Instagram: @helsinkimonamour Pinterest: @helsinkimonamour Etsy: helsinkimonamour.etsy.com Website: www.myriamvanneste.com
1. What's your story? Where are you from?I am an artist and illustrator from Quebec City, Canada. I was trained as a sculptor in Montreal, Canada, then in environmental art in Helsinki, Finland. In my twenties I was mostly interested in creating large sculptures in public spaces.Then, three years ago, I moved to central California with my husband and newborn. There, I found that I did not have the space, opportunity or time (!) to work on large sculptural projects anymore: and so, I started to experiment with collage as a creative outlet. This was so playful! Working with paper and scissors gave me so much joy (and no stress!) so I embraced it! Now back in Canada, I am still at it, making illustration and surface pattern design, and loving it. And truth be told, I think this new creative path fits best with my introverted nature.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.My time in Finland has definitely shaped my illustration work. After all, my online illustration shop is called ‘Helsinki mon amour’ (Helsinki, my love)! I love to work with bold colors and clean graphic ‘cut and paste’ shapes, and want everything I make to have a joyful feel to it.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?Collage with paper and scissors! Even though my illustrations are made digitally, the first part of the process is always a paper cut collage. I think it’s because I used to work with my hands all the time as a sculptor: I need to make everything first!
4. What is your artistic process like?Very intuitive and playful. I most often have a color palette in mind, but not a composition. I will be cutting shapes and playing with them until something comes to life. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes and sometimes hours! The morning is definitely my best time to create.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?At the moment: children books! I love to collect them, as they are such an amazing source of inspiration. (Do you know Marianne Dubuc, an illustrator from Montreal? She makes the most beautiful and enchanting children’s book. Look her up!). I would also love to make one of those books one day.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?It’s definitely something I need in my life, meaning that it keeps me balanced. Having alone time where I can sit and make stuff is crucial: it’s like meditation to me. This past winter, when work and family life was making me anxious, I would wake up at 5 in the morning to have undisturbed quiet time to make some collages: it was the best!
7. Where did you study?I majored in sculpture at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, then obtained a master's degree in Environmental Art at Aalto University School of Art, design and Architecture in Helsinki, Finland.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?I would love to be collaborating with more designers and brands, from around the world. In five months, I am moving to Vienna, Autria, and cannot wait to see what this big change will bring into my creative life.
9. What about in ten?That’s a long way ahead, and I do not like to think so far into the future! But I would love to have my own studio by then, outside of my home, and to be able to fully support myself and my family from my art work.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?That’s a big question. When I was working on big public art projects it made me so stressed out and anxious, and now that I have moved to illustration and surface pattern design, I feel so happy and relaxed. So what I want at this point is pretty simple: to create something that makes me happy and content and hopefully makes others happy as well.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?I love so many types of food. But I think my favorite food is bread, no kidding. I LOVE great bread. My husband and I started making our own sourdough bread this year and now it’s our daily ritual: I love it.
12. Favourite book?I have two: Mémoires d’Hadrien by Marguerite Yourcenar and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I also love graphic novels: everything from the Scott Pilgrim series to Guy Delisle’s books and beyond!
13. Favourite genre of music?I don’t have a favourite, actually. I love a bunch of stuff!
14. What are your hobbies?Cooking and baking.
15. If you weren't an artist, what would you be?If the working schedule wasn’t be so crazy, I would love to be a baker. I would open a small bakery, and make great bread and pies.