March 21, 2017 - No Comments!

When I miss Paris, I miss…

As some of you may already know, I am French. I have been living in London for a bit more than two years now and I travelled around the USA and South America before that, so it has been quite a long time since I lived in the City of Lights. A lot of people ask me why I do not go back there more often, it is pretty easy to do so and part of my family and some of my friends still live there.

So why don't I visit more often?

I think it is mainly because I've started building something in London, and I feel like my life is here now, and not over there. I've been putting so much energy into growing my freelance business and developing my relationships, both personal and professional, that I haven't looked back. I've also fallen in love with London and its wonderfully crazy people. Moving to the UK has allowed me to grow so much more as a human being and designer than I could ever have dreamt of back in France (the traveling around the world may have helped too). I have evolved so much in two years that I would recommend to everyone moving to another country for a few years (or indefinitely, like I'm planning to). Stepping out of your comfort zone is the best thing you could do to live a more fulfilling life and grow into your best self (I am not saying I am my best self though, still so much work to get there).

Oops, I just got carried away about the whole moving thing and loving London. What I meant to talk about in this blog post is my love for Paris. I don't live there anymore, but oh boy, do I love to visit. There are so many fantastic things about Paris. Its culture, its heritage, its architecture, its little cafes and back alleys, its cafés! I thought I would make a little lettering project about it, and let you know some of my true Parisian loves...Hope you enjoy them next time you wander around the City of Lights!

 

 

(From top to bottom: Paris' lights, chocolate chips brioche, the Pompidou Center (museum), the Marais (neighbourhood), cafés in the sun, Montmartre, little back alleys).

January 9, 2017 - No Comments!

Sweden, you pretty thing

I just came back from my winter break in Sweden. A full week away from home and the studio, taking in the fresh air (and super fresh snow!) of beautiful Scandinavia. Much needed!

We went away for a week and decided to rent a very cool Airbnb in Stockholm to experience the most of the city and attempt to feel like real swedes (although, my Grandad was Swedish, so I guess I have it in me already!). We also hopped on trains to visit other intriguing parts of Sweden, and our favourite was Nynashamn, a lovely coastal town as the very south of Stockholm's archipelago.

It really was gorgeous and oh so perfectly quiet at this time of year. Here are some pictures...

And of course, Stockholm was magical as I expected it to be. Especially when a white blanket of snow covered the town over night...

Magical, isn't it?

November 15, 2016 - No Comments!

Podcast Frenzy

I started listening to podcast only quite recently, I would say it has maybe been two years or so. But since then, they have played a huge part in keeping me sane and inspired. And have helped me in a lot of tricky situations.

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The first podcast I ever listened to was Design Matters, run by the amazing Debbie Millman, the multi-faceted woman who loves to get to know her hosts and their little design secrets. I used to listen to her episodes when I was still working full-time as a graphic designer, and they truly made me feel good about the prospect of freelancing. They gave me hindsight into the design industry and made me believe everything was possible, and that there was no good way of reaching your top. Everyone has a different path leading to their professional and personal success, with all the necessary bumps and fails, and that's what Design Matters is all about.

Here are my favourite episodes of Design Matters:

Bob Gill

Michael Beirut

Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman 

Julia Turshen

Louise Filli

I never stopped listening (and probably never will!) to Design Matters, Debbie's voice makes me feel good, she knows her subject, does her research and always asks the right questions.

A year ago or so, I discovered Serial (a bit later than everyone else) and binge-listened to the two first seasons of the podcast. Obviously, I loved it! It's definitely a must-listen. And I still can't tell which season is my favourite...

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This plant is getting out of control!

More recently, I realised that podcasts were the perfect material to listen to whilst working. They're not perfect for any kind of work though. I know I don't want to be distracted when I need to focus. But when I draw, doodle or do something where the 'thinking part' has already been done, they are perfect. You learn, you work and you avoid stress. Multi-tasking at its best.

