guess it is also an invitation to take a new look at things. Can I call myself a perspective maker? (the funny story is I can’t deal with real geometric perspective). But yeah I’m a firm believer that there are many perspectives to see in every single thing and many different ways to see the same things.
With my Beans for example, even though I give my interpretation on something and like to give the collections a name, I’m very happy that everyone can make their own story in their mind when they look at them.
Also when I play with my shapes or palettes, I dive into something, it’s my safe place and moment. When I do that there is nothing else than the game of puzzling, composing, losing myself in an atmosphere I create... I play with my imagination and for a moment there is nothing else.. and I really hope I can get people who look at my pieces, into this kind of moment, living reality for a moment, staring at these abstract figures and wander in their mind.
Finally, art is for me a way to embrace or go through (my) emotions, everyone will react differently to a piece of art, with its own background and perspective but I feel like a piece of art should always bring emotions, and this is why I’m trying to do with my own language.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a female artist?
Since Miki Lowe and Lucy Giller said exactly what I would have responded to this question. I’ll just add two links to their interviews and what could have been my answers to this question through their words. I couldn’t say it better or give better advice. Both their answers really resonate with me. « I lacked confidence in my work when I started out. I don’t think it’s uncommon amongst creatives, or that it’s a female issue though. It’s a scary and competitive world. Mostly by fear of losing work, I would not be assertive enough with clients, whether about pricing, creative content or workload. It also made me accept commissions that were not necessarily a good fit and that ended full of frustration, as I was forcing something unauthentic out of my hand in an unnatural way, making work that wasn't coherent with my identity. That bothered me. It’s with time and experiences, that I learned to value my work better and begin to be comfortable about turning down things if they weren’t right. »
My favorite advice from Hola Gwapa Artist Miki Lowe is "I think imposter syndrome is something that can hold lots of women back. I know that I have missed opportunities because I thought, "I'm not good enough yet, I'm not ready". Learning to quiet those voices is something that I'm still working on but I'm getting so much better at saying "you got this!". Conquering self-doubt can be so tricky, but learning to talk to yourself like you would talk to your friend is so helpful."
And my favorite advice from Hola Gwapa Artist Lucy Giller is "There are still times I'm afraid about the future or unsure about how to start a project. Or scared to disappoint a client but the more you learn about yourself, what you want, where you see yourself and the more you are fine with yourself the more you will externalize it."
How do you stay motivated?
In general, I feel I’m lucky, creativity generates motivation in my brain, I have ideas and I wanna try them... I wanna see how it would look... I want results. If creativity hides a bit, I just look at more art, I mean you have Pinterest, doesn’t it give you 100000 ideas all the time? or I just try something I usually do, on new support, in a new size, with a new tool... But that’s creativity... Motivation in the sense of making and acting is a different problem (mostly when its administration time...), they are somedays where there will be no motivation, at all, and it’s ok. Even though it’s sometimes hard not to be « productive enough », I learned to embrace these days as well, in that case, I just do something else, or take a moment/day off, and do other stuff, to take a fresh start the day after. This is why It’s so cool to be a freelancer!
What is your biggest focus and/or goal in your career right now? What plans do you have for yourself 1,3,5 years from now?
I’m not good at planning far, (truth is I won’t even tell you if I can come somewhere for sure unless it’s happening the day after...) But I definitely have goals, In the short term, I would like to reduce my work as a designer, keep like one nice project every month... like a small (small) part-time to have more free time for my art practice.
This year, is the year where things get real and serious! I wanna keep experimenting with my collages, but I also want to change media and explore more, I want to try the mural experience (and do more if I like it) , get my collages sold in nice places, and work with brands or artists I like on collaborative projects.
In 3 / 5 years (hopefully 3) I see myself established as an artist, my pieces are selling and exhibited. I have projects in different countries. I live from my art projects and I take graphic design projects because they are super exciting only!
Man, just writing all this feels amazing already!
Last time I was having this conversation with my partner, he says I was capable to save 300K out of my art in the next 8 years, I really hope he is right! So... let’s make it a goal!
How do you define your creative gig? Full-time career or side hustle? Explain why you’ve chosen one over the other.
I was always encouraged to pursue a career that would be safe (doctor, lawyer...) but I’m a creative and I couldn’t keep this just as a hobby. Design seemed to be the good and safe entrance door, you know to be creative but have a « real » job so I started like this. I went pretty much right away for the full time freelancing though. Being « safe », okay, but under my own rules. I like the freedom of choosing when and where I work, give myself breaks whenever I feel like it and choose my own projects. It hasn't always been easy but it’s all a question of priorities. Some people need the security or the social life of an agency, some people are okay to sacrifice financial comfort for freedom, it’s all about what you want and what you’re willing to sacrifice. Choices.
