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Isabelle
Feliu
Canada
based in Oslo . Norway
27 years . illustrator

I was born and raised in Québec City, Canada. Having a Honduran mother and parents who just loved to travel in general, I had the chance to discover different countries and cultures at a young age, which has always inspired me a lot. I was always passionate about fashion, and studied fashion design and merchandising in university in Montréal. I have always known I wanted to work with something related to fashion and aesthetics, but I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do. It is only when I moved to Norway a few years ago that I realized that I wanted to work as an illustrator.

Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
// Which media do you use to express yourself?

I mostly paint with watercolors, but I also like using gouache and ink.

Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
// What is your biggest motivation to create? What inspires you?

I am very inspired by travels and different cultures. I love to discover different traditional clothing, and see how people live in their country. I also get inspiration from small details of everyday life, whether it is reading a book, picking fruits, etc. I love to include fashion in my illustrations and discover new brands that can inspire me.

I think that living all my life in cold countries has made me obsessed with topical nature – I find myself daydreaming about tropical landscape and beaches a lot and I think it definitely shows in my illustrations.

// What is your creative process like?

Usually, I look for pictures that inspire me online. I try to find clothes that I would like to include, objects, foods, etc. I use Pinterest a lot to catalog different inspiring images. I then start sketching the different elements that I want to include in my illustration and finally trace them on watercolor paper and paint them.

Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
// What do you do in your daily routine to help maintain creativity?

For me creativity really comes by working and focusing the most I can. If I feel uninspired, I just start looking at images and sketching until something comes out of it. I think that being an observer in everyday life helps too, to just always be on the lookout for inspiration no matter what you are doing.

// What are your favorite works or projects that you have done? What was the motive?

I really loved working on a project for Puma Woman for International Women's Day. The idea was to create a series of images for their Social Media and I just illustrated different groups of women hanging out in a park. I just wanted to celebrate women, their friendships and their everyday life.

I also recently made a project for Wrap Magazine which was very fun! We created a series of cards with tropical vibes, showing women enjoying summer days and also animals. I think the project was very representative of my aesthetic.

Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
// Have you had a decisive moment in your career? How did this influence your trajectory?

Moving to Oslo really changed everything for me. Without speaking the language and with no contacts, finding a job in my field of studies was nearly impossible. Even though it wasn’t always easy to be unemployed, I realized that I didn’t mind so much; I had had jobs before and even though I learned a great deal from them, I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I really wanted to do something that would be mine and that I would be passionate about. I had a lot of free time at that moment of my life – more than I ever had, and I just started naturally working on what I loved.

Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
// Who are your influences, inspirations, or preferred artists? How do they reflect in your own work?

I am definitely very influenced by artists like Matisse, Gauguin and Frida Kahlo. I think Matisse’s influence definitely shows in my aesthetic. I just feel very inspired by his dreamy universe, his lines and his women.

Many contemporary fashion illustrators like Blair Breitenstein and Meagan Morrison also inspired me and gave me courage to start showing my work on Instagram. They made me realize that illustrations in the fashion field were totally relevant and that it was possible to get noticed for it with a lot of passion and work.

I am also obsessed with the work of Karl-Joel Larsson, Angela Mckay and Karolina Pawelczyck. Their respective styles are very inspiring.

Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
// Do you think there still exists a bias in relation to women's free expression? Do you feel this in your work?

Progress has been made and I am very positive about it. I think my generation and the upcoming ones are lucky; This is a good time to be a woman – or at least a better one. Of course, I realize that I am part of the lucky ones and that so many girls and women around the world do not have that chance. There is definitely still a lot of work to be done.

Since I have started working as an illustrator, I have never had any bad experiences. I was lucky enough to only work with awesome and respectful people.

In past jobs, I have come across my share of condescending people and I have felt like my ideas weren’t really considered in some cases, but I was never sure if it was because I was a woman, because I looked young or because I was just shy and a bit of an introvert. Of course, being a middle aged man would definitely have been easier in some situations.

// What makes you happy?

Being with the people I love, travelling and feeling like I am on adventures, painting obviously, tropical temperature, beautiful clothes… Going to the restaurant!

// What tips could you give to other women to help them bring their creations into reality?

I think that there isn’t any special trick and that working hard is the key, but that isn’t really hard for creative people who really are passionate about their craft, because they end-up working all the time without really noticing. Another thing that is important – or at least helped me a lot - was to do things my way and not try to follow the path of other people, or to listen to advices so much. Do what feels right for you. People sometimes ask me what school I have been to, my previous experiences, etc. and I think that these informations are irrelevant to the career path I have taken. I think that if you want to be in a creative field and specially work as a freelancer you really need to step out of this mentality.

Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
Isabelle Feliu por Projeto Curadoria
// Do you have a new project in the works?

I am currently working on some pieces for Hotel Manapany, which is going to open next December, in Saint-Barth. The idea is to create some illustrations every month until the opening. The illustrations are used for story telling on social media, to just give a taste of what everyday life on vacations will be like at the hotel. It is a fun project because Saint-Barth and the hotel are very inspiring to me, and I am also quite free to create.

Photos by Emma Sukalic for Society6

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