And then I found Stuff You Should Know. And let me tell you, I am completely obsessed. I am addicted to Josh and Chuck's chemistry, to their voices, their sense of humour and the way they explain complicated things to make them easy peasy to understand. They talk about everything and anything and always seem to find subjects that I know nothing about but always end up being really interested in. And I learn and laugh so much just listening to them! And that's the best part. Those guys will get you hooked.

Here are just a few of my favourite episodes of Stuff You Should Know, a lot of them are history-related or about murder and mysteries...that's my jam (but seriously, just go and listen to all of them):

Evan Knievel Part I and II 

Jellyfish: Even cooler than Octopi?

Mermaids: Not a real thing

The Unsolved Mystery Disappearance of the Sodder Children

How LSD works

How Freak Shows worked

Operation Mincemeat: How a corpse fooled the Nazis

How the Terracotta Army Works

The time Nazis invaded Florida

 

I also like listening to Garance Doré's podcast, Pardon My French, and occasionally to Here's the thing by Alec Baldwin and My Big Idea by Asos. Oh, and also to The Cinema Show by Monocle for all things film.

But what I really wanted to know is, do you have any favourites? Any podcast you can't live without?

melmelxx

 

November 13, 2016 - No Comments!

A Roman Holiday

I got to hop on a plane to Rome a few weeks ago, for a very short but sweet trip. It was the kind of getaway everyone needs when London is all grey and grim. Three days spent in the city of young love and old ruins. It was perfect timing for all sort of things and the temperatures were dreamy.

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We walked all around, ate a lot of pasta and drank a bit too much red wine. We had a the best time just wandering around and discovering the city. And we did feel one earthquake whilst we were there...Quite a memorable experience!

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Looking forward to more city breaks this winter! Already have my eye on Budapest, Florence and Madrid...

melmelxx

October 24, 2016 - No Comments!

Blake Woman

Blake Ldn is a wonderful british knitwear brand that recently asked me to be part of their Blake Woman family. The fabulous Thea Lovstad came to my studio on a sunny Monday morning to snap some pictures of me and the surroundings. And I even had to answer to my (almost) very first interview! You can check out the real feature here. But of course, you can check it out below...

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Tell us a bit about yourself, and your life so far…

I am Mélanie, a French graphic designer and illustrator, with some Corsican and Swedish blood (the mix definitely encourages my craziness). I was raised in the suburbs of Paris and went to art school for three years in Paris. After graduating, I travelled through South America on my own for five months, photographing every magical thing I saw and drawing a lot of exotic animals. Once back in France, I freelanced for a while for a design agency and then travelled again for a few months to the US this time, striding along the Californian coast and getting inspired by the views. But I came back to Paris craving more stimulating surroundings. So I moved to London and was lucky enough to land a graphic designer position in a great company called Black Tomato. Working there for a year gave me the confidence to finally go freelance again, here, in the UK. I have been freelancing full time for a year now and it has been one crazy ride. I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going.

 

When did your interest for drawing start?

I can’t recall ever not drawing. I’ve always loved it. And I guess my parents always made sure I had a lot of paper and pencils around me at any time so I could doodle. I think we all love drawing when we’re young, but some people give up really quickly (because they’re not happy with the results they’re getting). Drawing takes a lot of practice. So even if you don’t like what your drawing looks like, keep on drawing, forget about the result and do it for the pleasure of making something.

 

How much did growing up in Paris affect your taste for design and aesthetics?

Paris was a beautiful backdrop to grow up with, the light and the architecture there are stunning. I couldn’t really say how it affected my taste as I grew up seeing and getting inspired by things coming from all around the world. I think growing up in a really creative family had a bigger impact on my aesthetic. Both my parents are designers, my grand dad was a graphic designer and photographer, and my godmother is an architect! I was raised in a design cocoon, constantly inspired and challenged by what they were all doing and making everyday.

 

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Best advice for someone looking to do the same.

Work hard on what you love and be stubborn when it comes to your aesthetics. Work with people that care about what you do as much as they care about their own business. Forget about the rules, try to carve your own path and most importantly, do what makes you happy!

