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Designer of the Month: Mélanie Johnsson

Question 1. When did you start doing design professionally?

"I’ve always been into art and design, both of my parents were designers, my grandfather was a designer and photographer too, so I’ve always been surrounded by creative people. After graduating from art school in Paris, I started doing some freelance work when I was still in my early twenties. I also traveled a lot back then while doing creative work on the side. I moved to London in 2015 because I knew it was the best place to properly start my design career, meet awesome people from various background and experience a lot of exciting things. I got a job as a graphic designer at a luxury travel company there and stayed in that job for a year before deciding to go freelance again. I have been freelancing full time for four years now! It’s been amazing."

Question 2. How did you get into painting/ creating?

"When I was younger, I never thought I could actually make a living being an Illustrator. I knew being a graphic designer could work, so that’s what I studied because it was important for me to earn a living doing something I loved no matter what. The thing is, I’ve always loved drawing, painting and creating images so I never stopped illustrating on the side of my various graphic design jobs. So very gradually, and because I was sharing my illustrations and lettering online, I started getting more comfortable with my style and people started hiring me to do illustrations for them! It was amazing. It all worked out very organically. I’m still learning and my style is always evolving."

Question 3. How would you describe your aesthetic?

"I was thinking about that recently and I would say….Fun, colorful and bold. To me, my aesthetic is how I want people to feel when they look at my work. I want it to bring a feeling of joy. I also like the idea of saying more with less and trying to keep my illustrations relatively simple. What’s also quite fun is that my style is always evolving, changing along with my interests and my loves."

Question 4. What do you love most about entering creative flow?

"It’s mainly about the joy I get from entering the creative flow. It’s my favorite state to be in. Drawing, painting, being really focused on something. It’s my own kind of meditation and my favorite part of the job. I also love that you have to welcome it, you can’t force it. When it comes, it takes you and everything feels so natural. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it happens, I try to make the most of it!"

Question 5. How do you find creative inspiration?

"It’s always tricky when you get asked where you find inspiration… because it’s not just about finding it, it’s about making it a daily practice to get inspired by everything around you. I get inspiration from books, films, podcasts, everyday life. It’s about taking everything in and using it when the time is right. I think a lot of it also comes from life experiences. I spend a lot of time in the water, surfing and kitesurfing, and that inspires me a lot. The sea, the colors, the smells, everything about our planet is inspiring."

Question 6. For other artists out there, that may struggle finding creative flow and inspiration, what advice would you share with them?

"The first thing I would say it that you have to embrace the fact that you’re not always going to be in the flow. Don’t freak out on the days you don’t feel inspired, you haven’t “lost” it. Creativity comes and goes, and you need to welcome it when it’s ready to come to you. I used to freak out a lot when I wasn’t producing any good at all, but then I realized I needed to relax and let it come. I think a lot of people give up on making things because they think nothing good is going to come out of just making. But making is the most important part! Never stop making, however good or bad you think it is. And if today isn’t your day, listen to yourself, get outdoors, go for a long walk. We can’t always be producing amazing stuff. Embrace the lows as much as the highs and take care of your precious mind."

Question 7. I noticed you’re very conscious about the environment. What contributes to that?

"I’ve always loved the planet and I’ve always been loved the oceans. I spend so much time in the water, it’s a been insane! Very recently, I’d say about a year and a half ago, I realized I could actually make a change through my work and make sure my values were reflected in it. I had never thought that I could mix my work with my love for nature. I’m happy I’m at a point in my career now where I can say no to people that don’t care about protecting the planet in some way, and focus on working with people that care. For instance, I love that Givingli is all digital. That’s very good for the planet to not be using more paper. Although some companies still do traditional greeting cards and plant a lot of trees to make sure it’s still sustainable! A lot of things can be done. I also think that in creative jobs, we’ve got the power to impact people through our art that’s why I’m trying to use my creative skills to help. I created a little mantra for myself that I think reflects my values well… It is: Protect our planet and its oceans, nurture and preserve your mental health, spread as much joy as you can."

Question 8. You are also not afraid to shine light on mental health and self-care. What is your purpose behind this?

"We’re all on this journey of understanding our own minds and very early on I thought it was important for me to share what I’m going through because a lot of us are actually going through the same things. We’re not as crazy or weird as we think we are. I think it’s important to talk about mental health issues more because it helps people feel less lonely. I don’t think I share enough online about this, and it’s really something I want to share more about in the future."

Question 9. As one of the first artists on Givingli, what stood out to you and why did you decide to work with us?

"I felt good about Givingli straight away. It’s so important for me to work with people that are great at what they do but also kind and respectful of everyone else. I always love when people start new ventures and I love supporting and helping out however I can. I liked the fun digital aspect of Givingli, it felt different and new to me. I’ve loved working with you Nicole on these greeting cards, you always make me try new things and explore different avenues. I’ve also loved developing a real relationship and getting to a point where we know more about each other. It’s important for me to create a lovely working relationship."

Question 10. You recently spent 6 months in Cape Town, South Africa – Can you share with us some of your favorite and most memorable experiences?

"This trip to South Africa was such an amazing experience. It was crazy and life changing in so many ways. Everyday felt like a new adventure. I spent most of my 6 months there in the water, either surfing or kite surfing, and it was wonderful. My favorite part was when we got invited to stay on a houseboat about an hour outside of Cape Town. It was only four of us in the middle of nowhere on this lagoon, and we got to wakeboard until nightfall. We were slightly tipsy, having fun in the water with only the moon, the stars and the shape of the mountains…It was amazing and an experience I’ll never forget."


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