At the moment, I‘d say my time is equally divided between my design practice and my art, but it’s definitely still the design that brings me money... I am still at the very beginning of my art journey. This year I reduced my hours so I have more free time to develop my art practice...but financially I still have a long way to go... Gratefully I have the most amazing life partner, who allows me to pursue my dream without worrying all the time about money... (even though I do anyway cause I really wanna be a strong independent badass woman!)
My end goal is to be a full time artist (and obviously to make a decent living out of it) and to keep some very cool design projects on the side.
Big or small, what’s the single best money making tip or piece of advice you can share with up and coming artists?
« Charge what will make you feel compensated. », I’m getting way better at this one cause I’m done with being frustrated, but I guess ending up crying of frustration on some projects was the way to realize this!
But also: « no more work for free or friend prices » you usually start selling to people from your circle and it sometimes feels weird to charge these people but once you’re caught in the circle it’s hard to get out of it, and I feel like it also progressively makes you undervalue your art.
« Set yourself money goals. Every month set your target and work out how you are going to make that money. How many pieces of art do you need to make and sell to earn that money? » I’m trying this one and even if it sounds hard I think this is the most motivating method. It helps to focus on your goals and it’s less paralyzing than a complex long term business plan to start!
What specifically gives you the most anxiety when it comes to talking about money? Explain.
As a designer, I’ve been having trouble pricing my work for a long time, mostly because as I guess most beginners I was either afraid to lose the client or not to be « good enough ». I ended up very very frustrated. Many times. Until I decided that was enough. My time has value!
That is not an issue anymore for me, I’m now working on placing myself as an expert and being very clear on what I agree to do or not with (graphic design) clients. I know that the client is paying, but he also comes to you for your expertise, no one would ever say to a carpenter « yeah I get it if we build it like that the whole house is going to collapse but I like it better so let's do it anyway... well it’s the same with the design! If you’re coming to me, you need to pay for my time and to respect my work.
For now, I would say I’m more worried about how long will it take to grow my art practice and to get economically stable.
What do you know for sure?
That I need to create.
Give us three of your favorite/ most inspiring things right now. It could be a book, a food, a destination, a song, a person, etc.
Pretty much everything is a source of inspiration for me, but let's say...
1. New places and habits -I always loved getting away from my environment, discover new colors, tastes, materials, sounds, and smells, new impressions.
2. Natural light moments.
3. Definitely, other artists!
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
I’ve been told recently in my life to « claim my space », and it resonated very deep... I don’t think I’m there yet, but for sure since then I try to keep that in my mind. You’re here, you exist and just for that you have entitled some space to live, figuratively and literally as well... and that space is yours to do what you want, you don’t have to ask to invest it.
I read this one here on Hello Gwapa: « Write everything you want to achieve on a piece of paper. Keep re-writing it until it happens. » and I definitely want to try this little trick!
It’s karaoke night and you're up. What song do you sing?
Oh, Karaoke is definitely happening without me (for the sake of everyone), but if I was tied up... I found the trick I would require « tequila », it’s only one word to sing!
Finish this sentence. I never leave home without my...
camera, sometimes, it’s just my phone, but I need a device to capture stuff, either beautiful places or lights, or just stuff I wanna remember for inspiration.
Finish this sentence. I find myself most inspired to create when I am...
When traveling or living in a new place - it is my answer to finding inspiration. In a very organized and clean environment (team clean freak) - is my answer about creating things.
A genie grants you three wishes. What do you wish for?
1. Live from my art right away / or make me « rich » so I can just do my things without giving a damn. lol
2. A way to travel fast and without polluting to see the whole world
3. make kindness and respect the ultimate goals in everyone’s life!
Name 3 of your guilty pleasures.
1. Fries (but actually food)
2. Moments of light.
3. I’m looking for a third one but the more I think the more I realize I’m not feeling guilty about any of my pleasures :)) I’ll say binging, it works with shows, books, Pinterest ... When I like something I won’t stop until its finished. Oh, it actually also work with food!
Name 3 Artists you would like to see featured on Hola Gwapa next and what you love about them.
1. Christina Mastori - moving artist - because she is an amazing dancer/mover, she is a body savior (some kind of witch) and she’s one of the most freeing people I know and always makes me feel free to be me!
2. Marena skinner or Mat makes stuff, at least for the sake of being part of a community that involves them!
3. @liv.leeee because so much beauty !!!!
4. @Imakestagram, cause she reminds me all the time, that anything is possible! I mean the girl makes a living making tinsel dresses!!! How fun is this?!