 

Who is your typical customer / client?

I don’t have a typical client. I love working with different types of people and industries. I have clients in the fashion industry, the music industry, the travel industry…But I also work with individuals on logos, letterings or other artworks. And also with some design agencies where the pace is much quicker and the projects completely different. I get bored very quickly, so I love a little bit of a challenge! And working on different projects in different fields is amazing because it allows me to express myself each time differently.

 

Was working as an illustrator like you expected?

Funnily enough, if I’m asked about my work, I will more likely say that I am a graphic designer. Graphic design is what I studied, I learned the rules and the tricks and I got taught by passionate people about typography, composition, colour…But illustration originated second. It came because I needed something more. I wanted to bring elements of handmade, elements of surprise to what I was designing. I had always liked drawing, so just after I graduated from art school in Paris, I went to Chile for five months, and just started drawing and painting again, more and more everyday. It was and still is all about practice when it comes to drawing or hand-lettering. Even today, I still don’t draw that well, I just have my own style and go with it. It’s a great means for me to express myself and I’m just so lucky I now get to draw and design for a living. So, yes, in a way, working as an illustrator was like I expected: I have to pinch myself everyday to make sure all of this is not a joke! It’s pretty awesome and I feel very grateful for all the opportunities.

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Talk us through your daily routine:

I don’t really have a routine…but I do wake up quite early every day (without an alarm, that makes me happy) around 7 in the winter and even earlier in the summer. I try to go for a small run every mornings. I just need to get out of my head a bit before getting to my desk and starting work. Running for 20 minutes is just enough for me to feel fresh and ready to start the day. Once back from the run, it usually goes in the following order: shower, clothes, breakfast…and I’m ready to take on the world! My studio is at home, so I don’t have much commute and that’s kind of awesome. I’ll usually work on different projects from 8:30 to 5:30, sometimes later…Then, I’ll just keep on working on my own projects, be a bit more chilled and will definitely not answer to any emails past that time (unless there’s something crazy urgent). At the studio, during the day, I’ll always end up spending as much time on my computer as I do addressing envelopes, doodling or painting for projects. If I have to spend a lot of time on my computer, you’ll find me listening to my favourite podcasts and learning about awesome stuff. I really don’t have a routine, but I do have my little habits!

 

Top 5 coffee table books:

I like a book with a crazy, striking, colourful cover that shouts ‘Look at me, I will inspire you in a minute!’ So on my coffee table, you’ll probably find either one of those, that I usually rotate depending on the mood…

Kenzo, by Antonio Marras

Eames, beautiful details, by Eames Demetrios

Art Nouveau Revival,  Musée d’Orsay

The Wes Anderson Collection, by Matt Zoller Seitz

Saul Bass, A life in Film and Design, by Jennifer Bass

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How would you describe your style?

Colourful is a big one. Happy, tactile and honest. Strong, striking and badass is definitely what I aim for.

With all the success so far, what is the long term goal?

Long-term goal is to keep doing what I love, refining my style whilst working with more and more passionate people. I’d like to get more fellow creatives involved to work with me on new ideas and exciting projects…I’m just so very excited about the future!

 

All photos by Thea Lovstad.

September 21, 2016 - No Comments!

New home

Thought I would share a little sneak peek of my new home...

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I just moved back to East London, in Stoke Newington to be exact, and I couldn't be happier about it! I certainly feel more at home around here, surrounded by artsy shops and cool cafés. Everything is more accessible, and having my studio here makes it easier for everything, from meeting clients and getting supplies to going out for drinks...And the flat? Well, I could not have asked for a better space for my studio. There is a lot of light and white walls, plants around the corners and so much space to breathe. Here's to a new year full of awesome projects and exciting opportunities!

melmelxx

September 2, 2016 - No Comments!

Corals, corals, corals

I drew these shells and starfishes a few days before leaving for Corsica in August, and really didn't think too much of them then. But things changed when I came back...

