“Even in the most difficult phases, at the beginning of my career, when I didn’t have enough clients or commissions to plan for the future, I knew that it was only a question of time, patience and perseverance,” says French illustrator and graphic designer Marie-Laure Cruschi. But two years ago her career turned a corner. “Luck came my way, or the planets were best aligned, or I just started to reap what I have sown, I don’t know, but I started to get a real recognition for my personal work, first national, then international.” Since then Marie-Laure has been busy working on projects for magazines, communication projects and her biggest project to date: the illustration of Taschen’s Cabins book (featured here). Marie-Laure will exhibit art prints from the book at Sergeant Paper in Paris from April 8 to 25.

Note: Marie-Laure requested to answer the questions in French, her native language. However, she has provided a translation in English, also.

Which five words best describe you?
Cérébrale, intuitive, travailleuse appliquée, persévérante, passionnée.

Cerebral, intuitive, in French travailleuse appliquée is a playful word between applied, and conscientious, persevering, passionate.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?
J’ai eu la chance de débuter ma carrière en tant que directrice artistique et graphic designer free lance pour des agences de communication essentiellement tourné vers des client luxe. Illustratrice de formation à l’école des arts décoratifs de Paris, ça a été l’opportunité pour moi d’entretenir ma curiosité bien au delà de l’illustration tout en développant des compétences transversale dans l’approche et la mise en œuvre d’un projet. J’ai alors fondé mon Studio Cruschiform, dans le but d’accueillir des collaboration avec des photographes, typographes etc… sur des projets de direction artistique. J’ai toujours été attachée au fait d’être au cœur de la création, être dans la pratique. Au fil du temps, mes clients ont commencé à faire appel a moi plus pour mon savoir faire en illustration, qui est mon territoire de prédilection. J’ai donc commencé à signer des illustrations pour la presse, tout en développant en parallèle des projets d’album illustrés pour la jeunesse, car depuis toujours, l’objet livre/editorial est mon medium préféré.

I had the chance to start my career working as a freelance art director and graphic designer for communication agencies that specialised in luxury. It was a real opportunity for me to maintain my curiosity well beyond illustration while developing cross-disciplinary competences in the approach and the way to draw a project. So I decided to create my studio Cruschiform in order to collaborate with photographers, typographers, designers, etc on art direction projects. I have always wanted to create by myself, so over time my clients started to contact me especially for my know-how in illustration, which was still my favourite area. So I started to do illustrations in various magazines, advertising campaigns, while working on personal projects, like children books.  

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
Patience et persévérance. Il faut savoir donner du temps aux choses, savoir accueuillir les moments de doute car ils peuvent être bénéfiques, mais ne jamais se laisser submerger par eux. Un bon travail murit dans le temps et non avec l’air du temps. 

Just like I told you, patience et perseverance. I learned to be able to “welcome” doubts, because it can be benefit into the process, but I try to never be overwhelmed by it. To me good work grows and matures with time, not with the times. 

What’s your proudest career achievement?
J’ai toujours souhaité pouvoir réinvestir mon intérêt pour l’ensemble des arts appliqués, qu’il s’agisse de design, de mode, ou d’architecture, dans mon travail d’illustration. Le livre Cabins de Philip Jodidio, en collaboration avec l’éditeur Taschen en est un bel exemple. (…) Même si je n’ai pas réalisé la direction artistique du livre, ce n’est qu’une commande d’illustration dans le fond, Taschen a fait appel a moi comme a il ferait appel une artiste, accordant beaucoup de respect et de confiance à mon travail. Chaque illustration était quasiment une « carte blanche ». C’est en ça très gratifiant. 

I always expected to be able to reinvest all the interest I have in arts and crafts, and especially in architecture, into my illustration work. So working on the Cabins book was a great opportunity. This book by Philip Jodidio aims to provide an overview of contemporary cabins from all around the world. For nearly five months I had the pleasure to work closely with Taschen’s art director/team on achieving more than 60 opening chapter illustrations, plans and symbols that you can find throughout the book. It was one of the largest orders of illustrations that was entrusted to me to this day. Even if it was not a personal project but a commission, I felt a great freedom working on it. Each illustration was for me a kind of carte blanche.  

What’s been your best decision?
De ne jamais abandonner.
To never give up.

Who inspires you?
Au quotidien : des jeux de lumière, des contrastes de couleur, des lignes géométriques et des rythmes graphiques dans l’architecture autant que dans la nature.  Tout est source d’inspiration, même les plus petits détails du quotidien.

Not who but what: lights, colours, contrasts, geometry, lines, graphic rhythms into architecture and nature. Paintings from the Impressionists, travel posters, screen print from the 1930s, background illustrations from Disney movies of my childhood… 

What are you passionate about?
Art, design, fashion, architecture, books, travel…

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
My grandfather.

What dream do you still want to fulfil?
When my child will be 7-8 years old I would like to buy a van and start a family road trip for a long period, drawing and sketching every day, all together. To me the destination doesn’t matter, what is important is the travel and the way it can change our relationship to the world. I’ve always been fascinated by nomadic people.   

What are you reading?
Walden (or Life in the Woods) by Thoreau. I did not get the chance to read it before working on the Cabins book.

images courtesy of marie-laure cruschi and taschen

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