Malika Favre

Freelance Illustrator.

Perfect Chemisty - Vogue Uk edorial
Perfect Chemistry – Vogue UK

What was your key motivation in becoming an illustrator?

I have always drawn as far as I can remember but making a career of it came very organically. I originally studied graphic design in Paris and always thought I would end up working in advertising or design. The turning point was when I joined Airside shortly after moving to London and this is while working there as a designer that I found my own voice as an illustrator. It took me five years to shape up my portfolio and decide to become independant. I guess it is a combination of hard work and luck that got me where I am in the end.

Justine et Juliette  screenprint image
Justine et Julliete – Screenprint

What was your first break as an illustrator?

My first ever break was the Alphabunnies screenprint that I designed for the Airside Shop a few years ago. The print was very well received and went around the design and illustration blogs. Shortly after, I got commisionned by Wallpaper magazine to create another sexy alphabet and things really took off from there. The Kama Sutra cover for Penguin books US was also a real turning point for me.

How do you maintain an ongoing stream of work?

I feel very lucky, as work seems to find me. I am very productive and I use social media a lot to get my work out there. I also send new ventures to blogs I like and this seems to do the trick.

The Kama Sutra project - screen prints and exhibition image
The Karma Sutra Project – Screenprint and Exhibition

What importance do you put on your own personal body of work and how does this influence your commissioned work?

I think self-initiated work is a key thing to attract interesting clients. Creating work that comes from within and reflects what you are about as an illustrator is essential and demonstrates a prolific nature. I sometimes find the seed of my personal project in a sketch made for a commercial client or a fun side project but most importantly, I set money aside from my commercial commission in order to reinvest in my own exhibition projects. One feeds the other and both are equally important to me. I couldn’t yet see myself doing solely my own work. Working to a brief is actually something I love and challenges me.

Vanity Fair Cover  editorial image
Vanity Fair Cover

When a company for a commission approaches you, what are the first three steps you take?

1 – Ask for the brief or work in progress. I can’t make a decision without knowing what client I am working for and what the project is about.

2 – Negociate a budget, or let Jon, my agent, do so. I think getting the money issue out of the way is essential to get started creativally. It also allows me to propose solutions within the budget.

3 – Talk to the client on the phone to get a feel for the project. This point is crucial in understanding the type of relationship you will have with the agency or client and get a vibe for the person you are dealing with. Projects are about people more than anything.

Le Plaisir - NYTimes cover  Editorial image
Le Plaisir – NYTime Cover

You have a strong portfolio of your vector-based illustrations online, how do you ensure that you have a variety to show through your own website?

I try to balance editorial, advertising and a diverse range of projects in order not to be pigeonholed into a single type of work. The work variety you show, the more diverse your potential clients will be. This is about taking risks from time to time and experimenting with new things. I always ask myself what a project will bring me: Is it something new, is it surprising and am I excited by it?

Who and what keeps you inspired?

I realised not long ago that going away is what inspires me the most. Travelling and going to work from a remote location is great to nurture my creativity. Anything and everything beautiful inspires me, it could be a book I just read, a shadow cast by a railing next to my house, a great exhibition… Anything really!

14th March 2014

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