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I just couldn't get enough of them! I think what made me love these illustrations is that instead of having them on their own, I decided to make a pattern out of them. And the colours too! All the scuba-diving in Corsica made me fall in love again for all the hues of the sea, from a deep turquoise to a lighter, more electric blue. Add a pink background, and I'm helpless! Now wishing I was back on the island, admiring all the corals...

melmelxx

 

 

August 24, 2016 - No Comments!

Island life

Living dangerously in Corsica...and getting fresh inspiration from the amazing flora all around! Here are some shots of this crazy week, with all kind of blues. I know I can't get enough of this colour! It just makes my heart happy. Big, blue and beautiful. Scroll down to check it out...

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I have been going to the beautiful island of Corsica every single year since I was born. Yes, every single year. I used to stay two full months when I was younger (when I was young and reckless and had nothing to worry about). But now, I try to go for a week every year, at least! Yes, yes, yes, I know I am very lucky.  I love the island, and it feels like home to me. It has kept its beauty, its flora, its smell, over the years, and I can't and won't get enough of it. We're lucky to have a family home in a tiny village in the North East of the island, and coming here feels like coming back to what matters in life. The sun, the earth and the sun. Simple, but more than enough for me. The birds of prey in the sky, the boars roaming around (not too close though please), the sea urchins in the sea, praying for their lives when divers think they can do what they want...(Please, pretty please, think about preserving the oceans. No more touching everything like you own it...Starfishes, sea urchins and other marvellous creatures live better left alone).

Anyway, this year, as you guessed, I scuba-dived again, and it sparked a desire to do it more often, better, and visit amazing places all around the world. Just need to get my levels, and who knows, maybe I'll be able to dive with sharks and whales! Dreams do come true, don't they?

melmelxx

 

August 10, 2016 - No Comments!

Re-inspired

Do you ever get that feeling? That you really, REALLY, need some time off? (I'm sure you do)

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So, yes, everyone really needs time off every now and then. More now, than then, actually. Whatever you do for a living, you'll always need time to recharge your batteries and get away from your office for a while. I feel like it's a bit different in my case. Working from home means that I end up spending A LOT of time on my own, in my own thoughts, surrounded by things I either designed/painted/printed or by the things I love and keep whenever and wherever I find them (may it be a cool shop in London or a little street in Lisbon).

What I'm trying to say is that, at the end of the day, I am surrounded by the same things, and, don't get me wrong, Internet is a great source of inspiration, but it will never EVER measure up to going away and immersing oneself in something totally new and different. So, really, right now, all I need is an exotic getaway. Something to shake up my brain a bit, make me think differently, challenge me in a new way. Because, eventually, that's what makes you so good at your job (and yes, whatever you do for a living, you ARE creative). I don't know about you, but I need this shot of inspiration. I need to feel re-inspired...

So if you see me boarding a plane for Tasmania soon, don't be surprised!

melmelxx

August 1, 2016 - No Comments!

A life without a smartphone…

Is a life better lived? Well, I've been considering the idea...and I think so. But, how do we go about living/working/being social without a smartphone in our ultra-connected modern society?

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I'm not going to lie, if I want to throw away my smartphone every other day, it has to do with the fact that it drives me completely nuts. It has become more than a tool for most of us, and entered a special space in our lives. Some people have accepted it as an extension of their own arm, keeping it with them at all times, regardless of their usage of it. Most smartphones now act as modern-age fluffy toys, a little box of hardware we hold onto to make us feel like we're not alone in this big intertwined world.

I'd like to see a world where people talk to each other in real life, and not behind a screen. Even if I won't deny how smartphones have made reaching out to people much easier. But now is time to step away from the mirage and get to see the real world. Whatever we have to do in this life, we can do it with our brain, our heart and our bare hands. We don't need smarphones or social apps to make us feel reassured about who we are (or pretend to be). We just need to go out there, experience different cultures through our own eyes, and get on with our path. At the end of the day, what we really matters if not what you do, whatever it might be. It's who you are. And how you go about doing things with your heart. Being honest. Being original. Just you and nothing else.

melmelxx